News

No more citations for curbside veggies in Los Angeles

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May
Ron Finley proudly stands beside his curbside vegetable forest during a gardening party the week after TED2013. Photo: Nick Weinberg

Ron Finley proudly stands beside his curbside vegetable forest during a gardening party the week after TED2013. Photo: Nick Weinberg

Planting a vegetable garden beside a road is no longer a fineable action in Los Angeles.

In a major victory for TED speaker Ron Finley, otherwise known as the renegade gardener of South Central, the Los Angeles City Council voted 15-0 on Tuesday to allow the planting of vegetable gardens in unused strips of city land by roads. The council is opting to waive the enforcement of a city law that requires sidewalks and curbs to be “free of obstruction” in the case of vegetable gardens designed for community use. The city will stop enforcing this law immediately.

Ron Finley: A guerilla gardener in South Central LARon Finley: A guerilla gardener in South Central LAOn the TED2013 stage, Finley described getting a citation for planting a vegetable garden on his curb.

“I live in a food desert, South Central Los Angeles, home of the drive-thru and the drive-by,” he said. “So what I did, I planted a food forest in front of my house. It was on a strip of land called a parkway. It’s 150 feet by 10 feet. Thing is, it’s owned by the city. And somebody complained. The city came down on me, and basically gave me a citation saying that I had to remove my garden, and the citation was turning into a warrant. And I’m like ‘Come on, really? A warrant for planting food on a piece of land that you could care less about?’”

After getting the citation, Finley circulated a petition. And the number of signatures he collected made an impact on Council President Herb Wesson. Last week, after two more urban gardeners were issued citations, Wesson raised the motion to amend the “Residential Parkway Landscaping Guidelines” and stop fining for vegetable gardens. Many of his fellow council members agreed. As councilman Mike Bonin put it to the Los Angeles Daily News, “We deal with a lot of big issues, but this is one that helps shape community character.”

Finley himself was very happy with the change, and that he got a personal shout-out during the council session. “I was pretty elated. It’s beautiful,” he tells the TED Blog. “It goes to show that one person can make a difference.”

His next battle: pushing for more vacant lots to be turned into community vegetable gardens, so people can learn the self-sufficiency of growing their own food. “It shouldn’t be abnormal,” says Finley.

Comments (24)

  • commented on Aug 29 2013

    Reblogged this on everroamer and commented:
    Watch the video. Get with the movement.

  • commented on Aug 24 2013

    Reblogged this on Thezenoptimist.

  • commented on Aug 23 2013

    Reblogged this on Where do the Children Play…?.

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  • commented on Aug 21 2013

    Reblogged this on The Earth Mama.

  • Dawn Suderman commented on Aug 21 2013

    Very good! Three cheers for L.A. today!

    Shared this on my Facebook page–City Life to Farm Life and Wife

  • Pingback: No more citations for curbside veggies in Los Angeles - Second Green Revolution

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  • commented on Aug 18 2013

    Reblogged this on Talesfromthelou's Blog.

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  • commented on Aug 18 2013

    Look under my gardening category on my site and you will see an article with pics about the front yard gardens. Lovely.

  • commented on Aug 18 2013

    We have city ordinances like these. We know many who have turned their front yard into veggie gardens down here (Orlando), in violation. We go out to lake Eola here in Orlando on Sundays and feed the homeless, also against city ordinance. Usually big pots of soup or stew with cornbread. The city says that it encourages panhandling….something else they have restricted to certain places at certain times of day.

  • commented on Aug 18 2013

    Reblogged this on The Chef and the Waitress and commented:
    This is a great initiative – props to Ron Finley for his vision and success and good move by the council.

  • commented on Aug 16 2013

    Reblogged this on Mike Dror and commented:
    Beautiful. Great story showing the difference individuals can make.

  • commented on Aug 16 2013

    awesome, the city should look at this way, no need to mow the curbs anymore and no more worries about hungry poor people, if everyone is allowed their own garden it sure helps with hunger, and that is what gov always claims they care about irradicating right? os they need to put their actions where their mouths are. that garden is beautiful.

  • commented on Aug 16 2013

    Reblogged this on Altscholar and commented:
    Let it grow.

  • commented on Aug 16 2013

    Reblogged this on Sustainable Homesteading for Urbanites and commented:
    Taking control of their own lives and resources! This is a vicotry for urbanites in Los ANgeles who are trying to grow their own food! Well done, my hat is off!

  • commented on Aug 16 2013

    Reblogged this on Minus The Box and commented:
    Some great news for a Friday morning Ron Finley, “the renegade gardener” of L.A., has just one the motion to amend the ”Residential Parkway Landscaping Guidelines” which prohibited community gardens in unused public lands.