Council seeks to suspend rules against sidewalk vegetable gardens

Ron Finley raises vegetables, flowers and some fruit in a garden on the side of his South Los Angeles home and shares his bounty with neighbors. The city of Los Angeles doesn't like the garden, which is actually on a city parkway strip, and wants Finley to remove it.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
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Los Angeles residents who grow fruits and vegetables near their front curb will get a respite from the city’s code enforcement officials, under a measure approved Tuesday by the City Council.

The council voted unanimously to ask city agencies to temporarily suspend rules that restrict the cultivation of gardens in the parkway, the area between the sidewalk and the curb. While enforcement is suspended, city officials will continue to work on new rules governing parkway landscaping, said Council President Herb Wesson.

“What we need is a little more time to try to sort out how we can do this,” said Wesson, who proposed the suspension.

As a result, some gardeners have received notices instructing them to remove raised beds, tall fruit trees or lush vegetable gardens. The city’s municipal code requires parkways to remain free from obstructions to allow pedestrians to pass, according to Wesson’s proposal.


Tuesday’s vote was welcomed by Los Feliz resident Abbie Zands, who said he received two notices from the city ordering him to remove his parkway garden of kale, squash, chard, herbs and cherry tomatoes. Zands said his garden provides a local benefit.

“I feel like it’s really helping to build community in our neighborhood, because people are always stopping and talking about what’s growing,” he told the council.

Wesson offered his proposed earlier this month, after Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez put a spotlight on the gardeners who were being ordered to remove their plants or appear in court for failing to do so.

South Los Angeles resident Angel Teger, who also received a removal order from the city, said the council’s decision will show that the city “supports better health and nutrition for all of its residents.”


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