Homeowner Faces Jail Time for Planting Front Yard Vegetable Garden

MyFox Detroit is reporting that the city of Oak Park, Michigan is taking Julie Bass to court for starting a rasied-bed vegetable garden in her front yard. Here's the key exchange between the tax-paying resident and the city official:

"That's not what we want to see in a front yard," said Oak Park City Planner Kevin Rulkowski.

Why? The city is pointing to a code that says a front yard has to have suitable, live, plant material. The big question is what's "suitable?"

We asked Bass whether she thinks she has suitable, live, plant material in her front yard.

"It's definitely live. It's definitely plant. It's definitely material. We think it's suitable," she said.

So, we asked Rulkowski why it's not suitable.

"If you look at the definition of what suitable is in Webster's dictionary, it will say common. So, if you look around and you look in any other community, what's common to a front yard is a nice, grass yard with beautiful trees and bushes and flowers," he said.

I'm guessing the flood of national media attention may knock some sense into the city planning office before opening arguments commence at city hall, but I'm excited for a conversation about what is suitable. That's an important conversation we need to be having in our neighborhoods and communities but the meaning of "suiable" is often assumed.