Saturday, May 30, 2009

Berkeley Bureacrats Bully Frontyard Gardeners

Fellow Neighbors, Friends, and travelers,
The City of Berkeley Code enforcement has decided my front yard fruit trees and garden beds are an "unpermitted  violation" and must be removed.  They have fined me $4,500- already and threatened daily additional fines of the same. That's $135,000 per month!
In conversation they tell me that I'm supposed to have a lawn just like all the other houses, they say that the front yards is for recreation. But they don't put those crazy statements on paper, on paper they write citations for

* vegetation over six foot tall, a five hundred dollar a day fine, now cited twice in a two week period
* Unpermitted Trees, a five hundred dollar a day fine, cited twice
* Unpermitted Garden Beds, a five hundred dollar a day fine, cited twice
* two counts of obstruction  of the right of way, at five hundred dollar a day each.
* And a we already told you so citation, a five hundred dollar a day fine
* and to further damage me, they mailed copies of this mayhem to my Bank
In recent walking surveys of our Berkeley yardscape: 25% of Berkeley Properties have a fruit tree in the right of way, 80% have vegetation obstructing the sidewalk, or egress for cars, and 90% have vegetation over 6ft tall.  These numbers establish a clear community standard of appreciation and support of front yard gardens.  And that community standard is defensible position in a court of law. 

And I will fight these citations all the way, Code enforcement Officers Maurice Norrise and Gregory Daniels have selectively enforced these laws, as a tool of harassment, against myself and every community garden, and activist household I know of in Berkeley.  Its time to turn this tide. Its time for an investigation into the questionable practices of Berkeley's code enforcement department.

Step in for a fellow neighbor, and Stand up for your right to plant you own Victory Garden, for your right to choose the trees that you are responsible for pruning and sweeping up after. 
Don't let them take away this valuable tool in the fight against global warming.

We need you to call these important local decision makers and tell them how you feel, call and leave a message now

Deputy City Manager Lisa Caronna, (510) 981-7600
Neighborhood Services Officer Angela Gallegos-Castillo (510)981-2491
City Manager Phil Kamlarz (510)981-7000
And to email your local advocates and secure their support

"Mayor Tom Bates" ,
Council Members, choose the one for you district
"Jesse Arreguin L." ,
"Darryl Moore" ,
"Susan Wengraf" ,
"Laurie Capitelli" ,
"Linda Maio" ,
"Max Anderson" ,
"Worthington, Kriss" ,
"Gordon Wozniak" ,

Talking Points

* We need urban gardens to reduce our Ecological Impact, to Preserve Wilderness from cultivation, decrease our dependency on foreign oil, and reduce our carbon footprint,
* Asa's Garden Beds and Fruit Trees

* All the fruit trees are carefully maintained, sidewalks swept, and branches pruned off the sidewalks and to 18 inches from the curb face.
* The street side garden beds are separated with walkways every car length to allow for easy street side access, unlike most juniper hedges in Berkeley
* Berkeley Approved Measure G, to curb greenhouse gasses.
* The Obama's have a frontyard garden at the White House
and SF Mayor Gavin Newsom has one in front of city hall
Why doesn't The City Berkeley have one???

if you wanna see pictures of the Garden, visit
If you want to help us organize events,email
if you want to stay in touch, or come to a garden building party,
check out

Asa Dodsworth,
   oh, and don't forget to forward this message to your friends