Denise Morrison was unemployed, diabetic, arthritic, and has high blood pressure – none of which is helped by the harassment – and used her front yard vegetable garden for both food and medicine. Imagine her consternation when confronted by bylaw
officers stating: “Everything, everything needs to go”.
Ms Morrison had read the city’s ordinance, which says plants can’t be over 12-inches tall unless they’re used for human consumption. She made sure everything she grew could be eaten, which she told the inspectors.
“They sent me a report back telling me I had no violations,” she said. “I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t a problem. But after they forced me to pay $1,000 last year to save my property, the very next month they came here.“
Morrison obtained a police citation to prevent action until the matter could be heard by the courts. At the August 15, 2012 hearing the judge told them to come back in October. The very next day, city workers arrived and cut down most of her plants, including some of her trees -– ones that bore fruit and nuts The destruction went up next to her house and basically removed everything in her front flower bed.
“Every word out of their mouth was, ‘we don’t care,'” Morrison said. “They took away my life and livelihood.”
Appearing in court in October 2012, after it was destroyed, the Judge dismissed charges against the garden. Denise Morrison has filed a civil lawsuit accusing the inspectors of overstepping their authority.
A change.org petition was closed in July 2012 after quickly reaching 5,239 signatures.
The Tulsa ordinance cited (in full here) reads in part:
6. Weeds and other rank growths of vegetation upon private property or
adjoining parking, including but not limited to poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac
and all vegetation at any state of maturity which:
a. Exceeds twelve (12) inches in height, except healthy trees, shrubs,
or produce for human consumption grown in a tended and cultivated
garden unless such trees and shrubbery by their density or location
constitute a detriment to the health, benefit and welfare of the public and
community or a hazard to traffic or create a fire hazard to the property or
otherwise interfere with the mowing of said weeds;
b. Regardless of height, harbors, conceals, or invites deposits or
accumulation of refuse or trash;
c. Harbors rodents or vermin;
d. Gives off unpleasant or noxious odors;
e. Constitutes a fire or traffic hazard; or
f. Is dead or diseased