Saturday, September 21, 2013

Garden Grants Pass!

Since I started gardening professionally in Grants Pass, I have wanted to garden Grants Pass, the whole city, though I know I can’t.  It’s just that it needs it so badly.  So I’m starting a club called Garden Grants Pass, to do just that.

I didn’t feel that way when I lived here for two years in the 80’s.  The town was a lot smaller and much cleaner and neater in those days.  But 30 years has doubled the population of this city and probably tripled its area, looking at all the vacant lots.   40 years of not enforcing nuisance codes regarding weeds and litter combined with 30 years of expansion and unnecessarily high water rates has turned this city into a dry, weedy, seedy, littered mess.

Ironically, our city code mandates that every square foot of Grants Pass be gardened.  It forbids allowing weeds to mature and go to seed.  This is gardening, which is keeping order in outdoor spaces, and invariably involves weeding at some point.  Weeding is the difference between gardening and “landscape maintenance,” which doesn’t maintain any property well.

Not only does our code mandate gardening, but our City Charter mandates that the City Manager enforce all city codes.  This has obviously not been done, partly because the city makes no money enforcing nuisance codes.  People readily comply when told by an officer to clean up a few weeds and a bit of litter, so no citations are issued.  They are much less likely to clean up a property so weedy and trashed that it is a safety hazard, which the city can abate for 10% over cost, plus a heavy fine.

Property nuisance codes also haven’t been enforced because there is a lack of gardeners, people who are willing to pull weeds.  This has happened because the city tried to get us to save water by instituting a tiered rate structure with high rates for high use, and they succeeded too well, putting us and the water plant in a death spiral of dropping usage and rising rates.  A generation of poor people has been unable to garden, and thus there is a shortage of people willing to garden for money.  If they can’t afford to garden their own yards, they won’t pull your weeds, either.

There are many vacant properties in this city due to lack of nuisance code enforcement.  People can keep land cheaply, and hold it until they get the price they think it is worth, rather than selling at the market price with maintenance taken into account.

Garden Grants Pass will be holding free gardening classes (see other side) to train people to garden.  We will be petitioning to change our water rate structure to promote irrigation so poor people can garden, and to end the 10% admin fee on abatements and have all officers enforce nuisance codes on sight, so that our entire city may be gardened as our code demands.

7/18/2013.  Published on Yahoo Voices and; revised 8/20/2013. 

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener        541-955-9040

Gardening is easy, if you do it naturally.