i sent a letter to the mayor of the city of orlando in support of the helvenstons, and here is the response i received. i have no idea if this is true or not, and i have no idea what jason’s response to it will be, but in the interest of fairness i want to keep you informed of what both sides are saying. when i hear back from jason and/or jennifer, i will tell you what they have to say. all i will say at this point is that, from my personal experience, it is wise to keep in mind that city government officials will sometimes cast things in a certain light in order to maintain a public persona that “keeps up appearances”. as i said, i have no idea what is true or not true, and i am far away from florida, so i really have no way to verify this one way or another. this leaves me in the very un-enviable position of trying to keep people informed but possibly passing on some mistakes. if that happens, i hope you will correct me and forgive me. i am trying my best to stay in the loop and get it right.

here is the mayor’s letter:

Dear Citizen,

Thank you for reaching out to us on the topic of residential
gardening.  I would like to clarify some information regarding this
topic that has been inaccurately reported by some media outlets.

The City has put the Helvingston’s code violation case on hold and
they will not be fined or held to any compliance schedule under that
originally issued code violation.

This case has brought forward the need for the City to make changes to
our code to better reflect our commitment to environmental
responsibility and we are currently in the process of drafting
amendments to this code that will encourage the use of residential
vegetable gardens as a sustainable source of producing food.

To reiterate, the Helvingston’s will not be fined and not held to any
compliance schedule under the originally issued code violation.  That
case is on hold.    Since then, City staff has been meeting with the
community and residents (including the Helvingston’s) to fully
understand the issue and get input from the entire community.  Using
the input from several community, neighborhood and round table
meetings, the City is in the process of drafting recommendations and
guidelines to amend the existing code to allow for front yard
vegetable gardening in residential districts.

The City remains committed to sustainability and working together to
make Orlando one of the most environmentally conscious cities in the
country.  To learn more about the City’s sustainability efforts,
please visit cityoforlando.net.


Buddy Dyer