gardening court

Noxious weeds in the early Spring.
Noxious weeds shortly before we left in June.

A letter to my alder.

Hello Sara Eskrich,

I live at ____ and back in June someone filed a complaint about my terrace gardens.  I was not home during the period after the inspection during which I should have gotten my garden into compliance and I was fined $187.  When I returned home in August, I called the building inspector who issued the complaint.  He was generally unhelpful but told me that he would check with his supervisor about resetting the clock to allow me to clear my garden and get back to me. He didn’t. For my part, I could have called him back but I was also dealing with a family emergency which took most of my energy, and I forgot to remind the inspector.  Depending on the inspector’s call and figuring that he would “fix” it, I missed my first court date and was brought up short when I received a “default judgment.”  I responded quickly, cursing myself for depending on a building inspector and feeling quite foolish asking for a rehearing based on that.  My rehearing was granted and there was a pretrial hearing today, not on the “Failure to Remove Noxious Weeds” complaint but on my request to re-open the complaint after judgment.

I went to court today intending to resolve this issue one way or another.  I brought proof that I was not in town during the original complaint time, I wanted to ask if not being in town could excuse me from the ticket, and if not, I intended to pay the ticket.  I was scheduled to talk to a city attorney before seeing the judge and I expected that I could work it out with her.  At court, the city attorney let me know that she contacted the building inspector and he had not responded, and she wanted to set the case for a new pretrial in 30 days.  I asked her if not being home could excuse me from the fine and she said she didn’t think so, but that she would be willing to reduce the amount once she heard back from the inspector.  She was not interested in reaching closure today.  And then, the judge set a new hearing for November 14.

I have no idea what you can do for me, perhaps nothing.  I understand that I was in violation of regulations and my only excuse is that I knew nothing about them. I have gardened on my terrace for 10 years and there was a mature garden there when I moved in.  I am taking the garden down.  Soon it will be nothing but mud and after the bulbs come up in the spring, I will plant grass.  I love my gardens and this episode has hurt me deeply.  I just want it to be over.  If there is any way to expedite this situation, I would be most grateful.


A slew of feelings but in truth, they all amount to self pity.  What a waste!  So, now I can beat myself up for failing to pay the fine when I received the default judgment.  I let my idea that the complaint was unfair and there was a remedy to color my judgment.  Letting go was not enough.  It seems I should give given in.  (See the backstory if necessary:

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