E-DEMOCRACY | Nuisance condition, or neighborhood treasure?


Cecily Brown posted at 2:46pm

Hello, Seward neighbors,

Did you know that our neighbor, Anya, has been cited by the city of Minneapolis for “nuisance conditions” in her garden. As a result of this citation, she is supposed to remove the mosaics, sculptures, and collages from her garden as if they were so much trash that she had neglected to dispose of.

Anya and many of her neighbors, including me, are disturbed that one anonymous person’s complaint can overbalance an entire neighborhood which has for years watched Anya’s artwork develop with interest and delight.

I am entirely in favor of maintaining our properties as a sign of our “care for our neighborhoods and each other,” and I believe that this is the spirit in which Anya creates her garden artwork. To destroy her garden would demonstrate a terrible application of the city ordinance.

Since there is no appeals process for the citation, I am appealing to neighbors to help us. Please contact our City Council member, Cam Gordon, and perhaps also our own SNG to voice your support of Anya’s unique garden. If you have other ideas, please post them!

Thank you for reading!
Cecily Brown

Peter Sverre Truax posted at 3:43pm

I stopped by the house during the Garage Sale, the house is on the corner of Minneapolis, 22nd and 32nd. In my opinion, I’d say it’s one of the nicest and most well maintained and cultivated boulevard gardens in the neighborhood.

Peter Truax

Jim Moore posted at 4:07pm

I couldn’t agree with Cecily more. In addition, Anya’s gardens are a favorite stop and learning landscape for the Seward Child Care kids, and I would imagine many others.

Jim Moore
24th St.

Kate Graham posted at 4:15pm

Wow. Unbelievable. I moved to Longfellow one year ago, but I lived in Seward for three years, and I would walk by that house almost every day in the summertime and adored her gardens. It’s a shame to see her hard work tarnished in this way–she should be celebrated for her enduring efforts, and not made to feel like a criminal.

Since Cam Gordon is no longer my city council rep, I urge those of you still living in Seward to make some noise over this!

Cam Gordon posted at 4:16pm

It is good to see this disucssion on the list.

I talked to Anya a few days ago about this and have also been in communications with our housing inspection staff. Anya’s award winning and wonderful yard is unique and in the course of the winter snows melting away has apparently stretched a nearby neighbors ideas about acceptable standards for yards, storage and perhaps ourdoor lawn ornaments. It appears the inspector who responded to a complaint call did find some things that might actually be prohibited by the code. I have not reviewed the inspectors letter, but at Anya’s request I am stopping by to visit and learn more. An additional issue might be the fact that as Anya is getting older some of the work involved in maintaining her beautiful work of art may be a little more challenging than it used to be. There are resources we have that can help and I think neighbors ready to help as well. As our city staff (with a great new young inspector now working in Seward ) are learning more about the situation, history and general admiration and regard the community has for this resident and landscape, I am confident that the city response will be tempered to fit the situaion.

In the meantime, if it becomes clear that the ordinance itself is unclear and prohibits (or defines as nuisances) some things that are clearly not problems or hazards but may actually be beneficial, I will work to amend the ordinance as needed.

Lastly, please don’t hesitate to call or email me and my office anytime about this, (as Anya has done) and other issues. It is very helpful and greatly appreciated.


Cam Gordon
City Council Member, Second Ward
296-0579 http://www.minneapolismn.gov/ward2

Stephen Thomas McClellan posted at 4:31pm

I live on 24th Street, one block from the yard/house you are talking about. Every time I walk by I just imagine the effort the owner puts into the yard work to make that garden work. This is a definite case of bureaucracy run amok for that garden to be cited as a nuisance. If there is anyway a neighborhood petition or support mechanism can occur to assist her against the citation or any action the inspections attempt to deter her in continuing to create such a wonderful garden – sign me up.

Stephen McClellan

Bob Friddle posted at 4:31pm

Thank you Cam, and other supporters,

WE Love Anya’s beautiful and whimsical garden. We visit it many times a week and bring our grandchildren past it to enhance their vision of art and nature. Please count us in as advocates for this wonderful piece of heaven in our Seward neighborhood.

We will be interested to learn what items are considered violations, and also why there is no formal appeal process.

Bob Friddle (SNG board member) and Sharon Sampon.
2028 Seabury Ave. #2

Kerry Cashman posted at 6:30pm

Hi all,

Just thought I would add the SNG perspective. Cam has suggested we invite the new inspector to the CDC meeting to learn a little about Seward. We plan to do that, maybe that will help the inspector understand Seward a little bit. Kerry

Bob Hulteen posted at 6:44pm

To be fair, I don’t know that it is bureaucracy run amok, as the inspector was responding to the complaint of a neighbor. I think that we want our “bureaucrats” to be responsive to our complaints, and this person was likely doing that. As Councilmember Gordon mentioned, there may be some things not in compliance.

(And, yes, i too enjoy that lot. If we had put more time into our lawn thus far this year, it might look like a mini-version of hers.)

I also think that not everyone is required to like the same lawn stylings I do. So, that neighbor has the right not to appreciate what most folks on this forum are saying they value. There may be only one neighbor that doesn’t appreciate her way of caretaking her lawn, or there may be many. We really don’t know for certain.

I guess I think there may be better ways to deal with one’s dislike than calling an inspector. Talking directly to our neighbors always seems like the best course of action. If necessary, mediation may be a good approach. But actively addressing the difference is almost always better than passively dealing with it.

But, demonizing the person who did alert inspectors is probably not very helpful either. (And this is not addressed at Stephen, whose message I am piggybacking on. He offerings are helpful, I think.)

E-Democracy forum posts are republished under license by Creative Commons with Attribution. There were 14 posts on this topic as of May 22, 2014. See entire discussion thread here.