A Florida Senate Committee Tuesday approved moving legislation forward aimed at preventing local municipalities from regulating homeowners’ vegetable gardens.
The Senate Community Affairs Committee unanimously supported the measure, which was filed by Fleming Island Republican Rob Bradley for the upcoming legislative session.
The legislation would not impact the covenants and restrictions that homeowners associations can impose, instead it would impact municipal governments, according to Florida League of Cities spokesman David Cruz.
Bradley filed legislation after the city of Miami Shores banned front-yard vegetable gardens.
“Requiring you under threat of trying to tear up a garden that you have prepared to grow your own food, to me, is not consistent with the fundamental rights that we have in our constitution,” he said.
Bradley said, if passed, the bill would not apply to general ordinances that don’t specifically regulate gardens like those related to water use during drought conditions or control of invasive species.
The Senate passed a similar bill in 2018, but the issue died in the House.
Several organizations oppose the measure, including the Florida League of Cities. Cruz said decisions about gardens in people's yards should be made at the local level.
“Florida’s residents could easily voice their concerns to their city commissioners, if they do or do not want vegetable gardens in their communities, allowing each city to take their own natural characteristic through zoning and through code enforcement,” he said.
Cruz said there are examples of cities and property owners already reaching compromises. While he opposes Senate bill, Cruz said he is open to finding a middle ground.
He said the committee should consider putting in place height limits, commercial restrictions, and a reasonable setback requirement that the city can enforce.
“I understand that home rule is included in our constitution,” said Bradley. “But I also understand - and I think our constitution is set up as such - that home rule is not a blank check.”
The measure made it through the Senate Committee without Cruz’s recommendations. Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff, a DeLand Republican, has already filed the House version of Bradley’s bill.