Native Garden Protections Need Your Support

This week Friends of the Chicago River joined our partners at the Illinois Environmental Council (IEC) and other advocacy groups, to support the Native Plants Gardens Registry Ordinance which was introduced by Alderman Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward-Chicago) and a dozen other aldermen for consideration by the Chicago City Council.

The proposed ordinance would create a new Managed Native Garden Registry, protecting citizens who follow sustainable landscaping practices from enforcement actions under the current Weed Ordinance and promoting the sustainable landscaping practices that contribute to the health and vibrancy of Chicago.

Residents may register native plant gardens on their properties with the Department of Planning and Development at no cost, which will shield them from excessive Weed Ordinance citations as long as they responsibly manage their plantings. Native plant gardens are beneficial to the environment and those living nearby. Native plants provide habitat and help reduce flooding, stormwater runoff, and pollution associated with turf grass maintenance while conserving water and increasing pollinators.

“The Native Garden Registry Ordinance will fix a technicality that has resulted in tickets issued to residents who have purposefully curated native plantings on their properties. Native gardens play a small-yet-critical role in supporting endangered pollinators, while alleviating flooding with additional rainwater capture. Residents may now pursue native landscaping elements without fear of tickets, so they may do their part to enhance environmental protections, one property at a time,” Alderman Brian Hopkins. 

In a news release about the proposed ordinance, the IEC said the city’s Weed Ordinance enforcement efforts have increased since the dissolution of the Department of the Environment and have resulted in citations against native plants and vegetable gardens--upwards of $600 for some homeowners. Compounding the problem, city inspectors are focusing their enforcement efforts on disinvested communities struggling with vacant lots, leading to disproportionate ticketing of individuals in parts of the South and West side of Chicago.

In addition to the Friends and IEC, other organizations in support of the ordinance include: Blacks in Green, the Chicago Region Tree Initiative, Faith in Place, Advocate for Urban Agriculture, The Field Museum, Openlands, Center for Neighborhood Technology, Chicago Eco House and Angelic Organics Learning Center. Cosponsors of the ordinance include: Brian Hopkins (2nd), Patrick Thompson (11th), Michael Rodriguez (22nd), Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), Andre Vasquez (40th), Michele Smith (43rd), Tom Tunney (44th), James Cappleman (46th), Matt Martin (47th), Harry Osterman (48th) and Maria Hadden (49th).

Please contact your member of the city council and voice your support for the Native Plants Gardens Registry Ordinance.