The relationship between the federal and local governments is complex and has caused much debate from the days of the founding fathers to the present day. The cornerstone of all American government, the U.S. Constitution, lays out that the leading principle at any level of our government should be providing Americans “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
According to the Florida Constitution, all citizens have the right to “acquire, possess, and protect property.” While certain regulations are necessary to ensure public safety and well-being, both the state and federal constitutions emphasize the importance of a citizen’s right to maintain their property.
A bill put forward to our state legislature earlier this year by Senator Rob Bradley, SB 82 addresses the issue of government regulation of residents growing vegetable gardens on their own property. According to a bill analysis, SB 82 “prohibits a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state from regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties… any such local ordinance or regulation regarding vegetable gardens on residential properties is void and unenforceable.”
SB 82 would ensure that residents would not be fined or punished for growing gardens on their own property. For instance, it would stand with residents of the Village of Miami Shores, who faced fines of $50 per day for maintaining gardens on their own property in violation of a zoning ordinance. When the residents tried to challenge the ordinance on the grounds of unconstitutionality, the court ultimately reinforced the ordinance. SB 82 would make such ordinances void.
While the bill prohibits regulation specific to vegetable gardens, it still allows for local governments to “adopt a local ordinance or regulation of a general nature which does not specifically regulate vegetable gardens, including, but not limited to, regulations and ordinances relating to water use during drought conditions, fertilizer use, or control of invasive species.”
The bill was approved by Florida governor Ron DeSantis on June 25, 2019.
For those interested in Florida's recent legislative action, check out this article about how they plan to protect our environment.