Why Is This Gardener Suing Chicago?

Kathy Cummings’ front garden stands out on her street.

Her wildflowers include edible herbs and medicinal native plants. She’s an avid gardener who won a mayor’s award in 2004 for her naturalized landscape.

The City of Chicago promotes native gardens in part for their ability to prevent flooding.

So why did Cummings later receive a citation in violation of Chicago’s weed control ordinance?

Cummings and other gardeners are filing lawsuits that claim city employees may not be able to distinguish between natural plant gardens and those unwelcome, unsightly weeds that typically litter empty or vacant lots.

“I can’t get really past the idea that it’s a way for the city to make money,” Cummings said.

Indeed, revenue generated from the weed control ordinance totaled more than $6 million in 2013.

But city leaders recognize there may be some honest mistakes in the ticket writing process.

NBC 5 Investigates takes a deep look at the controversial weed ordinance and why some are calling it “unconstitutional”. The investigation airs Thursday on NBC 5 at 10pm.

Contact Us