Copyright 2024 All Rights Reserved.

April 22, 2024

State Representative Harper wants to give State and local government the power to regulate your garden

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On February 21, 2020

Springfield (ECWd) –

Representative Sonya M. Harper (Chicago), has introduced legislation that would allow State and local governments to regulate your garden.  Yes, that sentence is correct!  An Illinois lawmaker wants the State and Local Government to have the power to regulate your own garden.  HB 4704

The title of the proposed law is about as deceptive as some of those laws we see from our Federal Legislators, like the “Affordable Care Act“, that turned out to be anything but affordable.

“Right to Garden Act”

Who can dispute a great title like that?  The title is the first step in convincing legislators to support it.

We believe property owners already have a right to a garden on their own property.  The Illinois Appellate court even made such a reference in a case dealing with a person who had pet chickens for food on his residential property.

“Rather, his use was merely incidental to a permitted residential use of his property, much the same as having a vegetable garden.” (City of Sparta v page)

From the Text of the Legislation: Section 5. Findings. “The State of Illinois finds that the right of a property owner to create and maintain a garden on his or her own residential property, whether it be for produce, flowers, herbs, fungi, or grains, and when done so for one’s own consumption and enjoyment, should not be infringed upon by the State or any unit of local government.”

Reading the “Findings” portion of the law, it sounds great!  Everyone would support that kind of a bill, with the exception of the “for one’s own consumption” language.  It’s not the government’s business who will be consuming items grown in private gardens.  The “own consumption” just happens to also create a problem for those wanting to sell items from their gardens.

However, this law does not appear to be about a person’s right to garden but rather the government’s right to regulate the use of private property.

With all the bills being introduced the first part of a bill gets read and if it makes sense or sounds logical then they vote for it without doing a deep.  This is one of those types of bills.  A great title and initial language that a cursory read will lead most people to believe this is a great bill.

Reading a whopping fifteen lines deeper into the text of the bill, we find yet another encroachment on people’s private property rights.

Section 15. Regulations of gardens on residential property. The State or a unit of local government may regulate gardens on residential property unless a statute or regulation has the practical effect of precluding gardens on residential property entirely. Permissible statutes or regulations include, but are not limited to, those pertaining to restrictions on water use during drought conditions, existing or future adoption of property set-backs, maximum lot coverage, utility safety, fertilizer use, control of invasive species, or a substance regulated under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, the Industrial Hemp Act, or the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.

How many people think the State Government should be permitted to regulate a garden on your own private residential property?

How many people think their local government should be permitted to regulate a garden on your own private residential property?

While we understand there are some municipalities that have zoning rules regarding the location of a garden, such as restricting them to back yards, this bill goes well beyond issues of zoning.

If passed as written, it would permit the State of Illinois to regulate gardens on private property.  It would also permit a local government to regulate gardens on private property.

If Representative Harper wants to protect people’s property rights, let’s keep it real simple and introduce a bill that is straight forward and provides no government expansion into people’s private property.

Suggested amendment to HB 4704 – Strike everything and replace it with the following.

“The State of Illinois finds that the right of property owners to create and maintain a garden on his or her own residential property SHALL not be infringed upon by the State or any unit of local government.”

Good Day!
Our work is funded entirely thru donations and we ask that you consider donating at the below link.


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on print


  • George
    Posted at 16:26h, 21 February

    I wish I could say I am shocked in this state….but they keep finding new ways to go off the deep end.

  • jannie
    Posted at 16:27h, 21 February

    I sometimes think government elected officials have too much time on their hands 🙂

  • Slightly Sightful
    Posted at 16:56h, 21 February

    In other news, I present my 2nd Amendment to the State as precedent, to defend from the Bureaucratic audacity it takes to assume such bill would be required. Stop lying to yourselves people, they are clenching up your shirt in their fist, under your chin, and asking you to respond.

  • Dave
    Posted at 17:57h, 21 February

    The democrat controlled state legislature communists want to regulate and tax everything. Freedom denying oppression

  • Sal Tessio
    Posted at 18:43h, 21 February

    When you live nine miles from nowhere, your individual rights really don’t affect anyone else. When you live in town with hundreds or thousands of other people around you, what you do on your property affects the property rights and property value of your neighbors. Lot line setbacks are reasonable restrictions and have been upheld. Regulation of water supplies during droughts can become an absolute necessity. If my dipstick of a neighbor insists on watering his tomatoes all night while the village is in danger or running out of water during a drought, the village ought to be able to fine him into compliance or shut off his tap. Use or non-use of chemicals can damage other people’s property or water supplies through runoff. It may be necessary during a harmful insect invasion (Emerald Ash borer, anyone?) to kill off certain plants to protect the rest. I can envision placement of a garden affecting access to a public utility (maybe a stretch). But I think, Mr. Allen, you and your commenters are overreacting to this one just a bit. ANY regulation can be abused by local government, but SOME regulation is absolutely essential to protect the public because SOME people don’t have enough sense to regulate themselves. This bill might need some work, but the second clause of the second sentence is very important “unless a statute or regulation has the practical effect of precluding gardens on residential property entirely.”

    • Kirk Allen
      Posted at 08:31h, 22 February

      Your first sentence speaks volumes and i believe Constitutionally you are 100% wrong.

      Individual rights are just that. They are not rights based on where you live or how close a person lives to you. If a person believes a person exercising their rights is effecting them, we already have a system to deal with that. We don’t need new laws like this to address the issue of a persons rights affecting another.

      While you may think this is all an overreaction, its not. In fact, I was told shortly after publishing the article that an amendment has been made due to the clear drafting error made on this bill. We do not know what that error was nor the amendment but will update accordingly.

      This bill is not about lot line setbacks or other zoning issues that are permissible, just as I said in the article. Raising those issues is nothing but a red hearing.

      Water restrictions can not be enforced on a persons food supply. Just as I can provide water to a pet or livestock during such restrictions, I can also provide water to my garden as it is a food source.

      When the high courts have chimed in on this it would do our legislatures well to read those cases before drafting such a poorly written bill.

      You need to think about your comments in relation to facts. Your water is piped in from a city source. The person next door to you could dump all kinds of chemicals in their yard and no matter what the runoff, it does not effect your water supply because it is piped in from the water plant where it was treated and deemed safe.

      Please explain how non-use of chemicals is a problem?

      • Paul K.
        Posted at 14:55h, 22 February

        Building codes already require backflow prevention devices. If you’ve a concern for your neighbor, the local building inspector can verify your property is compliant.

  • Cindy
    Posted at 06:25h, 22 February

    Welcome to the opening scenario of the gulag. They are all insane and so bent on their new world order for Satan that the unbelief of the commoners is actually common. Tessio is wrong. Absolutely naive just like the folks that refuse to believe what we are really facing. It’s coming. It’s prophetic. And it’s really ugly.

  • Kirk Allen
    Posted at 08:15h, 22 February

    Stay tuned. I was told by Representative Skillicorn that there has been an amdendment and the original bill had a drafting error.

  • anonymou5user
    Posted at 09:22h, 22 February

    Elmhurst already thinks it runs a condo association, not a municipality with individual property owners:

  • lynn
    Posted at 10:52h, 22 February

    The intent of the bill is to NOT allow municipalities to prohibit gardening, and in fact is a response to heavy-handed efforts to prohibit residents’ efforts to extend the growing season using temporary garden shelters in winter.

    The problem comes is the legislation must essentially re-state the ALREADY EXISTING zoning rights of cities in order to avoid municipal lobbyists’ launching a big campaign against it — the last attempt at legislation got attacked as being anti-home rule. Municipalities ALREADY have the right to codify and enforce setbacks, lot coverage, etc.

    That said, I just heard today that the controversy has unearthed legitimate drafting errors in the bill. I’m told they will be corrected. When properly presented, the legislation will make clear that you should, for example, be able to grow vegetables on your front lawn, or build season-extending garden shelters on your residential lot, without worrying code enforcement will make you tear them out.

    I urge you to continue looking at this situation. It is actually right up your alley — a story of grassroots citizen pushback against bad city government.

    • Paul K.
      Posted at 14:45h, 22 February

      Thank you. The hooplah-in-elmhurst, or heavy handedness, seems local to Representative Harper’s district, not everywhere else.

  • Nicole
    Posted at 12:14h, 22 February

    Hey friends. I am Nicole Virgil – and this all started in my backyard. There is a big misunderstanding here. There are typos and some errors in HB4704 which are being amended right now. This bill is designed to PROTECT individual liberty and property rights. The bill amendments should be published by 2/26/20-ish. When it is amended, they will match the language of its sister bill in the Senate – SB3329. For more background – check out

    • Paul K.
      Posted at 16:23h, 24 February

      Hi Ms. Virgil. I checked out and would not have been surprised if your repurposed hockey rink was previously made ready to use by a mix of snow hauled from driveways and water from the tap…to save on water use. Did not know that about spinach, but Kale is every bit that hardy.

  • Sandra Levin
    Posted at 08:42h, 24 February

    What I got out of it was…you can’t grow hemp or cannabis because we can’t tax it! Among other stupid regulations and infringement on private property by government.

  • Sandra Gray
    Posted at 15:45h, 25 February

    I don’t think the state or local government should tell us what we can or can not do with our gardens. Many times we have excess veggies produced, it is best to sell or give this excess produce to individuals who do not have access to fresh veggies or fruits. Stupid idea. Another example of someone with a little power trying to tell the rest of us how to live.

    • Terrie Hewlett
      Posted at 18:09h, 27 February


    • Edward j condon
      Posted at 22:15h, 02 March

      I agree with you, the state of Illinois is getting ridiculous,,, I think lawmakers should worry about more important issues