Some want stay-at-home order altered to allow gardeners

Daily Post Staff Writer

Should gardeners be allowed to work under the stay-at-home order? It is a controversial topic in Palo Alto.

City Manager Ed Shikada said at a virtual community roundtable on Friday that the city has received numerous calls on both sides of the issue.

Resident Cheryl Nafzgar wrote to City Council saying seniors and disabled people should be exempted from the no gardening rules. She said she thinks the rule is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because a person in a wheelchair can’t mow their own lawn.

Atherton residents have also complained about the gardener rules, and the town is sending a letter to the county health authorities to ask them to lighten up on the gardener ban.

Mayor Adrian Fine said at the roundtable that Santa Clara County is not permitting routine gardeners to come for upkeep but residents can garden on their own. He said fire safety work like tree trimming is OK.

He said the rule is difficult for some elderly residents who rely on landscapers to keep up their properties.

Fine confessed that he forgot to tell his own gardener not to come by his home. He said a police officer reminded him that gardeners are not allowed. Fine said he sent his garden away but is still paying for the services.


  1. A quick informal survey shows that about 60% of lawns have been mowed during the lockdown. Some of those may have been done by the homeowner, but most were done by contract gardeners. My guess is 40% were done by gardeners.

    Compare that level of non-compliance with the law requiring cars to have a front license plate. That level of non-compliance has been around 6% for the last 2 years, and I don’t know of a single case in which a driver was ticketed for failure to have a front license plate.

    Does it make sense to enforce a law that 40% of people ignore while not enforcing a law that 6% of people ignore?

    • How many people have died because someone is missing their front license plate again? And “I don’t know of” doesn’t sound like a very exacting standard…

  2. To increase compliance with the shelter in place order, the police need to step up their enforcement and start arresting residents who hire gardeners. They need to be dragged out of their homes in handcuffs to make an example of them. Treat them like an unarmed black motorist with a broken tail light, if you get my drift. This may seem brutal and excessive, but it’s worth it if it saves just one life.

  3. Clearly we are not in Kansas anymore! Property values, well-kept lawns, is that What Palo Alto is concerned about now? How about neighbor helping neighbor, if pushing a lawn mower comes to shove? Good exercise, if you can manage it, and helps the older, the elderly, the senior in your neighborhood. Probably get a good workout as you would get riding your bike through deserted streets. If this is a war, then we are in a war zone. Let the grass grow greener…Watch it grow!

  4. The no-gardener rule is overbroad. Ours are a father and son team who live together. They bring their own equipment, and we do not need to interact with them. They work outdoors. The risk seems negligible.

  5. The gardener ban is a backdoor blower ban. The greens hope when the gardeners are “allowed” to perform their no risk occupations the blower noise will be so jarring that it will make people campaign to outlaw them.

    Who stands 6 feet from their gardener while they move around for the 15 minute visit? You’d be fired as a client in one visit in any case.

    These businesses seem to be largely minority immigrant owned – so driving them out of business seems against the stated values of the Ruling class. So much for the Valley of the Heart’s Delight.

  6. The city allows its crews to work. Our landscape maintenance crews should have the same rules. Can we not just exercise common sense? Now everyone understands what is necessary to be safe. If gardeners WANT to work, and can work, and be physically distanced from their own crew (if they have one) and their clients, then they should be able to work. This is not just about people wanting their grass to look nice. This time of year things are growing twice as fast as usual – everything is covered in pollen, landscaping is getting incredibly overgrown at some homes, their work is piling up if their clients cannot do it themselves. It’s a fine line about what can be considered safety to a home versus aesthetics. I’m doing what I can physically, and filling up a green bin weekly at my home and I’m not even making a dent in the work that needs to be done. The city crews are out DAILY mowing the lawns in the parks, blowing the pollen and leaves…. and driving together in their trucks. They wear masks. Seems the city has a model for how this should work…

Comments are closed.