A Good Samaritan VS The City

Are you familiar with NIMBY? It’s the ‘Not in My Back Yard’ syndrome that can affect us all. Residents will hear about a fantastic altruistic plan to help others and are all for it…until they see it will be across the street from them. Suddenly, NIMBY takes over as they try to gather neighbors in an effort to stop the activity.

The following news story is one such case. This one happens to be in my home town in Arizona. For the past seven years a Good Samaritan by the name of Millie has run a food bank of sorts in her front yard. Daily she stops at local grocers picking up donations. After all, what can you do with over ripe bananas? Eat them today or throw them away. The food collected by Millie is placed on shelves by the curb (frozen items in a portable freezer) with a sign inviting those in need to help themselves.  Sometimes up to 50 families a day would stop by to pick up the much needed staples.

But now the City of Glendale has decided that Millie broke the rules. Based on a complaint from one of the neighbors the city notified Millie that one cannot place display shelves in the front yard. A spokesperson from the City of Glendale’s Code Compliance Department said residents can’t leave furniture or appliances in public view or they will be cited. As a code compliance issue, she therefore was ordered to stop giving away the food.  However, as of this writing the city has not returned to issue a citation though Millie says this mission of hers is too important to stop and she plans on defying the orders.

In the video it is easy to hear and see the compassion of this Samaritan, helping others, because she strongly feels this is the right thing to do.

On a personal note: While this topic was being discussed on a local radio program a female caller identified herself as the one who initially complained. Her concern was that ‘strangers were coming onto her street’ and she did not feel it was safe. The show host asked if she had talked to Millie about the situation to which she seemed surprised, replying it wasn’t her place. But she just didn’t like having this happen ‘in her back yard.’ The host pressed further asking if it wouldn’t be the neighborly thing to do before calling the police but she had no answer. So instead of working together for a win-win situation the Good Samaritan now has been pushed into a battle with the city.

Could this issue have been prevented? Or should it even be allowed? What do you think?


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Teresa Wendt

A stay at home mom who runs a household, manages the finances, cares for a young adult autistic son, and cooks from scratch. Traveling from Arizona to Alaska summer of 2013. Visit my blog at https://ramblinroseaz.wordpress.com/ and follow along.

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