City Forecloses on Florida Man's Home Because He Let Grass Grow Too Tall

May 10, 2019

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In July of 2018, Jim Ficken traveled to South Carolina from his home in Dunedin, Florida, to manage his late mother's estate. During the two weeks Ficken was gone, his regular lawnmower, Russ Kellum, died suddenly. When Ficken got back home, he tried to mow his overgrown lawn himself, but his lawnmower had broken. He eventually got a new mower and mowed his lawn, but not before being fined nearly $30,000 by the city of Dunedin--$500 for each day his grass was higher than 10 inches. Worse yet, Ficken never received any warning that he was being fined, and now the city is foreclosing on his property. Ficken, a retiree on a fixed income, is countersuing the city in hopes of stopping the foreclosure and getting his fines wiped out. "Nobody should lose their house for having tall grass," his pro-bono attorney tells The Tampa Bay Times. Incidentally, the city of Dunedin also fined the late actress Elizabeth Taylor's mom, Sylvia Earle, roughly the same amount for having too-tall grass in 2018. Despite being in her eighties, Earle is a famous ocean explorer who travels 300 days per year.