This idea that you can’t grow anything in your front yard is a recent invention. We go overseas to visit the in-laws almost every year and most people have smaller yards, and they use them. They can be much more of a jungle than this. My grandmother-in-law has a front yard in the country lined with jackfruit, soursop, and star apple. The side and back yard areas are big (for there) and she filled it up with coconut, mango, cocoa, and other things. Here, there are a lot of Chinese immigrants and a lot of them treat their lawns much the same as they would in the old country.
The guy in the article there actually does his thing in a pretty neat and respectful way. Let the neighbors pound sand.