Catch-22

Under the new water conservation measures in Los Angeles and adjacent communities, watering lawns with sprinklers and hose pipes is only allowed on two days per week and only during a certain time window in the morning and in the evening. No more sprinklers running merrily all day long, even when it rains (yes, there were many proud lawn owners who never bothered to turn them off).

These new water codes (plus the higher costs for water) seem to have served as a wake up call to some, who seriously considered going even a step further in their efforts to create gardens and lawns needing less or no water. One way to go are gardens with local, drought tolerant plants, but such landscaping certainly does not lead to the lushly green appearance dear to so many homeowners. After having had the quintessential picture of the American Dream rammed down their collective throats for decades, they want exactly that – the house with the green lawn and the white picket fence.

To get the best of both worlds (no water consumption, but a nice green lawn), a gentleman in a city not very far from here (actually, so near that we do most of our shopping there), had a brilliant idea: he had artificial turf installed in the front yard of his newly built home. Not cheap, tacky looking stuff, mind you, but really nice fake turf, which cost him quite a few thousand dollars. Turf like that looks so real today and has so many advantages, that cities, golf clubs and private persons are installing it in parks, on golfs courses and in their gardens.

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Then, however, this gentleman learned that in order to receive final approval from the local Design Review Board  and adhere to required landscaping plans, he would have to replace the artificial turf with live grass, which would have required daily watering (forbidden under the City code) over quite a few weeks to take root. And if the grass died because of the water restrictions, he could be cited by code enforcement for dead landscaping in a front yard setback.

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Now the turf war is on. After the initial request to rip out the offending green stuff, the homeowner has received permission to keep the illegal turf until City  planners have set up an artificial turf display for residents to see samples prior to the issue returning to the dais for the City Council do deliberate.

And what about the neighbors of this gentleman? Well, they offered to sign petitions or to go to City Hall on his behalf. It seems that they are not offended – however much the Design Review Board and the City Council might wish for some expression of public outrage at this blatant attempt to… save water…while still…having a lawn…

Oh, I don’t know. My mind reels. As it always does when I encounter a perfect Catch-22.

5 Replies to “Catch-22”

  1. I am not at all surprised. It would probably be the same in our town. The city governments talk out of both sides of their mouths. Water usage is one of my soap box topics. We think fuel prices/shortage is a big deal? Wait till we begin to really run out of water. And that scenario is not a possibility but a sure-thing. It’s insane that we (especially in Texas) all have lawns worthy of Iowa or some other rain-soaked climate. It’s a complete waste of water. We need to have rocks, mulch, or some sort of xeriscape in our yards that will live on occasional rain or water. We live in an arid region, and we need to come to grips with that before it is too late, if it isn’t already too late.

  2. There is talk here about a bill being introduced about legislation to make ordinances from local water districts trump homeowners association rules.

    The case I wrote about has nothing to do with a homeowners association, but roughly 25 % of all home owners in CA live in communities run by HOAs. They still force and fine and threaten with eviction all those who want to go against the “green lawn” landscaping.

    The outcome of this – whether they will put legislation in place or not – will be interesting.

  3. water conservation should be done because we are already having some water shortage these days`*,

  4. there is always a need for water conservation specially these days where natural reources are scarce..”

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