[permaculture] California couple conserving water amid drought could face fine for brown lawn | Reuters

Lawrence London lfljvenaura at gmail.com
Sat Jul 19 09:39:33 EDT 2014

California couple conserving water amid drought could face fine for brown

(Reuters) - A Southern California couple who scaled back watering their
lawn amid the state's drought received a warning from the suburb where they
live that they might be fined for creating an eyesore - despite emergency
statewide orders to conserve.

Michael Korte and Laura Whitney, who live near Los Angeles in Glendora,
said on Thursday they received a letter from the city warning they had 60
days to green up their partially brown lawn or pay a fine ranging from $100
to $500.

"I don't think it's right for us to start pouring water into our lawn in
the middle of July during a drought," said Whitney. "We're kind of in a
quandary about what to do."

The letter, bearing the official symbols of Glendora and its police
department, came the same week that statewide water regulators passed
emergency drought restrictions for outdoor water use. Those regulations, to
take effect this August, require cities to demand cutbacks in water use,
and empower them to fine residents up to $500 for overwatering their lawns.

California is in the third year of an extreme drought that is expected to
cost the state an estimated $2.2 billion and more than 17,000 agricultural
jobs. Democratic Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in

In Glendora, City Manager Chris Jeffers said the city did encourage
conservation, but that Korte's and Whitney's lawn was in such bad shape
that it was reported as possibly abandoned.

"We were responding to a complaint that we received of a possible abandoned
property," Jeffers said. "Crews visited and determined it was not
abandoned, but not kept. The landscape was dead and there were large areas
of just dirt."

Instead of citing the couple, he said, officials opted to leave a letter
explaining that conserving water did not mean abandoning the landscape.

"Conservation does not mean neighborhoods need to deteriorate because
property owners want (the) landscape to die or go unmaintained," he said.

Glendora's action provoked a strong response from state environmental
officials, who said such moves undermined conservation efforts.

“Throughout the state, Californians are making serious efforts every day to
cut their water use during this extreme drought," said Amy Norris,
spokeswoman for the California Environmental Protection Agency. "These
efforts to conserve should not be undermined by the short-sighted actions
of a few local jurisdictions, who chose to ignore the statewide crisis we

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