Drought: CA Couple Faces Fines for not Watering Lawn Enough

A California couple is caught between a green and a brown spot, because they received threatening letters on the same day from the state and their home city, with one demanding that they cut water usage for lawn watering, while the other is ordering that they water their lawn green or face hefty fines.

Laura Whitney and her husband, Michael Korte, told KTLA5 that the California letter said that they are imposing mandatory outdoor watering restrictions with the threat of a $500 penalty if they exceed a mandated limit. Ironically, the city of Glendora, in an apparent campaign to beautify the city neighborhoods, sent Laura and Mike a letter complaining that their lawn was too brown, and they face a potential $500 fine if they don’t make it greener within 60 days.

Although drought-stricken California’s new slogan is “brown is the new green,” the city of Glendora sees things through greener-colored glasses. "Despite the water conservation efforts, we wish to remind you that limited watering is still required to keep landscaping looking healthy and green," their letter cautioned.

Whitney opined that she feels she is living in an “alternative universe… My friends in Los Angeles got these letters warning they could be fined if they water, and I got a letter warning that I could be fined for not watering."

Amy Norris, a spokeswoman for the California Environmental Protection Agency, weighed in on the topic in a written statement: "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 face, the farmers and farmworkers losing their livelihoods, the communities facing drinking water shortages and the state's shrinking reservoirs." 

Meanwhile, Al Baker, president of the California Association of Code Enforcement Officers, agrees with the sentiment that water conservation and maintaining a healthy landscape should not be mutually exclusive. He maintains that there are drought-resistant plants and landscaping techniques that can satisfy both sides of the issue. "During a drought or non-drought, residents have the right to maintain their landscaping the way they want to, so long as it's aesthetically pleasing and it's not blighted," he said.

Yet, the mayor of Glendora, Judy Nelson, said not to worry; there will be no fines for not watering your lawn. That letter was sent out before the restrictions. "The state mandates just came out two days ago, and in response to that the city has revised its letter, there is no longer a fine," she said. 


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