Monday, March 8, 2010

LA Times: Orange (city) Officials Sue Couple Who Removed Their Lawn

I'm beginning to get whiplash.

I'll be cruising nicely along, learning about city after city that is allowing its residents to produce their own food with hen chickens or dwarf dairy goats, and then I'll attend a hearing in Greeley where - after an absence of debate or any logical reasoning - the city council will vote down an extensively studied pro-chicken ordinance. Or, after reading article after article about school gardens, edible landscaping, and urban farming projects, I'll come across this article about a couple in Orange, CA that were sued by the city for letting their lawn die during a drought.

This couple was motivated to make a change in their yard after they had a baby and started thinking more about the future. They decided that spending hundreds of dollars a year to maintain a lush green lawn in the middle of what is (essentially) a desert didn't make sense.

Their annual water usage went from 299,221 gallons in a year with the grass, to 58,348 gallons per year once they stopped watering their lawn.

The city ended up charging one of the residents with a misdemeanor that carried a possible fine of $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail.

There's more to the story, of course, and you can click here to read the full article. The couple eventually agreed to the city's demands to plant more vegetation (because apparently mulching with wood chips just won't do). Click here to read the follow-up article.

It's almost disturbingly "retro" when things like this happen. So many cities (and individual citizens) are making sustainable choices, and yet some places (and individual people) seem determined to keep us locked in a 1950's technicolor suburbia.

But as disheartening as stories like this one (and the episode in Greeley) can be, I believe they point to the fact that things are changing simply because the stories are so absurd. Whatever the reasons folks have for opposing these common-sense sustainable living choices (usually some antiquated notions about what will affect their property value) they're becoming vastly out-numbered and out-reasoned.

And speaking of property values, I have a friend who put his house up for sale in October 2009, even though he knew the market was in terrible shape. He and his wife allotted themselves 6 months to sell their house before moving out of state. By the way... his house came with a chicken coop in the backyard, raised garden beds, and it was equipped for solar.

Want to guess what happened? The house sold within a week at the full asking price. My friend and his wife ended up having to rent an apartment for 6 months so they'd have somewhere to live before moving out of state. Go figure.


US Recall News said...

Sundari you are a better person than I for seeing the bright side: The fact that finding this stuff absurd is an improvement in itself.

I'm more inclined to think: FINE, if suburban America wants to die of thirst because they used their water to keep golf courses and useless lawns alive; if they want to die of cancer and other diseases because they insist on using petroleum-based fertilizers; if they want to starve because they ruin the fertility of their soil by killing all of the benefitial life with pesticides... If they want to mandate this and superficial appearances are more important to them than LIFE... SCREW 'EM! Let them die and I'll laugh and piss on their graves (organic nitrogen amendment) and say I TOLD YOU SO YOU MORON!

But that's just me... ;-)

And yes, it was the fact that our house was the way it was that sold it. Otherwise it would have just been another overpriced bungalow on the South Denver market. BTW, The buyer will be at our going away party if you want to meet him.

US Recall News said...

PS, I didn't mean to spam your comment field with "US Recall News" but you don't give me an option to just use my name and email. It asks for a "Google" account and this is the only one I have.


Sundari said...

LOL - no worries about the google account. Always happy to give US Recall News a shout out. Once I have the time to implement your very good advice, I'll switch to wordpress.