Some Southern California cities fine residents for watering their lawns too much during droughts.
But in Orange, officials are locked in a legal battle with a couple accused of violating city ordinances for removing their lawn in an attempt to save water.
The dispute began two years ago, when Quan and Angelina Ha tore out the grass in their frontyard. In drought-plagued Southern California, the couple said, the lush grass had been soaking up tens of thousands of gallons of water -- and hundreds of dollars -- each year.
They said they were trying to do something good for the environment...
But city officials told the Has they were violating several city laws that require residents to cover significant portions of their frontyards with live ground cover. On Tuesday, the couple is scheduled to appear in Orange County Superior Court to challenge the city's lawsuit against them.
Soon after the city complained about the yard, the Has placed wood chips on top of the dirt, with help from neighbor Dennis Cleek.
"It's their yard, it's not overgrown with weeds, it's not an eyesore," said Cleek, whose own yard boasts fruit trees. "We should be able to have our yards look the way we want them to."
But city officials determined the fix was not acceptable, saying city codes require that 40% of the yard be landscaped predominantly with live plants.
"Compliance, that's all we've ever wanted," said Senior Assistant City Atty. Wayne Winthers.Yes. Compliance is what we want. We don't care if the rule in question makes absolutely no sense and is completely counter-productive in every way, we demand compliance.
Seriously, what is going on out in California? Look, I understand the purpose and positive effect that zoning laws (and laws like them) can often have—I also sympathize with the counter-argument—but these laws here seem like city-planning run amok. When laws have become counter-productive, and begin to harm the overall well-being of the community they govern, they must be abolished.
Unfortunately, politicians of all types seem to hate repealing laws—they'd rather defend them to the death and let somebody else worry about the unintended consequences (or, alternatively, make another law to deal with that unintended consequence, then another, then another, etc...). What will SoCal think of next?