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Officials Sue Couple Who Removed Their Lawn

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the revenge-of-the-lawn dept.

Earth 819

Hugh Pickens writes "The LA Times reports that Orange County officials are locked in a legal battle with a couple accused of violating city ordinances for replacing the grass on their lawn with wood chips and drought-tolerant plants, reducing their water usage from 299,221 gallons in 2007 to 58,348 gallons in 2009. The dispute began two years ago, when Quan and Angelina Ha tore out the grass in their front yard. 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. 'We've got a newborn, so we want to start worrying about her future,' said Quan Ha, an information technology manager for Kelley Blue Book. But city officials told the Has they were violating several city laws that require that 40% of residential yards to be landscaped predominantly with live plants. Last summer, the couple tried to appease the city by building a fence around the yard and planting drought-tolerant greenery — lavender, rosemary, horsetail, and pittosporum, among others. But according to the city, their landscaping still did not comply with city standards. At the end of January, the Has received a letter saying they had been charged with a misdemeanor violation and must appear in court. The couple could face a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for their grass-free, eco-friendly landscaping scheme. 'It's just funny that we pay our taxes to the city and the city is now prosecuting us with our own money,' says Quan Ha."

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Dumb Government Abuse of Power (0, Troll)

pubwvj (1045960) | more than 4 years ago | (#31340874)

Why government should have no powers.

Re:Dumb Government Abuse of Power (5, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31340992)

Limited powers not no powers. Somalia is a great example of what happens when the state is so far weakened that even property rights/life are not protected. At the opposite end of the scale, you might see something like North Korea which is not much of an improvement over what Somalia has. The idea is not to go to either extreme and maintain a reasonably rational government is large enough to cover the basics but not so big that people start to be strangled by it.

Re:Dumb Government Abuse of Power (5, Insightful)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341040)

hush, don't force reality on him. He thinks he's going to be one of the warlords as opposed to the plebes

Re:Dumb Government Abuse of Power (5, Insightful)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341086)

"...but not so big that people start to be strangled by it."

They always make new laws, and rarely get rid of old laws. The strangulation is inevitable.

Re:Dumb Government Abuse of Power (1, Offtopic)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341168)

After Somalia's former government collapsed, it didn't take long for warlords to consolidate power and I predict that at some point Somalia will have a whole new government for better or worse due to either consolidation of the powers of various warlords or a revolution of some sort. Then the cycle starts all over again.

Re:Dumb Government Abuse of Power (3, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341094)

The US is so far down the track towards autocracy that warning about the dangers of too weak a government is like warning a man who is dying from dehydration in the desert of the dangers of drowning if he's not careful when approaching an oasis.

Re:Dumb Government Abuse of Power (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341246)

The US is so far down the track towards autocracy that warning about the dangers of too weak a government is like warning a man who is dying from dehydration in the desert of the dangers of drowning if he's not careful when approaching an oasis.

From an outsider's perspective I would diagnose the problem somewhat differently. It's paradoxical, the US is in many way under-regulated (eg. the banking system, consumer protection etc), yet on the other hand there are numerous examples of regulation like this.

But I don't think the problem is with the actual regulation. To me there seems a dangerous lack of discretion on the part of administrators, as to when laws ought, and more importantly, ought not to be applied.

It is as if the mere fact that something breaches an ordinance justifies taking action against that breach, or the mere fact that a crime has been committed means that someone ought to be charged. Or perhaps it is only that failures of discretion, such as in the present case, which are newsworthy.

Re:Dumb Government Abuse of Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341220)

if any of those complacent government paper pushers had half a brain this wouldn't even be an issue ... see what you get when you have ridiculous benefits and unparalleled job security? you get incompetence! the city should sue itself for wasting its time and our money ... morons

Re:Dumb Government Abuse of Power (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341026)

Personally, I hate lawns and I think they're a big waste of resources. But as a homeowner, it's what keeps the property value going. I already have problems with the neighbors not paying their water bill (shared pipe mess, etc), and the association can't do much else other than give warnings that if they don't pay, then EVERYONE will lose water. We need the help from the city to force them to pay. But that's another story.

If the neighbors have visibly broken windows, doors, or damaged roof, it affects the surrounding property value. That's just the reality of it. Something as large and visible as a dead lawn makes it seem like the house is abandoned. And it's not like the city is saying, "hey keep it green and lush," but only that 40% of the yard must have living plants - it doesn't specify what. That seems like a reasonable request. I'd just plant a cluster of cactuses in the corner. Welp, I think the property value will still go down with this tacky solution, but it would get the city off their backs. However, the neighbors might still complain and pass some oddball ordinance at the next city council meeting, and take effect the next year.

If I could, I'd astroturf my lawn.

Re:Dumb Government Abuse of Power (2, Informative)

hawk16zz (960734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341120)

Guess you missed this part from TFS:

Last summer, the couple tried to appease the city by building a fence around the yard and planting drought-tolerant greenery — lavender, rosemary, horsetail, and pittosporum, among others. But according to the city, their landscaping still did not comply with city standards

They tried, the county denied.

Re:Dumb Government Abuse of Power (3, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341140)

I live in a planned estate, fairly upmarket in appearance. Most of the houses have "arid landscape" themed gardens, and all plants are selected for low water requirements.

I can attest that, if done well, drought resistant garden design can look very, very nice. It's also far easier and cheaper to maintain, as weeds don't grow as readily. Our garden is made up with the hardiest plants from central Australia, thus we can literally starve weeds to death while the rest of the plants carry on fine. Having big, lush, high water gardens means that hardy weeds infest it easily and you're left fighting a losing battle.

Re:Dumb Government Abuse of Power (5, Interesting)

pthisis (27352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341146)

Why is it your neighbor's responsibility to use their property in a way they dislike in order to bolster your property values?

I live in Virginia now, and this nonsense goes on not only in HOAs but even with city ordinances--mandating grass cutting, forbidding painting your house certain colors, etc. I just don't get it--in Maine, if you wanted a hot pink house with lines of toy soldiers and an above ground pool on your front lawn, that was your own business. It's your own property, and you have a right to use it how you want within the bounds of safety and environmental concerns.

Now, if it's a safety issue that's another thing. But the state's interest in defending property should be first and foremost to defend the right of a property's owner to use it as they see fit; if you want to have crazy aesthetic restrictions then you can move into an area with a draconian HOA.

Your water pipe issue is completely different, and I sympathize greatly.

property value of a lawn (4, Insightful)

r00t (33219) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341164)

But as a homeowner, it's what keeps the property value going.

Sure about that?

Lots of fancy places have forest. You can't even see the house from the street. You could hide almost anything: a large boat, a helicopter, a moat, a guard house, a private lake, a tour bus...

Lawn is for shitty places where developers crap out houses onto postage stamp sized lots. You get psychotic homeowner associations and chipboard walls. Lawn says "mass production" like nothing else.

Forest looks damn lovely.

Re:Dumb Government Abuse of Power (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341202)

Why anyone would have bought into such a community in the first place escapes me. It was #1 on the list of dead to me properties when I consulted a real estate agent. Who doesn't think that an HOA is just an invitation to abuse, and why would you pay MORE to pay more for an HOA?

Re:Dumb Government Abuse of Power (1, Interesting)

CodeDragonDM (1570963) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341122)

That's a poor summary of what's happening. That ignores that the couple has literally devalued the homes around it by doing this, it's fiscally as bad as tagging (graffiti wise) everyone within a three house radius with a pair of breasts under the living room window.

While the owners were being planet smart, they probably should have started out at their city council or equivalent to get this change known and accepted.

Then again, I say don't live in city limits where you can directly affect someone else and their livelihood by doing what you should have the gawddamn right to do on your own property! Can't add or remove a frelling tree from your own yard without two bureaucrats telling you it's ok, then charging you to use their service... It's perverse and (to piss off a portion of people) retard logic.

Re:Dumb Government Abuse of Power (1, Troll)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341156)

Dumb ass. With no government the corporations would run everything and those without money would be shit outa....doh. Ok so we're not that far away from that now but at least your congress critter has to win a popularity contest to get elected.

Must Be Pretty (0, Offtopic)

Chris Rhodes (1059906) | more than 4 years ago | (#31340880)

But it is so ugly!

I presume... (4, Funny)

sys.stdout.write (1551563) | more than 4 years ago | (#31340888)

That the prospective jail time is from contempt of court and that it is not actually a criminal offense to cover your yard in woodchips..

Right? Right?

Re:I presume... (4, Informative)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341048)

I see you've never been to Orange county, home to such places as Irvine where it is illegal to leave your garage door open.

Re:I presume... (4, Insightful)

OnePumpChump (1560417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341206)

Funny how the right wing love to talk about leftists being for overbearing government that controls everything you do, but it's the conservative strongholds that have laws like that.

Poor Journalism... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341128)

TFAs mention 1.5 years of legal wrangling. Presumably there is a process for getting your delinquent lawn back to 'standard', but the articles gloss over this. They mention a 40% requirement for grass cover, but also mention a 'site plan' indicating that alternatives may also be acceptable. I think the journalists involved should have included more of this process in the piece.

I think the city should first come up with recommendations, then possibly begin enforcement. This couple has obviously been making progress, so I can only assume that the complaining neighbor has some swing in city hall.

The Has' response was going to the news media to get some push-back onto the city.

It is all a bit ridiculous though.

Contempt of Citizen (1)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341152)

Yeah, any court that enforces that city bylaw in this case deserves our contempt as the court will be in Contempt of Citizen. Ha should sue the city for wasting water and attempting to enforce a pernicious law.

How is this any different... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31340892)

How is this any different from building a large tower on your property, a city ordinance is a city ordinance. If it's not allowed it isn't allowed. Now is it right? maybe not, but then they should have lead a drive to change the ordinance before they violated it.

Re:How is this any different... (3, Insightful)

saaaammmmm (1650977) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341044)

Yeah, tell that to Rosa Parks.

Re:How is this any different... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341126)

using that logic you could justify defiance of any civic ordinance. Also historically comparing yourself to Rosa Parks never looks good, it usually leads to being mocked rather quickly.

Re:How is this any different... (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341058)

Probably because a large tower is conspicious from a long distance, and potentially has an effect on a lot of other people, because it obstructs their unimpeded view of the sky.

It's nothing confined to your yard, like your choice of landscaping materials are.

NOT quite like building a large tower on your land (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341144)

As a Radio Amateur, I continue to marvel at the range of awful looking things that one IS permitted to mount on one's roof or erect in one's back garden.

(I always thought that the fed's at the FCC had jurisdiction, at least in the case of a Radio Ham's tower issue. T or F...? Anyone know for sure?)

Anyway, the obvious difference between erecting a large tower & not buying water (which - when I come to think of this thread's details - may be the "real" reason that
the couple are being taken to task, despite their decision to do a Right Thing here) is:

A tower could fall over.

In the tower case, one could conceivably go round to all neighbors within a reasonable (eg, falling) radius of the intended tower base & get everybody to sign a "I think it's just great & wouldn't complain; I've checked with this guy's engineer (who has also inspected the work, which was done by licensed builders), all is in order, & - therefore - I support this guy's tower plans. Yada... yada..." ...and - before the tower-rise - get pre-construction approval for the project.

--

One could possibly have a similar thing here; eg, go to officials, lay out the situation (cost of water, need to redirect that $$$ to college fund for baby, etc.) & request an exemption.

THEN the story might have been:

"Officials force parents of newborn to spend money needed for baby's upbringing to buy water for their front lawn."

Now, THAT would have outraged your neighbors to come & support you.

At this stage, some of those will say, "Well, the law is the law." And, then, they'll go watch TV... :-/

Re:How is this any different... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341196)

They likely weren't aware of the by-law until they violated it. see below.

It's their lawn (4, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 4 years ago | (#31340894)

As long as it's not presenting a danger to neighbors, they should be able to do whatever the hell they want with it.

Re:It's their lawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31340986)

You'd think that would be the case but there are laws in that community that take the choice away from them. Most communities have such laws to prevent health hazards but this community has taken it to the next level.

Re:It's their lawn (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31340998)

So If I want to decorate my dead lawn with old refrigerators and non-working cars your okay with that?

Re:It's their lawn (1)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341142)

As long as they don't smell, sure. It's your lawn. I'll gladly get off it, if you keep off mine.

Re:It's their lawn (0, Troll)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341158)

And if you actually lived next to someone like that, your resale value would go down 10-15%. While I agree in theory with that for most property, this is a case where their actions effect others.

Re:It's their lawn (5, Insightful)

Grey Ninja (739021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341216)

People need to stop worrying about what the fuck their neighbors do. It's their land, they are free to do whatever they want with it. So the hell what if your resale value goes down?

Re:It's their lawn (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341278)

Yes.

That's why I deny you the right to sell any stock I've invested in when bad news comes out about the company -- my resale value might go down 10-15%.

Oh, wait, the risk you might lose money due to other people's actions is an inherent part of stock [i]and[/i] land speculation. As long as it doesn't actually harm the other person's property, only it's presumed resale value, it's not a problem.

Re:It's their lawn (0, Flamebait)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341240)

Do you mind if I rent out the lawn to campers 24/7? Money's tight, hotels are expensive, you don't mind strangers camping outside, right? They shouldn't be too loud, and we'll clean the porta potty twice a month. Also there's a few cars on blocks... oh, and I'm making a wildlife refuge, so I'm letting the grass go this year. Watch out for snakes and yellow jackets that might be in the 4 ft grass.

It's their government (2, Insightful)

dcollins (135727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341010)

They get to vote on how much the private property fiction applies in their community.

Re:It's their government (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341134)

Democracy is no excuse for harassing people needlessly. Your argument can be used to defend any degree of governmental nonsense. Let's put it this way: making a reference to your sig, if a majority decided that unions should be illegal, by your argument they ought to be allowed to ban them. Democracy cuts both ways, it allows you to force some of your ideals on others and at the same time allows them to do the same to you. Time and time again history shows that there need to be limits to what the mob can impose upon others.

Re:It's their government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341224)

"Democracy is no excuse for harassing people needlessly."
Yes it is; it's the best excuse. No better way to make someone you're assraping sound like an ungrateful bitch than to remind them that they (or at least 51% of their neighbors) asked for it.

Re:It's their government (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341250)

Democracy, the Werewolf game of the powerful. Using it for mere harassment is an abuse of resources (God forbid). Real Players (TM) use it for profit or killing.

Also America isn't a Democracy (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341272)

It is a Constitutional Federal Republic. The difference is important. For many reasons, it was designed so it is not a simple case of majority rule, where people just vote on everything and whatever gets the most votes goes. While there are strong Democratic traditions, it was designed specifically so that there isn't a tyranny of the majority (at least hopefully not). The idea being that just because you have one more vote, doesn't mean you get to impose your will on everyone else regardless.

This applies to all sorts of things. A good extremely specific example is the Constitution itself. It cannot be amended by a majority vote of congress, nor of a majority vote by the citizens. It has to be a 66% vote in congress and then ratified by 75% of the states. There are extremely specific provisions preventing a simple majority vote of any kind from changing it, the higher requirements are spelled out.

Now more generally the Constitution (and other laws) protect various rights from mob rule. Property rights would be one of those. 51% of your neighbors can't simply vote that your house should be bulldozed and turned in to a park. Even 100% of your neighbors can't vote to make that happen. Your rights to your property supersede what the majority happens to want.

That doesn't mean that you can do whatever you want. Various HOA rules are completely legal and enforceable, and this might be one of them, but it might now.

As a practical matter if this goes to court it could well be struck down since the city may not have a right to force water usage. One argument is that potable water is a somewhat scarce resource and cities themselves don't control it (water rights are at a higher level). Thus a court could find that the city has no right to tell people they must use extra water, as that can cause harm to surrounding cities.

Re:It's their lawn (1)

iPhr0stByt3 (1278060) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341104)

-1 disagree ;P

Fire hazard (2, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341114)

Wood chips are combustible. They live in a desert. That's a fire hazard. Better to pave it over and paint it green.

Speaking of which... they live in a desert. The only reason they ever had water to put on their lawn is that they import it via aqueducts over 200 miles, transforming the source from a formerly verdant valley into an arid desert.

I'm not sure where the city/county is trying to go here. Normally they pretend to try and be a little eco-friendly in granolaland.

Re:Fire hazard (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341198)

I'm not sure where the city/county is trying to go here. Normally they pretend to try and be a little eco-friendly in granolaland.

FWIW, San Francisco is the granola-land. Los Angeles is the land of false appearances, so forcing people to keep their grass green fits right in.

Re:Fire hazard (4, Funny)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341264)

I propose astroturf then. Though that's still in violation (it's not living). But plastic grass is in the true spirit of LA right? :)

Re:Fire hazard (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341256)

Yes, they live in the desert, so what would happen to the local ecosystem if everyone did this? No grass within 200 miles, just dry woodchips and dirt. Can't imagine that would be a pleasant enviroment.

Re:Fire hazard (1)

elvesrus (71218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341270)

Slight problem with your argument. The ocean is maybe 10 miles away, and the desert is a bit more inland.

Re:It's their lawn (5, Insightful)

Temujin_12 (832986) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341212)

As long as it's not presenting a danger to neighbors, they should be able to do whatever the hell they want with it.

One would think that but......

It looks as though you have yet to have the pleasure to live in a place with a home owner's association (HOA). If you get the wrong people in a HOA or you'll end up with crazy by-laws. You may think that "you'll just stand up to them" but you'll quickly realize that it's not worth the fight considering they can do things like put a lean on your home or take you to court and spend your own home owner dues to prosecute you. Combine this with the general legal craziness that is common in California and HOAs can be horrible.

If home values ever go back up and we move, finding a location without a HOA will be high on the priority list. I see no reason for a HOA as long as there are reasonable county laws. It's just an extra layer of bureaucracy that is often wielded by power-hungry disgruntled neighbors out to make sure the neighborhood looks and sounds just the way they like it.

Re:It's their lawn (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341222)

You are a retard. People who do weird things with their yards affect their neighbors property values, not to mention having to look at an eyesore all the time. Plenty of people wouldn't want to live next to some freaking hippies, even in CA. It's for exactly these reasons that communities pass such ordinances. The law was perfectly clear, and the Has first ignored, then tried to evade it. But kdawson is a douche using typical fud tactics of listing the maximum penalties when no such thing is likely to be brought against them.

Re:It's their lawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341276)

Does that include piling up car wrecks and disassembled lawnmowers?

Re:It's their lawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341282)

In San Francisco everyone paves over their lawns to get additional parking, which increases the value of their homes. Entire blocks are converted to concrete. It prevents stormwater runoff, and according to the EPA "Stormwater can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and flow into a storm sewer image of person standing over eroded streamsystem or directly to a lake, stream, river, wetland, or coastal water. Anything that enters a storm sewer system is discharged untreated into the waterbodies we use for swimming, fishing and providing drinking water."

Re:It's their lawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341296)

It's also Orange County where stupid little stuff like this is super important. They have an 'image' to keep up.

I love the place, but I'm also glad to not live there anymore.

Confusing Summary (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31340900)

At one point, the summary says "Orange County Officials." At another point, it says "city officials." So, which is it--county or city?

Yeah, I know, I could just RTFA but the summary is still sloppy.

Re:Confusing Summary (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341000)

Both the county and the city inside the county are named Orange, which probably confused the submitter. The City of Orange is the one prosecuting, not the County of Orange.

Re:Confusing Summary (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341056)

The issue is in the article - they keep mixing city and county laws and officials as well. If I were a betting man, I'd say that this is the city of Irvine in Orange County. It's the only place in the area that I know that looks like it's located in Oregon, rather than a semi-arid desert. Not to mention that it also has insane laws designed to keep out low-earning immigrants and single people. Forcing people to have a water-guzzling lawn sounds about right for them.

They should have... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31340908)

...just let the lawn die.

It was most likely the suddenness of removal that made the authorities react.

Re:They should have... (2, Informative)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31340982)

The requirement is that they have LIVE plant landscaping. Dead grass wouldn't qualify, and would be violating the code also.

Idiots... the rest of the county is conserving (5, Informative)

originalhack (142366) | more than 4 years ago | (#31340916)

Well, it's nice to know that the city of Orange won't let residents save water while the rest of the towns on the same water system are offering bumper stickers that say "I killed my lawn.. ask me how"

Re:Idiots... the rest of the county is conserving (5, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31340980)

Yeah here in Melbourne, Australia we have been short of water for a long time but it was illegal to install a water tank to capture your own rain water. Then literally overnight tanks were not only made legal but encouraged with a subsidy.

Re:Idiots... the rest of the county is conserving (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341288)

There's no rule against saving water. There's a rule against making your lawn into an eyesore. It affects peoples property values, not to mention pissing them off so that they pester the local government about you.

What fucking morons rated the parent post as "Informative" anyway? Do you even know what that word means?

*Sigh* (1)

gaelfx (1111115) | more than 4 years ago | (#31340920)

Land of the free* prosecution. *As in speech, not beer.

I see you (4, Funny)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31340922)

Now get off my lawn

Re:I see you (2, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341070)

And stay away from my grass!

electrolytes (5, Funny)

Kartoffel (30238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31340934)

They should have watered their lawn with Brawndo. It's got what plants crave.

Re:electrolytes (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341170)

I think that's what the county is trying to force them to do.

Re:electrolytes (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341208)

Force them with a Dildozer?

Re:electrolytes (2, Informative)

LoRdTAW (99712) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341302)

Its got lectrolights

Typical California (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31340942)

When you cross the border into the state you can toss logic, responsibility, decency and common sense in the toilet.

No one is wrong here... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31340944)

... the law requires 40% live ground cover, so they should be given a citation.

They think that law is unjust, so they are doing their duty by not following it.

The correct outcome is for the law to be changed.

Re:No one is wrong here... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31340996)

".. the law requires 40% live ground cover, so they should be given a citation."

Not to put too fine a point on it but, if you take any sample of their wood chipped yard, and looked at it under a microscope, it would most certainly meet the 40% live ground cover criterion.

It says live, it doesn't say it has to be visible to the naked eye...

Re:No one is wrong here... (1, Flamebait)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341230)

You're probably incorrectly assuming that 'live ground cover' doesn't have a legal definition both distinct from reality and free from any sensible meaning, like most legal concepts.

Penn & Teller are always ahead ... (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31340966)

It's NSFSC (Not Safe For Stupid Christians) and NSFOW (Not Safe for Orwellian Workplaces)

It's not entirely their own (1)

iPhr0stByt3 (1278060) | more than 4 years ago | (#31340970)

When I purchased my property there was a bit in the legal docs about keeping the lawn in good shape and not building any other permanent structure on my property (no, I am not allowed to expand). Also, any natural resources found on my property belongs to the city. But, I don't mind these stipulations. I got a nice house for little cost and I know my neighbors will continue to have nice homes also. Based on the summary, the penalties are fairly slim I'd say (they will never get the jail time unless they piss on the court, and $1000 is a reasonable sum). However, if the Has are trying to appease the city by planting bushes and are not skipping court then the court should rule in their favor, IMO.

Re:It's not entirely their own (1)

CodeDragonDM (1570963) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341064)

Yet they'll miss work and time with their child while some of the more obnoxious busy bodies come in to tell the home owner how to own their home. My parents live in a relatively nice suburb where they are constantly being called on for owning sub-par vehicles even though it is not against the law. This is done by neighbours they regularly talk to as well on friendly terms, too!

They (the owners) will probably have a bored judge tell the couple to make it more green to shut up the hours of complaining by either the neighbours or city/county official who's taken it upon their self to keep their city/county "beautiful".

Might just be six hours totally of their time, even that isn't worth it.

Re:It's not entirely their own (1)

iPhr0stByt3 (1278060) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341136)

This has been going on for two years... I don't think "lack of time" is the problem here. They even had time to plant some stuff and put up a cool fence. I think they're making an honest effort, but they still need to compy with the 40% clause.

Re:It's not entirely their own (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341102)

Seriously, I'm glad I don't live where you are. The land I own is mine, the mineral rights I bought from the county the day I moved in. Everything is mine except the 10ft of grass on the front which is allowed for road growth/utilities from the roadway. I can do whatever I want, I've grown scottish thistle in my yard and even had bylaw come by complaining about the 'weeds'. Until I pointed out that I enjoy making tea from them.

I'm guessing you live in the US somewhere, I live in Canada. I have more land access and property rights then you do now...that makes me sad.

Re:It's not entirely their own (1)

iPhr0stByt3 (1278060) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341150)

It should make you happy ;-) Afterall, you have more rights. I'm ok with my land ownership stipulations (not necessarily happy).

Re:It's not entirely their own (1)

Nikker (749551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341258)

They definitely have HOA's in Canada but mostly just in the suburbs and cities. Canada has a lot of land outside the suburbs where you can get an acre lot easily, you can do what ever you like on it but there are definitely areas just like this one lives in where if enough people in your neighborhood whine enough they can have your house painted, kill a renno plan or tell you what kind of tree to plant in your front yard. It just matters who you live beside ;)

Re:It's not entirely their own (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341304)

You're willing to chip in for the water bill then? OC is a DESERT. Grass does not naturally grow there in the quality and quantity that you find on the golf course. The fact these two have taken CA's water conservation messages, messages that get commercial time during droughts, that have gigs of website data devoted them, to heart and then being smacked down by the same government that put them in place is nothing short of blisteringly ironic.

It sucks that these two are being dragged through the court system, but this should get loads of attention from on high and show just how moronic city codes like this truly are.

Why not to live inside a city (1)

CodeDragonDM (1570963) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341012)

Things like this show why living inside city limits as a home owner is a nightmare. If they read their city, county, and neighborhood by-laws, it probably stated something in legalese to the effect that the lawn had to be to a code that was only poorly worded as the legal body figured no one would test it.

It's a form of conservitism that demands zero conservation of natural resources, and these people can go to jail over it. It's sick.

Re:Why not to live inside a city (1)

iPhr0stByt3 (1278060) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341076)

I don't see how it reflect conservatism. Conservatists are often the first to save energy, even if they only do it for the money savings. But that's besides the point. The only reason the Has are having trouble is because the city is demanding they hold to city code and they are unable to do so after two years... I think the code needs to be updated to allow for more conservative usage of resources.

Re:Why not to live inside a city (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341100)

But the city has fast internets!

As someone who grew up in the country... (4, Funny)

Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341024)

I've always hoped that these sorts of ordinances are made up. Just scary stories you city folk tell us country bumpkins to keep us out.

Right?
Right??

Couple could face a maximum penalty of six months (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341028)

...in jail for removing their grass.

Meanwhile, Bush walks free. What a fucking nutcase country.

Anther case of Laws not keeping up with Reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341030)

Start a petition and maybe initiate some good, clear citizen-initiated legislation to help the Law to keep up.

Simple & sweet. Of course, it'll take some time & $$$.

Is there any recourse to a State Ombudsman?

or an environmental agency, to block or, better, undo the nonsense, just exposed?

All this needs is some Practical Wisdom, on the part of the misdirected officials
(or, better, sackings of the same, eg, by wiser managers).

PS Does anybody know of some green microplants that grow well on wood chips, without destroying it? It would have to absorb its life-supporting water from the air & keep it inside, to preclude loss by evaporation, etc. It would also have to attract its own nutrients (since its' not allow to destroy the wood chips. Or maybe it could drop roots & "mine" the soil below for what it needs.

Is there a Genetic Engineer in the audience? Above are the spec's, we need it in 10 working days. ;-)

How do you define Irony? (5, Informative)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341050)

LA Offers upto a $2000 rebate for ripping up your lawn [latimes.com]

Seems that in June of '09, LA wanted to try to catch up with LasVegas who is paying people to rip up their lawns as well.

the intent of the cash-for-grass program is to reduce the 50 to 90 inches of water routinely applied to turf every year. Drought-tolerant substitutes may require just 15 -- in keeping with L.A.'s average annual rainfall.

For information on the L.A. Department of Water and Power program, call the regional water agency rebate hotline at ..... The recording will say funding for regionwide programs is exhausted, but keep listening. DWP customers can press 3 for more details on their rebate.

Also, here's the link to the SoCal Turf Removal Program. [socalwatersmart.com]

Revenue Streams (3, Interesting)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341062)

FTFA: "Meanwhile, the couple said they had reduced their water usage from 299,221 gallons in 2007 to 58,348 gallons in 2009."

Hmm, I wonder if this is to do with revenue from water supply.

In my town, water metering is being implemented over time. As infrastructure is serviced, new metering tech in being roled out. At some point we will have to pay when the scheme is finalized.

Coincidentily, the permit fees for watertanks has been put up, to the point it is like any of the "green" decisions: high capital outlay(factoring in the fees) to the the point one asks if financial return in 10 years is worth it.

Re:Revenue Streams (1)

lul_wat (1623489) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341298)

Herei n Auckland, New Zealand the city managed to reduce its water use (I think by 10%) which is quite massive. In turn the water company put up its prices because it was "Sell a lower volume of water" - net result we use less water and pay the same amount

Seriously you guys... (5, Funny)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341068)

... you guys in the USA need a lawn czar to stop this kind of stupidity ;)

In Soviet Russia... (1)

Torodung (31985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341092)

In Soviet Russia, this is exactly the sort of thing that happened.

I suppose there's a joke about him "not getting off for his lawn," but we're all better off to souse our hopes for the Republic in some imported vodka.

So sad.

--
Toro

I have to say (1)

urusan (1755332) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341132)

Their lawn actually looks pretty good in that photo. It's got to be pretty low maintenance, and it saves them water money too. All of these things are desirable attributes.

I'm not an environmentalist myself, but it seems to me that their lawn is a very good fit for their local environment. It is well designed and integrated.

I wonder why the city is freaking out so badly. Do they consider it a fire hazard? Did the couple piss off somebody at city hall? Is the city administration just very strict about implementing its regulations?

There is Orange and there is Orange County (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341148)

The Has live in both [ocweekly.com] :

[Excerpt]

"Quan and Angelina Ha are good eggs, they understand Southern California is in the clutches of a nasty drought and they want to leave the planet a better place for their newborn. But the couple is going to Orange County Superior Court today to fight a lawsuit Orange, the city they reside in, has filed against them. Their heinous crime: ripping out their water-sucking front lawn."

lawns and SoCal (2, Insightful)

OnePumpChump (1560417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341166)

Lawns are an abomination (at least if you don't have enough rainfall to support one), and Southern California is a hellhole.

Lichens (2, Interesting)

jdigriz (676802) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341172)

Would lichens count as live plants for the purpose of the ordinance? They take very little water and never need mowing.

What's truly illegal is common sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341180)

They should be given tax breaks for removing their lawns while people with lawns should be charged extra to pay for the tax breaks. Once the system balances out cancel the tax breaks and ban new lawns from being added. Need more people to remove lawns? Raise residential water prices. People that want to live in the desert shouldn't be allowed to have lawns. Also new houses should never be allowed to have lawns in desert areas. Why should everyone face rationing because of lawns??? Want to hear the worst offenders? Golf Courses. They use a massive percentage of the available water and in some areas use more than home owners. You'll never ban golf courses though, too many of the rich and powerful play. You'll see people going without showers before they ban golf courses.

covering 40% (2, Interesting)

OnePumpChump (1560417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341190)

There are low-lying, wide-spreading shrubs that do not require watering in even drier climates than theirs that could easily be arranged to cover 40% of that yard. They can stick with their approach and still give the finger to their city of assholes. My dad's front yard has some...not sure what they're called but the cats love them (probably because the lizards love them).

These People (1)

hduff (570443) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341218)

are obviously a threat to our security and the sanctity of the community. The government is doing the right thing here. (NOTE: stupid people with mod points-- this is sarcasm).

Foolish, shallow, and irresponsible decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31341284)

The next time there's a water shortage, that community should bear the overwhelming brunt of it. Heavy-handed, forced waste in the face of scarcity? They deserve to face the consequences of their actions.

exhausted their options? (0, Redundant)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 4 years ago | (#31341292)

get a facebook campaign going... get it on boingboing... far more visible... get their local news channel in on the case... after all... who reads the newspapers these days... ;)

make the county officials look so stupid applying a code that is crying out to be repealed...

one can only surmise that they've upset a neighbour who's then gone through the code book with a fine toothed comb to find a way to get back at them.

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