My colleague Lori Gilbert put her finger on an absurd city law in her column about artificial turf.
“Part of the silence (about artificial turf in the water conservation debate) may be the city’s ordinance, which requires 50 percent of front yard space be devoted to live plants, shrubs or lawns.”
This law is not only outdated, it’s a classic example of government sticking its nose into property rights. I’m not Richard Pombo, but come on. Where does a city get off telling us what to do with our yards?
That issue aside, the law is counter-productive. We need to save water, both to meet the “20×2020 plan” (to reduce per capita urban water use 20 percent by 2020) and to live within our limits so that procrustean engineering monstrosities such as the peripheral tunnels are not necessary. A law ordering us to have things to water does not help.
Besides, artificial turf has come a long way. Though I didn’t mention it when I wrote about smooth jazz on the waterfront, the courtyard of the University Plaza Hotel is turfed with the stuff. It doesn’t look or feel alien any more (you can see it here).