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Garden Grove California moves to lift ban on artificial grass

The council voted unanimously Tuesday night to start looking at ways to allow the synthetic turf at homes and businesses

“I think it’s very difficult to tell people you can’t have a brown lawn but don’t put a green one in if it’s artificial,” said Mayor William Dalton. “The point is you still have to offer people alternatives. This is an alternative that is very viable. I’d rather see artificial than brown lawns.”

GARDEN GROVE – The city’s ban on the use of synthetic turf ban is on its way out.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to begin the process of updating a city ordinance that completely bans the use of the artificial grass.

“I think it’s very difficult to tell people you can’t have a brown lawn but don’t put a green one in if it’s artificial,” said Mayor William Dalton. “The point is you still have to offer people alternatives. This is an alternative that is very viable. I’d rather see artificial than brown lawns.”

Marlem Mason and Cookie Smith, two residents who installed synthetic turf at their respective homes and have led the charge against the ban, were among about 40 people who attended the meeting. Of the 12 residents who spoke on the turf issue, all were in favor of overturning the ban.

The council asked city staff to come back at a later meeting with several options for allowing the fake grass in residential and commercial properties and to look into the safety and environmental effects of synthetic turf.

“I think we do need a little more time to study as far as what the pitfalls are,” Dalton said.

Dalton also told staff to halt any enforcement of the synthetic turf ban until the issue had been decided.

Garden Grove is one of five Orange County cities where synthetic turf is completely banned in both residential and commercial uses. Meanwhile, the Municipal Water District of Orange County offers a rebate to households that install synthetic turf. Of seven water rebates denied because of bans, three were in Garden Grove, according to the water district.

The ordinance had been enacted in 1992 for aesthetic reasons, staff members said.

Some of the residents who spoke had already installed or were planning to install synthetic turf and were upset that they could not receive the rebate.

Several shared pictures of their turf, and a turf supplier brought a sample to show the council how the grass has been improved in the past decade.

Residents also talked about how easy the turf is to maintain and keep looking nice. They stressed its water saving abilities, especially during the current drought situation in California. And the lower water bills, they said, don’t hurt either.

Synthetic turf can save around 45 gallons of water a year per square foot of grass replaced, which can add up to thousands of gallons per household, experts say.

“I hope my city doesn’t take too long to wake up to the water crisis that is looming,” said resident Connie Naranjo, who plans to install synthetic turf at her home soon.

For other residents, the issue was more about government control.

“The subject of my lawn should be my business as long as it’s not an eyesore,” said David Lauthboren, who has lived in Garden Grove for 45 years.

The cities of Santa Ana, La Palma, Stanton and Orange have similar residential and commercial bans, according to a water district document. Ten other Orange County cities have various synthetic turf restrictions and guidelines and many homeowners associations across the county ban and restrict turf as well.

Several residents who supported changing the ban emphasized there will still need to be some sort of standards set.

“I think there would need to be some consideration, like real grass, where it needs to look presentable,” said resident Rod Powell.

The council members agreed, and said that they would like to see how other cities handle turf restrictions.

Overall, the council members expressed support for removing the ban soon. “The less we restrict what people can do,” said Councilman Mark Rosen, “the better off we are.”

Contact the writer: mhicken@ocregister.com 714-445-6695

Original Post and Copyright: The Orange County Register

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