STEVE LOPEZ

Glendale yard cops are at it again

Here we go again, back to my favorite place in all of Southern California -- the city where no good deed goes unpunished.

Glendale.

This time it's not about the ban on frontyard fences, or a threatened $347,000 fine for a little tree trimming. This time we've got a case of City Hall yard cops cracking down on a resident who has gone native, replacing a green but thirsty lawn with drought-resistant plants.

Socially responsible?

Yes.

In compliance with city code?

Not on your life.

If this seems like déjà vu all over again, that's because the case is quite similar to the one I wrote about in February. Back then, Pete Anderson and Sally Browder were threatened with "criminal charges" after switching from water-guzzling landscaping to native California plants and a rock bed.

"No brown, all green," an ever-vigilant Glendale official had warned, but the city backed off after a little crusading here in this space.

With that in mind, Glendale resident Dvoshe Walkowiak wondered if I could make another house call.

"Please," she said in an e-mail. "Glendale is out of control."

Always happy to help.

On Monday afternoon, I drove out to the house in question. Walkowiak lives on the western edge of the city, and as I approached, I saw one green lawn after another, with sprinklers running at some houses.

In a drought, shouldn't they be the people who are cited?

The offending property stood out like a sore thumb. Instead of lush, neatly manicured grass, I saw decorative rocks, mulch and a couple dozen native plants.

The miscreant responsible for this abomination greeted me on the front porch of the house she rents with a friend and two children. Walkowiak, a union organizer, said the owner pretty much leaves the landscaping to her and Quintin Carter, the guy she lives with.

The frontyard had been nothing but crab grass, which yellowed as always last summer, and this naturally caught the attention of Glendale's ever-vigilant inspectors. The city has five employees out and about, looking for precisely this kind of subversive behavior.

"They said we had to have it green within 30 days or we'd be fined," Walkowiak said. "I thought, 'OK, I'll rise to the occasion.' "

And so she began drenching the crab grass. "I was out here every night," she said. "It was lush, it was green."

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