Readers React

Don't pick too much on water-chugging Rancho Santa Fe

To the editor: The article on the conspicuously large, green lawns and pools of water-wasting Rancho Santa Fe reminds me of the old joke about the drunk looking for his keys under the street lamp. The answer to California's water problems does not lie in the suburbs, but in the rice fields of the Central Valley. ("Rancho Santa Fe ranked as state's largest residential water hog," Dec. 2)

Cities use a small portion of California's developed water. The situation would be improved if we were to let the free market work.

If farmers sold their entitled water, the price should equalize, with farmers paying a little more and city dwellers a lot less. This would incentivize farmers to grow less thirsty crops, use more efficient methods of irrigation and maybe even fallow some marginal land. Entrepreneurs would look for newer, cheaper sources of water.

Human ingenuity can solve almost any problem, but not in a straitjacket.

Jaco van der Colff, Woodland Hills


To the editor: A quote from real estate broker Catherine Barry reminded me of a recent epiphany. Referring to the sprawling lawns around estates, Barry stated, "That's like the frame of a house."

A few weeks ago, I visited a landscape client seeking advice about artificial turf, of which I'm not a fan. For the first time, I asked, "Is it the blades of grass you like or just the look of green 'flooring'?" She replied, "Yes, I just like the look."

I suggested low, fine-textured, low-water-using ground covers and a few stepping stones to allow passage through the space. Done.

For large properties, one of the best small-leaf, tough-as-nails, rabbit-proof ground covers is Myoporum parvifolium, or creeping myoporum. Each plant spreads 10 to 15 feet and stays under 12 inches tall. Bonus: no air-polluting mowing equipment, no fossil fuel-based fertilizers.


Billy Goodnick, Santa Barbara

The writer is an adjunct professor of residential landscape design at Santa Barbara City College and co-founder of the Lawn Reform Coalition.


To the editor: Thank you for reporting on the extravagant water waste still going on in Rancho Santa Fe.

In this day and age, I cannot believe these people still have multiple-acre lots covered in non-native grass. Three acres? One hundred acres? It should be illegal to plant and maintain "just grass" over such vast expanses.

We cannot afford the water.

Greg Golden, Van Nuys

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