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Some want to throw the book at LAPD

The article about the new Los Angeles Police Department headquarters in downtown Los Angeles [“LAPD Green: Does New Garden Keep in Step With Eco-Aware Times?,” May 23] missed a couple of salient points, not just for “conservationists,” as Emily Green wrote, but for all human beings dwelling within our city. The LAPD landscape is what we landscape design professionals call green outside, brown inside.

About 800,000 to 1 million gallons of water annually are required to keep three-quarters of an acre of Marathon turf lawn healthy, if maintained at a height of 4 to 7 inches. That’s enough water to keep 4,500 to 5,500 people alive for a year.

Compacted turf has a runoff coefficient near 60%, meaning 60% of the storm water directed to the turf will, in fact, continue to run off.

Designers cited the heat island effect as one of the problems eased by lawn, but any healthy plant material covering the same square footage would have contributed to the reduction of heat island effect.

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Rotator spray heads can reduce water usage, but they must be set back 24 inches from hardscape in order to reduce over-spray and dry-weather runoff. The turf will never be irrigated effectively around the edges without wasting water.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, or LEED, has a certification process that is flawed if it does not educate design professionals executing the project or residents who will use the space.

They should be aware of the true social, economic and aesthetic costs of landscaping in the old, failed, habitat-depleting paradigm.

Pamela Berstler

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On behalf of 27 other landscape professionals

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I was stunned to see the huge swath of sod lawn in front of the new LAPD headquarters. This at a time when we are all being asked to conserve water? What hypocrisy!

The designers’ defense that it will catch storm runoff is ludicrous.

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There are low-water native plants such as yarrow that can be a walkable ground cover if mowed and will soak up more water than sod because of its deeper root system.

The city should be setting an example for the rest of us. New sod lawns should be banned and people encouraged to reduce or eliminate existing lawns!

Alan Pollack

Audubon-at-Home chairman San Fernando Valley Audubon Society

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