City demands removal of artificial grass

To the handful of residents who thought they’d be able to keep artificial turf they installed in their front yards prior to the city solidifying its ban on fake grass last summer — think again.

Some residents who installed the turf before August, when the City Council took a hard line against allowing the stuff in front yards, had hoped that they’d be grandfathered in under the ban. But city officials on Tuesday confirmed that any existing violators would have to restore their properties to comply with the law.

The clarification came almost two months after Glendale began sending notices of violation to residents with faux turf in their front yards. The ban has been in place for years, but enforcement was put on hold as the council mulled changing the rule.

In clarifying the policy, Community Development Director Hassan Haghani said no one would be exempt from the rules.

“People can always apply for a variance, but staff wouldn’t recommend approval,” Haghani said.

In that scenario, those in violation of the zoning law could technically appeal their case all the way to the City Council, but a majority on that dais turned down the front-yard provision.

Artificial turf is only allowed in backyards, away from street view.

Public discussions of the turf last year focused on environmental concerns. Those who support it say it saves water, while opponents say it could cause lead poisoning and other environmental hazards, such as a “heat-island” effect that occurs when unnatural surfaces get hot.

Proponents point out that artificial turf has been used at school sites and sports fields in Glendale.

Victor Hanson said he installed his turf in 2004 and received a violation notice in 2009. His case was one of several that were put on hold. He got a notice earlier this month that gave him 30 days to swap his turf.

Haghani said if violators don’t comply, their cases are referred to the city attorney’s office.

According to the January letter sent to Hanson from the city, officials could notify the Franchise Tax Board of the issue and “tax deductions relating to the property will not be allowed until the substandard conditions are corrected.”

“They give me mixed messages about what the penalty is,” Hanson said, adding that for now, he doesn’t plan to remove it. According to the city letter, he must comply by Feb. 6.

David Wood, who also has fake turf in his front yard, got a similar notice in November. He was told to remove his artificial grass within 30 days.

He hasn’t done so and the city hasn’t followed up, he said.

Geneva Dotson, who lives a few blocks away from Wood, also received a notice in November. She spent $1,000 to remove her artificial turf and replace it with drought-tolerant plants and bark.

She shifted the plastic turf to her backyard. It doesn’t cover the whole area, but she said she couldn’t afford to pay for more turf after changing her front yard. The landscape designer that installed her fake grass gave her some free scraps to complete the project.

“It looks a little bit patched, but hey, it’s coverage,” Dotson said.

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