Glendale area has dueling artificial turf rules

In an effort to decrease water usage as the cost of imported water keeps climbing, the Crescenta Valley Water District board has agreed to double the rebate it gives to property owners who install artificial turf or drought-tolerant plants.

The boost comes as the city of Glendale continues to crack down on those with faux grass in their front yards.

The water district has been offering the rebate since 2003, but saw a roughly 40% drop in participants last year compared to the program's peak in 2010, when about 50 rebates were issued.

By offering $1 per square foot, rather than 50 cents, Crescenta Valley officials hope the program will rebound as the cost for imported water increases and demand continues to outpace supply. After two water-rate increases last year, the district is currently mulling another one.

"It saves [customers] so much money in water maintenance," said Christy Scott, spokeswoman for the water agency.

Since 2003, 202 rebates have been issued. While residents in unincorporated areas don't have any restrictions on grass replacements, those who live in Glendale but are Crescenta Valley customers must follow the city's strict rules, including the ban on artificial turf.

Most Crescenta Valley customers live in the unincorporated areas of La Crescenta, but some live in portions annexed by Glendale decades ago.

"We have had customers who have done it and been cited by Glendale," Scott said, adding that as long as Glendale residents follow the city's rules — such as placing artificial turf in backyards that can't be seen from the street — they can apply for a rebate.

Glendale has long banned artificial turf in front yards, but enforcement was put on hold a few years ago as the City Council considered several proposed rule changes. But in 2011, the council reinforced the ban and city officials reinvigorated enforcement.

Code enforcement officials have issued at least seven artificial-turf violations since 2010, and all but two of the property owners have torn out their faux grass.

One of the remaining violators received a roughly year-long extension from the city, according to city records.

But that deadline is almost here: They must remove their artificial turf by Thursday, said John Brownell, Glendale's principal neighborhood services supervisor.

The other violator could also request an extension, but hasn't done so yet, Brownell said, That violator is just one notice away from their case being referred to the city attorney's office, he added.

While there have been some holdouts, most violators have replaced their plastic grass with approved alternatives, such as drought-tolerant plants.

David Wood faced fines which could have reached more than $1,000, and possible jail time, before he agreed to remove his turf a few months ago.

Wood, who paid $4,000 to install the plastic grass in his front and back yards, fought for months to keep the artificial turf he had installed at a rental property he owns in North Glendale. But when he moved to the Palm Desert area for work, he decided it would be too difficult to wage a battle from afar.

He rolled up the turf in the front yard and replaced it with roses and two fruit trees, which his father installed for about $150. He's keeping the plastic grass stored along the side of the house just in case city officials change the rule, which he thinks will happen as water prices increase.

"I have a feeling that sooner or later they'll cave in and make it legal," Wood said.

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