Code enforcement officials have issued six notices of violation to residents who, despite a citywide ban approved nearly three months ago, kept their artificial front lawns.
Glendale allows artificial turf in backyards, away from public view, but the City Council this year decided to continue to ban the faux grass from front yards, putting some residents who had already undergone the installation on the wrong side of the law.
One of them, David Wood, has long battled to keep his artificial turf. He got a notice of violation on Nov. 3, but said city officials told him nearly two years ago that he wouldn't have to take out his fake grass.
"At this point in time, they're telling me to pull it out," said Wood, who lives on Piedmont Avenue. "It was a total surprise."
In general, most residents were told the city wouldn't enforce its ban until the City Council ruled on the matter, which it now has, said Senior Neighborhood Services Supervisor John Brownell. Some violators received notices more than a year ago, but the cases were put on hold.
During the debate at City Hall this year, opponents of artificial turf — already used at some school sites and sports fields — voiced concerns about lead poisoning and other environmental hazards, such as a "heat-island" effect, which occurs when unnatural surfaces get hot. Proponents said artificial turf saves water, and can be just as visually appealing as the real thing — minus the maintenance.
That's why Geneva Dotson, who lives a few blocks away from Wood, installed the fake turf in her own front yard in July. She said she didn't know about the city ban.
"I was blindsided," she said.
Dotson is one of the first violators to remove her artificial turf. It came out this week, and now she's working on installing the 50% live plants required in front yards.
She had considered applying for a variance, but that could cost thousands of dollars, and ultimately, Dotson said, she determined it wasn't worth the risk.
"The cost [of a variance] is prohibitive," Dotson said. "They're not going to give it to you anyway. You'd be spending good money after bad money."
Brownell said several violators have been upset when code enforcement officials told them to remove the artificial turf. Some have vowed to keep their yards the way they are, he said, a move that could lead to the case being referred to the city attorney's office.
"We're hoping it doesn't get to that point," Brownell said, adding that more violation notices might be coming. "We're just starting to get this thing rolling again."