Calif. Lawmakers Eye Artificial Grass to Combat Drought

As the drought in California continues, some old ideas about water are getting a much needed second-look. In particular, some lawmakers are working to modernize existing laws governing artificial grass. California Assembly member Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) has been working legislation to promote water-saving solutions through state government for several years. Gatto’s most recent effort, Assembly Bill 1194, recently reached an important milestone on its path to becoming law when it was passed by a 9-0 vote by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water.

In many jurisdictions in California, it used to be that installing artificial grass was strongly discouraged, if not outright forbidden. Municipal code, HOAs and other means of oversight have for years prevented some Californians from installing artificial grass. If passed, AB 1194 would prohibit a city, including a charter city, county, and city and county, from enacting or enforcing any ordinance or regulation that prohibits the installation of synthetic grass or artificial turf on residential property.

The bill would also create incentives for homeowners to install artificial grass. If signed into law, AB 1194 would continuously appropriate $300,000,000 from the General Fund to the Department of Water Resources to provide matching funds to specified local agencies to provide incentives to residents to replace water-inefficient landscaping with drought-tolerant landscaping.

According to Gatto and bill co-authors Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) and Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) “allowing property owners in this state to install synthetic grass or artificial turf on their residential properties is a matter of statewide concern.”

“AB 1164 empowers Californians to go beyond standard water saving efforts like shorter showers and efficient-flush toilets, and make more long-term investments in their homes to conserve water,” Gatto said in a statement. “With 60% of residential water going to lawns and other outdoor uses, it’s time for government to stop being part of the problem. This legislation will allow water-conscious residents to diversify their water-saving efforts.”

The text of Assembly Bill 1194 is available here.

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Posted on August 4, 2015