Don’t Fine Citizens for Water Conservation


Target: California Governor Jerry Brown

Goal: Stop conscientious homeowners from being fined for not maintaining green lawns during California’s major drought

In July 2014, the California State Water Resources Control Board approved an emergency regulation in response to the state’s severe drought, instituting fines of up to $500 for the excessive use of water. Unfortunately, many cities are imposing counter-intuitive regulations at the same time.

Michael Korte and Laura Whitney of Glendora received a letter from the city warning them that they had 60 days to improve the state of their brown, under-watered lawn in their upscale community outside of Los Angeles. The letter threatened fines between $100 and $500 and arrived the same day the state announced the $500 a day fine for the excessive use of water outdoors.

California’s “Brown is the New Green” slogan is clearly the state’s goal, but local jurisdiction threatens environmentally conscious homeowners with contradictory regulations. Glendora Mayor Judy Nelson is one of many California lawmakers arguing that property value must be maintained despite the current crisis. “Our water conservation officers are there to help them figure out how to still have a beautiful yard without using up too much water,” Nelson said.

A bill introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown protecting conservationist homeowners from local fines was scrapped for an honor system, as she was assured conflicting water usage fines would not be leveled against citizens following state laws. Assemblywoman Brown is now considering reintroducing the bill in 2015, but disparages its necessity. As Brown says, “It’s too bad you need a law.”

Urge California lawmakers to end conflicting fines and support the decision of conscientious homeowners to adhere to the state’s slogan, regardless of local regulations. The detrimental California drought deserves to be treated as such.


Dear Governor Brown,

Conflicting local jurisdictions threaten to fine California citizens for following state laws on water conservation in a time of severe drought. While recently approved state laws impose fines of $500 per day to citizens for the excessive use of water outdoors, city officials continue to support regulations to maintain attractive lawns and preserve local property values.

While the two regulations are not mutually exclusive, the notion that a homeowner can be fined for remodeling her lawn in a water-efficient, yet attractive manner is both ridiculous and blind to true priority. Local officials are well within their bounds to strongly suggest landscaping upkeep and provide homeowners with useful tips, but fining them for wearing a conscientious brown badge around their home is a gross overstep.

I urge you to ban local fines on lawn maintenance and instead support California’s drought crisis initiative.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay

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