News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by
Environment & Science

Glendora couple could be fined for having brown lawn — and trying to water it

A dry lawn in Southern California
A dry lawn in Southern California
Green Canary

Listen to story

Download this story 11MB

California is in the middle of an extreme drought, and most of us are doing whatever we can to conserve water.

You kind of have to now: the state will fine water-wasters up to $500 a day.

Michael Korte and Laura Whitney-Korte of Glendora did a number of things to cut back, including watering their lawn less, which made it brown and patchy.

It turns out that effort got them into trouble, because they got a letter in the mail from the city's police department.

"At the bottom, there are photos," said Whitney-Korte on Take Two. "There's an X through a picture of a house with a lawn that looks a lot like ours. And in the middle is a 'Do' picture, which has the lushest, thickest grass I think I've ever seen with a bright yellow sprinkler going full blast in the middle of the day."

Laura and her husband were told to make their lawn look like the latter picture in 60 days — or face fines up $500.

"I was flabbergasted," said Whitney-Korte.

Then, on Thursday night, the mayor of Glendora called to say their home was anonymously reported as abandoned, and that investigators determined it was a blight.

"It's just very difficult to live in a community where you feel like they're all against you for something that you felt you were [doing to be] a good neighbor, a good citizen by reducing your water use," said Whitney-Korte.

At the time this interviewed aired, the city of Glendora hadn't responded to KPCC's request for comment.

In the meantime, Whitney-Korte said she is still uncertain about what she and her husband will do, because even tearing out the lawn to install drought tolerant plants wouldn't adhere to the 60 day deadline to have a green landscape.

"We're still kind of not sure what the expectation is or what would be acceptable," she said.