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New CA Houses Might Only Be Allowed a Small Patch of Lawn

Great news for people who hate mowing the lawn: in the near future, there will probably be a lot less of it. The California Water Commission is hearing proposed new rules that would limit the amount of grass that future houses, schools, and commercial buildings can put in. New houses with more than 500 square feet of landscape area—front yard and back, plus side yards, not including the footprint of the structure or the driveway—could only put down grass on 25 percent of that space, according to the LA Times. Only plants that are naturally tolerant to droughts like the one the entire state has been in for years could be used to fill in the remaining space.

The revisions would affect not only new houses—they would also apply to existing landscapable spaces of more than 2,500 square feet "that undergo complex renovations," making it so that grass is "all but banned" at the sites of new non-residential construction. (They could have "a small slice of turf," as long as the remaining space is covered with plants that don't require much water.) Only recreational spaces and areas irrigating with recycled water would be exempt from the new regulations.

These proposed new rules are part of what's called the Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance. Governor Jerry Brown's drought order earlier this year, responsible for sweeping water cutbacks across the state, also required that officials revisit the ordinance and tweak it to fit the needs of the dry, dry times. As with any change that happens anywhere, there's pushback. Opponents of the proposed lawn restrictions say that they infringe on "[homeowners'] freedom to plant as they choose" (and waste water as they choose!).

But supporters of the rules to limit lawn sizes say that plenty of homeowners are already wising up to fact that large, green lawns might not be suited for California (the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has already blown through more than $300 million in rebates to people who rip out their lawns) and that it's time that everybody else caught on already.
· How more lawn restrictions could remake the California landscape [LAT]
· Mapping SoCal's Mandatory Water Cutbacks Big and Small [Curbed LA]