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By Brian Hews
AB 1164, authored by California Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale), recently approved by both the State Senate and the Assembly, will override part of Cerritos’ current Landscape Ordinance and allow Cerritos residents to install artificial turf on their property.
The bill is “on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk” awaiting signature.
In June 2004, the Cerritos City Council, with Bob Hughlette as Mayor, John Crawley as Mayor pro tem, and Council members Gloria Kappe, Laura Lee and Paul Bowlen, passed Ordinance 885 that “prohibited the use of materials such as silk plants, synthetic turf, plastic trees and shrubs in any landscape in Cerritos.”
Cerritos City staff “researched the use of synthetic turf material in residential applications and found that the use of artificial turf creates an area of diminished biological activity, which inhibits the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the soil.”
Then Governor Brown issued and Executive Order to implement mandatory water reductions statewide and reduce California’s water usage by 25% went into effect.
One component of the order compelled the replacement of 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought tolerant landscaping.
According to the Department of Water Resources, landscape irrigation represents 43 percent of urban water use.
The installation of synthetic grass or artificial turf, in lieu of conventional lawns and landscapes, would directly reduce outdoor water use to help meet the mandated 25% statewide water use reduction.
Among a wide variety of drought tolerant landscaping are a variety of native plants and landscaping alternatives, including the installation of synthetic grass or artificial turf.
HMG-CN contacted Assemblyman Gatto for clarification, as Cerritos is a Charter City. Gatto said, “We have included charter cities in the bill, the state law will override charter city law.”
That part of AB 1164 read, “a city, including a charter city, county, or city and county, shall not enact any ordinance or regulation, or enforce any existing ordinance or regulation, that prohibits the installation of drought tolerant landscaping, synthetic grass, or artificial turf on residential property.”
However, the city may impose “reasonable restrictions” on the type of drought tolerant landscaping, synthetic grass, or artificial turf that may be installed on residential property.
The bill also outlined what the restrictions cannot do: substantially increase the cost of installing drought tolerant landscaping, synthetic grass, or artificial turf; effectively prohibit the installation of drought tolerant landscaping, synthetic grass, or artificial turf; significantly impede the installation of drought tolerant landscaping, including, but not limited to, a requirement that a residential yard must be completely covered with living plant material.
There are good and bad arguments for the artificial turf.
The average American lawn gulps down over 21,000 gallons of water per year.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a new gas powered lawn mower produces more volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides emissions air pollution in one hour of operation than 10 new cars, each being driven for one hour.
Fertilizers, most of which are synthetic, are placed on real grass can end up in our waterways and moved out to the ocean.
According to the Huffington Post, there is mounting concern over potential environmental and health hazards posed by the artificial alternative: from climate change impacts, to simple injuries like burns, to potential safety concerns about the chemicals, many of them carcinogens, found in infill, those little rubber pieces in the grass designed to soften your step.
The infill is made primarily of crushed rubber tires, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, can contain heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, carbon black and other known cancer-causing chemicals.
There are other types of artificial turf that can be purchased without the infill.
Laurie Kajiwara, spokesperson for the City of Cerritos, told HMG-CN about the impending passage of the bill, “If the bill is passed, the City will take appropriate measures to conform with any new requirements.
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