By Ted AYALA
After previously batting it down, Glendale is once again considering the use of artificial turf on residential properties.
With the heat beating down on Southern California for months, any hope of a downpour to salvage another dismal rainy season has virtually evaporated. Add to that mandatory water usage cuts of 25% statewide ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown, and it’s easy to see why city officials are beginning to feel the heat.
Glendale’s Community Development Dept. is currently drafting an ordinance that, if passed, would loosen restrictions on the use of artificial turf, as well as guidelines for the maintenance of residential landscaping.
According to City of Glendale Public Works Director Roubik Golanian, the proposed draft would mirror the requirements of the ordinance as applied to landscaping within the parkways.
The issue has ignited fierce debate in the city as well as within the city council.
Mayor Ara J. Najarian, a proponent of the use of artificial turf, has touted its benefit as a water-conserving alternative to the lawns and gardens that currently adorn many local homes.
“Ten years ago I don’t think any of us would have had a burning desire to discuss this issue,” he said at a council meeting in May. “[But artificial turf] saves water. That’s why we’re here.”
Councilmember Laura Friedman has emerged as a major opponent of artificial turf citing concerns over potential toxins and chemical run-off in the turf’s crumb rubber.
“Let’s even assume that it saves water,” she said at the same meeting. “[Artificial turf] has just as bad reflectivity as asphalt, creating a heat island effect. One of the challenges as we move forward is going to be heat. Artificial turf increases that problem. These products are made out of plastic. Plastics do leech into water. We could be looking at problems down the road.”
Glendale’s share of water usage cuts was set by the state at 20%. As of May, Glendale Water & Power (GWP) has managed to slash water use by 12%.
As the region continues to wither amidst the fourth year of exceptional drought conditions Glendale’s hands may be forced to consider some hard options in the coming months.
The proposed draft is scheduled to appear before the council in the fall.