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Learn How to Weather the Water Challenge at Earth Day April 19 By Sylvia Hampton April 1, 2009 (San Diego)--San Diego County’s biggest environmental challenge is WATER. We live in a desert but act like we live on a tropical island. Our supply is decreasing while our population is increasing. Climate Change is not helping. When we bought a new home in 1996, my husband and I were told we had to have a grass lawn or we would be in violation of the code of conduct for Scripps Ranch residents. Our neighbor across the street ignored that and put in a smart drought-resistant landscape. He got a letter or two in the beginning but ignored them, too. Smart man.

Last year, as the water crisis got worse, we finally bit the bullet and tore out all the grass and planted a smart yard. Our water bill went down almost 40%. Several other brave and defiant neighbors are doing the same thing. Suddenly we noticed there are fake lawns going in and sprinkler systems going out. I am growing wonderful succulent plants with weird names and they reproduce like the rabbits that used to eat our grass and then pee on it to kill it. According to the Earth Day Network Urban Environment Report, San Diego ranks 58th out of 72 cities in the category of “drinking and surface water” in their “vulnerable population index.” Northern California cities do better, but Los Angeles is the worst at 72nd. Fargo, North Dakota is number 7, but now has a different kind of water issue. Perhaps we need more water pipelines than oil pipelines. Water conservation will be a primary part of this year’s celebration of Earth Day on April 19 in Balboa Park. We have the largest free annual environmental fair in the world, produced by 400 volunteers and featuring more than 200 exhibits, a food pavilion, activities for kids, five entertainment sites, cookies from a solar oven, alternative fuel vehicle parade and much more. Check it out at and drink an H2O toast to Earth Day 2009. Sylvia Hampton is a community activist inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of fame for 2008 for her work in the fields of healthcare reform, social justice and reproductive health. She is the past president of the League of Women Voters of San Diego County and served on President Nixon’s Title X Family Planning Council. Her monthly Community Forum column is published in the Rancho Bernardo Sun, Diamond Gateway Signature, and her Soapbox in the East County Magazine. Opinions are Sylvia’s alone and not to be interpreted as the policies of the League of Women Voters or East County Magazine.

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HOA objects to alternatives to front yard lawns

Hello there!

Thank you for this wonderful piece of article. I hope we are in the begining stages of a transition to more drought resistant front yards.

I am a resident home owner in mira mesa and I am highly conflicted with the tropical island style lawns in the wake of water crisis in San Diego. I met with my HOA board to request them to consider an alternative for front yard lawn. They cited HOA rules and said they will not allow any other alternatives. I had to bring up the San Diego drought situation with them but they dismissed it saying there is no city ordinance or notice to the HOA on the drought situation.

It will be a tragedy if we come to a stage where we need City ordinances for this. That will just highlight the total disregard and irresponsible attitude of San Diego residents.

Is there any way I can stop the HOA from reporting me as in violation if I go ahead and replace the lawn without their permission? I would hate it if I have to install another water sucking lawn in San Diego.