June 18, 2009
Striking at the conformity of domestic requirements …
“Conformity” is a failing of land use that I often attempt to skewer. But as the United States becomes more diverse in myriad ways, and the benefits of diversity become more widely know, governments are slowly breaking down some of the barriers of conformity in land use law.
The Florida legislature recently passed a bill that would allow home owners to trump any homeowners’ association rules or local ordinances that otherwise would require nicely watered grass lawns, if the homeowner has a “Florida-friendly landscape” of plants and soils that tolerate heat and drought. Under the current law, only rules and laws adopted since 2001 can be trumped. The bill would also clarify that citizens may abide by drought emergency rules without being penalized (lawfully) by their HOA. After years of drought and continual pressure on fresh-water supplies in a growing state surrounded on most sides by salt water, many environmentalists suggest that domestic water conservation is one of the important land use steps that Florida needs to take.
Slowly, the ideas of conformity – such as the idea that house property in a hot, sandy state such a Florida has to include stereotypical northeastern grass lawns simply because this is what most people have thought it SHOULD look like – are losing their grip. Good thing …
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A similar issue has come up here in Williamsburg Virginia where a homeowner chose to install artificial turf instead of grass on his front lawn. See the article in the Virginia Gazette here: http://tinyurl.com/noyk8u
His HOA gave him permission to install the turf, but if you read the article, other HOAs are not likely to be as accommodating. While I can understand not wanting to see the 1970s-style Astroturf in your neighborhood, the newer artificial turfs appear to look just like grass (of course, this super-green look might be a bit strange in the winter).
As is probably the case everywhere, the use of drinking water for lawn irrigation is quite a problem in this area. There are many HOA-controlled communities, each with large houses surrounded by equally large lawns filled with lush, green grass. The vast majority of this area's drinking water comes from wells, which are in danger of depletion. Despite high water fees and penalties for large users, people still continue to pour good water on bad lawns.
I was thinking that grey water would be the most likely solution in the future, but perhaps it's simply plastic grass?
Posted by: AdamKinsman | Jun 18, 2009 11:52:46 AM