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Laguna Lifts City Ban On New Pool Constructions In City

LAGUNA ( — A Laguna Beach ban on all new pool construction due to the drought was lifted in a City Council meeting Tuesday.

The July 14th moratorium on new pool construction, written to put a stop to the building of new pools, was an effort to compensate for the historic drought.

"I was stunned," resident Janice Hobbs said. "I couldn't believe that they would take such a hard stance against pool applications, getting a permit to build a pool, filling your pool."

Laguna Beach was one of two cities in California to prohibit new pools. The decision not to renew the ban was made at Tuesday's meeting.

While some residents voiced relief over the ban, others say they are disappointed in the decision.

"I would love to see us being a precedent-setting city," one resident said.

The council will now also consider other bans, such as putting a stop to decorative water features, such as fountains.

City Manager John Pietig says the council will also consider mandating pool and spa covers, reducing water usage through evaporation by 70 percent.

"When we have our building inspectors and other city staff visit sites, if people have a pool or spa and are not using a cover, they would report that to us and the property owners would be sent a letter," Pietig said. "Alternatively, we may also receive complaints."

Hobbs, meanwhile, argues that the types of restrictions under discussion would only foster neighbors ratting-out neighbors.

"I wonder how you determine when it's in use," Hobbs said. "If I just got out of the pool and I'm drying off, and my neighbor looks over my fence and calls the city, have I violated the ordinance?"

Hobbs went on to suggest that the pool ban was more of a target on lifestyle than a water conservation effort.

"Pools use less than one-one-hundredth of a percent of the water used in Laguna Beach. So to take one activity and decide that we're going to make a stance on this is discriminatory."

An LA Times study suggests traditional laws use over 116,000 gallons of water, while a pool uses just over 96,000 gallons. With a pool cover, that number is said to shrink to 65,000 gallons.

"It's shown to be less in studies with a pool versus a lawn area," landscape architect Brian Menne said. "We're taking out a lawn and we'd like to put in a pool, a smaller pool than the lawn area we're taking out, and we have a net less (usage) of water, and we just understand a moratorium where we're trying to save water."

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