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Sacramento Considers New Rules On Artificial Turf Lawns

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CBS 13) – For 32 years, the city of Sacramento has banned artificial turf and synthetic grass on residential front lawns. But last year, Gov. Jerry Brown gave the material the OK and now city leaders are trying to figure out how to make that law work for homeowners in Sacramento.

"I think this is the way to go if you want to save water," said Natomas homeowner Anand Kishore.

It's a dry alternative to a living lawn and it's worked for Anand Kishore since January.

"It looks nicer and all I use is my blower," Kishore said. "It stays green all the time and the neighborhood looks good."

But 32 years ago, the city of Sacramento banned artificial turf in residential front yards and side yards and required living vegetation instead. The city's main concern was whether or not fake turf would make local neighborhoods unappealing.

"I think it's great for the environment, as far as the drought goes," said Nola West. "As far as looks go, I mean, it's alright."

Tony Skelnik, General Manager at Artificial Grass Liquidators, said today's products are completely different from the ones made 30 years ago. Not only are the new materials environmentally friendly but they're preferred over grass by many homeowners in the area.

"It is more upfront cost, than installing new grass, but at the same time, you're not dealing with watering issues, maintenance of the material, you're just basically enjoying your project," he said.

In 2015, Governor Brown signed a law saying cities and local jurisdictions could not ban artificial turf. Now, Sacramento is looking to update city code to match.

The proposed amendment says artificial turf must meet three criteria:

  1. It must be permeable
  2. Have a minimum pile height of 1 and ¼ inches
  3. Cannot be installed in the dripline of a tree

Kishore told CBS13 he paid about $3,500 for his synthetic grass and even installed himself. Now, he hopes the city will give the okay for all homeowners to make the change.

"Some people are even asking me if I could put it in for them and I said 'no, I'm not!'" he said.

The cost of drought-tolerant landscaping could range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, depending on the material. But while the cost may be high upfront, in the long-run, homeowners could get more than 10 years out of the artificial material with little maintenance.

After a discussion in the Law and Legislation Committee on Tuesday, the ordinance will move on to the city council for a vote.

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