Posted on | March 30, 2010 | 3 Comments
Las Vegas topped the regional cash-for-grass payout rate with $2 per square foot (now down to $1.50) until the City of Long Beach today announced that it will be offering $2.50 per square foot up to $2,500 for qualifying homeowners.
The calculus behind this sort of bribery is that it is cheaper for a Western water authority to pay homeowners to remove turf and replace it with a drought tolerant garden rather than for the city to vie with competitors for ever more water from an ever shrinking common pool.
Beyond the decision to increase the bounty on turf, what sets Long Beach’s program apart from, say, the cash-for-grass scheme launched by the City of Los Angeles last June is an enviable combination of conviction and competence.
While the City of Los Angeles sat on its hands during 2006-07, the driest rain year in Southern California history, Long Beach voted in strict watering ordinances. When in 2008-09, Los Angeles finally followed suit with watering ordinances and offered a cash-for-grass program of $1 per square foot, the incentive got lost in a Metropolitan Water District-sponsored phone system whose automated voice mail greeted visitors with news that all rebates had been canceled. Only those who hung on after being told to go away were eventually put through to an operator from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Meanwhile, Long Beach had moved on to sponsoring yard makeovers in each of its districts.
This year, the Long Beach program has expanded to a cash-for-grass program timed to coincide with local events designed to teach residents about replacement landscapes. These include the Long Beach City College plant sale on March 31-April 3 and the Theodore Payne Foundation Tour on April 10-11. For a look at some of the gardens on the tour, including two in Long Beach, click here (and groove on the fact that one is an apartment complex).
For a full listing of dry garden events around Southern California, click here.
This all begs the question as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power fishes around for a new general manager, why can’t we have someone from Long Beach?