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Big issues at play in Menlo Park debate over new restrictions on lawn sizes and watering

Original post made on Jan 1, 2010

Debate in Menlo Park over a revised water-efficient landscaping ordinance has centered around questions of environmental responsibility and private property rights. The proposal on the table would prevent people from running their sprinklers during the day. It would also limit lawn size to 500 square feet, or 25 percent of the total landscaped area for properties with over 2,000 square feet of landscaping. The new rules would apply only to properties that undergo a substantial renovation or landscaping overhaul. The City Council is scheduled to take up a draft ordinance at its next meeting, Jan. 12.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, December 30, 2009, 1:59 PM

Comments (25)

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Posted by Outraged
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 1, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Indeed we have a "water problem" in California. Stop granting approval to all of the new housing, stop cramming more and more people into a finite space, and we'll have plenty of resources to go around for everyone.
We bought our house because our kids could break into a full sprint on the grass-covered back yard. And our property taxes reflect that decision - they're eating us alive. I am willing and eager to run my Energy Star compliant washing machine and dishwasher on "speed cycle", but don't tell me how much grass I can or cannot grow on my own property!


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Posted by Satire
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 2, 2010 at 8:32 am

Here's what's on the agenda:

1. Cut your lawn allocation to 500'. The Central Committee's "five year plan" calls for everyone to have less lawn. It's not your place to question why, Comrade.

2. Install sprinklers in your house. Comrade, the State wishes to spend $13 million per life saved on these systems and you will have to bear the burden. It is for the better of everyone.

By the way, what is the connection between California's water scarcity and global warming? "But we also have to balance that with the fact that our glaciers are melting, and our snow pack is melting, potentially at a very alarming rate," Mr. Robinson said.

Is global warming the excuse tendered for everything the left wants these days? Is cutting the lawn allocation back to 500' in Menlo Park going to save the polar bears? Do we need to water so that it can be used in the fire sprinklers??

Is it possible that the same conservationists who arrogantly claim humans are responsible for climate change are the same people who prevent the building of new water reservoirs? They can't even agree among themselves about where to build their solar panel farms in the desert. Why do we put our fate in their hands?

The Soviets appear to have won the Cold War after all. It took a couple of decades, but all of the Socialists appear to have taken roost in California city governments.


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 2, 2010 at 10:07 am

So does this mean that the restriction is the same even if native bunch grass (that does not require extra water) were planted? Or would that allow more than 500 SF of turf? Or, could one keep the turf but have everything else very drought tolerant?

Why aren't there restrictions to be placed on neighbors with swimming pools without covers? Doesn't their energy use to heat their pool, and the evaporation matter?

Why can't we just restrict the amount of water and let residents make their own tradeoff of what they want to limit?
Like it or not, many of us would also limit the amount and size of additional development because both McMansions and much greater density of both residential and commercial buildings eat into the finite supply of water, too.

Let's use common sense!


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Posted by James
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 2, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Our "competent" city council hard at work yet again. Remember that this is an election year, folks.


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Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 2, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Water is a resource like any other. We are fortunate that enormous amounts of it fall on us every year for free. Set the market clearing price of water at whatever price encourages conservation sufficient to match our use with the water we have. Stop subsidizing farmers with artificially cheap water. Case closed.

There is absolutely no need for nincompoop meddlers in the town council or, worse, Sacramento, to micromanage water use.


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Posted by Satire
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 3, 2010 at 6:41 am

What? Use the market system to regulate water use? Heresy!

Don't you understand that some people in Menlo Park are too wealthy to be influenced by any sort of financial incentive? Those who have will keep their lawns; those who have not will be left without.

We can't have that sort of inequity. It will lead to class struggle.

Let the Central Committee do its job, Comrade. The MP City Council knows what is best for everyone.

The residents of Menlo Park have to tighten their belt to help reverse and prevent further climate change. Patience. A five year plan will be forthcoming which will require some sacrifice by all for the betterment of everyone.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 3, 2010 at 9:13 am

What did the council vote on this? Was there a vote?


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Posted by Sean Howell
Almanac staff writer
on Jan 4, 2010 at 10:59 am

Sean Howell is a registered user.

There wasn't a vote, though it was discussed at an earlier meeting. The public hearing is tentatively scheduled to begin Jan. 12.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 4, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Thank you, Mr. Howell.

So James and Mr. Davis and Satire are you just opportunistic in your finger wagging? You slam the council as incompetent, but for what? Discussing the matter?


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Posted by role of commissions?
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 4, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Did any of the Commissions, such as the one charged with Environmental Quality, have any review or input to the staff report or Council discussion? If not, why not?


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 4, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Great call on the commissions. I hope so.


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Posted by you're kidding
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 5, 2010 at 11:44 am

what is the new state law referred to in "go into effect in January to comply with a new state law" in the last sentence of the Almanac article?


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Posted by Jordi Argente
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 5, 2010 at 12:40 pm

The city should stay out of people's personal lifes and focus on infranstructure issues such as the lack of lighting in the streets (accidents waiting to happen for pedestrians/runners and their pets, especially during winter's short days) and the unsightly web of utilities cabling still hanging from poles (right in 2010) as opposed to buried in the ground as most modern communities (nations) have...

Managing one's environmental conciousness and activities is a personal choice and the city has no business in getting into the resident's personal lives. What is next? ...is the city going to regulate how many times one flushes the toilet? the fact the city is even discussing this is totally ridiculous!

Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure and public/community services: that is what the city should be focusing on, not managing people's lifes.


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Posted by Ol' Homeboy
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 5, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Here's a few more ideas the council should chew on.
Let's cut down all the water-suckin' heritage trees in Menlo Park. Heck, that'll not only save the glaciers and polar bears, but it'll raise hell with them pesky squirrels and roof rats that are taking over this peaceful hamlet. And while were at it, let's make all them rich folks with water-hoggin', swimmin' pools fill 'em in. Oh yeah... and no more Ducky Car Wash either. Peets & Starbucks, pack your bags 'cuz there's too much agua going into your product. Etc. etc.
If any of our council people really understood from where Northern California's water shortages stem, they would actively petition the State from allowing water to be shipped to So. Cal and prevent our Rice Farmers from using valuable water to flood fields (after harvest) to break down the stubble (which use to be burned, until the air quality folks decided that wasn't kosher. Please do your homework before wasting valuable council meeting time.
Geez, I long for the good ol' days. Think the family will have a nice chat around the fire tonight. Oh wait, it's a no burn night! #!@*#


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Posted by Limited Govt. Advocate
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 5, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Yes, here we go again, with meddling by Menlo Park City government in another area where government has no business intruding. Is there anything beyond the reach of our omnipresent civic leaders? The argument that lawn size limits are required because of global warming concerns is a real hoot. The connection between water usage in a garden and melting polar ice caps (if indeed they are - last time I checked the Antarctic ice was GROWING) is difficult for anyone to fathom. I propose we limit the hot air produced by the City Council!


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Jan 5, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Global warming, melting ice caps, transparency--buzz words right out of the "How to get Elected to Higher Office in a Liberal Environment" handbook (Kelly's and Heyard's favorite book). Don't worry Menlo Park; once each of them gets a shot at a county seat, the rest of us will insure they understand this nonsense doesn't play outside of Menlo Park and we'll be rid of them. Meanwhile, sorry about losing your lawns, but at least you'll be able to fill your new fire sprinkler pipes with the water you save.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 5, 2010 at 2:54 pm

WhoRU following in line with the bitter Repub name calling. Great value add.

Transparency is the underpinning of the 1st Amendment, although they don't teach that in the NRA do they?

And if you are another one of those old, tired Goldwater activitists who think fiscal responsiblity falls on the right, I give you 2000-2008 and the stinkhole of a deficit my generation is left.

Let us not forget that the old righties are sucking away my social security and then turn around and bash anyone trying to hold on to their retirement pensions.

And, of course, the obvious wink-nod race war going on with your crazy tea-party freaks and the religious potion sellers.

Talk about "How to get elected as a right winger"...get white and get angry and get votes.

Pathetic.




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Posted by HA HA
a resident of another community
on Jan 5, 2010 at 3:08 pm

I assume that this law will be retroactively applied to city council members


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Posted by Sean Howell
Almanac staff writer
on Jan 5, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Sean Howell is a registered user.

"you're kidding" -- The new state law would be AB 1881. Here's a link to the state's page on it:

Web Link


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Posted by you're kidding
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 5, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Thank you, Sean.


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Posted by Irony, Oh Sweet Irony!
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 6, 2010 at 10:34 am

Jordi:
"Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure and public/community services: that is what the city should be focusing on, not managing people's lifes."

Ah, Jordi, I hate to tell you this, but water is both an infrastructure and public/community service issue.

I take it you also support keeping the government hands off your Medicare program as well?


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Posted by Jordi Argente
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 6, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Hi "Irony, Oh Sweet Irony", yes, I do support the government keep hands off the Medicare I pay for and don't get to use... a private organization/s would be much more effective at managing it, in my view.

You miss the point on the water USE issue, "the city" is there to provide services to its citizens (lighting, police, water even...), the city does not exist to control the life style of its law abiding citizens; cities in other countries do that, but the Constitutuion of the US prevents it here... citizens are supposed to be free in this country!


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Posted by Irony, Oh Sweet Irony!
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 6, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Jordi:
It is a PUBLIC water supply, not a private water supply. If you want/need your oversized lawn, then drill a well on your property for the water to feed it!

And as for your health care views, why don't you try asking your private health insurer for a refund on the benefits you don't use? (good luck with that one!)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ima Genious
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 6, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Yeah, and we totally should have privatized Social Security, too! Just invest in the stock market and you can't go wrong.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dude
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 13, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I'm outraged by these incompetent nincompoops.


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