Residents in Glendale, Calif., may have just been trying to get it right when they installed astroturf on their lawns. The southern California community butts up against Pasadena and Burbank, a thirsty part of the world, so a waterless lawn that stays green all year has been an attractive option for many residents.
The ban comes over concerns about potential environmental hazards, such as lead leaching out of the plastic and into the ground. Astroturf can also contribute to heat island effect. In cities where building and paving has already reduced many natural cooling systems, heat island effect can increase energy demand, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions as well as heat-related illness and mortality, warns the Environmental Protection Agency. Combating the problem by covering heat-producing surfaces with native grasses can earn builders a LEED credit.
Geneva Dotson, a Glendale resident who had to tear up her front lawn, told the Glendale News-Press she was “blind-sided” by the edict, but didn’t think it was worth the hassle to fight it. So far the city has issued six notices, and warns the matter could be handed over to the city attorney for criminal prosecution if residents fail to comply.