CALIFORNIA – Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 676, October 8, that allows local municipalities to ban residents from installing fake grass as drought-tolerant landscape – it has to be real plants.
Critics cite health risks from chemicals found in fake grass a cause for worry.
Water conservation a statewide concern
In 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that said local municipalities could prohibit residents from installing drought-tolerant landscaping, including synthetic grass and artificial turf.
At the time, some lawmakers said that artificial turf was a drought-conscious alternative to grass lawns.
However, the new law states that the prolonged drought, along with climate change, requires the state to address water conservation goals that will have long-term impacts in the state.
“Therefore, allowing property owners in this state to install drought-tolerant landscaping on their residential properties is a matter of statewide concern and is not a municipal affair,” reads the bill.
Forever chemicals in fake grass
Critics have raised health concerns over toxic chemicals in fake grass – PFAS.
According to the European Environment Agency PFAS are known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they are extremely persistent in the environment and bodies.
“They can lead to health problems such as liver damage, thyroid disease, obesity, fertility issues and cancer,” said the European Environment Agency website.
Alternatives to fake grass
UC Extension in Los Angeles County Horticulture Expert said the best alternative to any artificial surfaces are living plants.
“We want to increase the population of our habitat pollinators, and plant climate-resilient plants that provide shade, buffer sun exposure, provide windbreaks, help reduce stormwater runoff and reduce soil and water erosion. And you can’t do that with synthetic grass,” said Hartin to CalMatters.
Drought-tolerant landscaping includes Bermuda grass and Buffalo grass, or planting drought-tolerant plants native to California.
To read the full bill visit https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=202320240SB676