Sacramento may allow Artificial Turf in Front Yards August 18 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) —In a city full of brown and dying front lawns, a new alternative could soon emerge -- green lawns, though fake, are up for consideration by Sacramento leaders.

At a meeting Thursday, members of the city's planning and design commission are expected to vote on whether or not to allow artificial turf in front yards.

According to the current ordinance, when it comes to front yard landscaping, "Only living vegetation may be used as a primary ground cover; no cement, brick, artificial turf, or other non-vegetative products ... may be used for this purpose."

The new ordinance would allow turf as long as it meets a 1.25 inch minimum height requirement.

The change was first suggested by councilman Jeff Harris who sees the potential upside.

"It's not going to solve the drought's problems, but there are areas where it can be aesthetically pleasing, save water, save the air from the exhaust from lawn mowers," Harris said.

In a memo to the planning and design commission, city staff recommend the changes get approved and passed along to the City Council for a vote. The memo cites the ongoing drought and Sacramento's need to reduce water use by 28 percent, the amount mandated by the state.

At Artificial Grass Liquidators in Rancho Cordova, general manager Tony Skelnik held a piece of turf nearly indistinguishable from grass. The height is the same, as are the colors and texture.

"It's just as comfortable and looks and feels and acts like the same thing," Skelnik said. "They're keeping cooler, they're bi-color blades with hollow stems in them, dual-color thatch and things of that nature. The technology has really brought it into the future."

He acknowledged a change in the ordinance would be good for business, but notes it'd help conserve water too.

"Obviously we're saving a lot of water," Skelnik said. "You're looking at about 8 gallons a month per square foot."

Sacramento city officials have looked into what other nearby cities allow turf, and found they're alone in their explicit ban.

Citrus Heights, Rancho Cordova, Roseville and unincorporated Sacramento County all allow artificial turf. Elk Grove allows it as long as it adequately drains water runoff. Rocklin and West Sacramento have no specific ban on artificial turf in their city codes.