Desperate times call for desperate measures. Or at least that’s what your government is telling you.
Citing perennial drought conditions in Los Angeles, this week the L.A. Department of Water and Power (DWP) is touting the success of a program called “Cash for Grass” – which frankly sounds like a place you should turn in your unused medical marijuana. But L.A.’s cheekily-named program is actually a water conservation plan that is costing big bucks – and the only ones getting soaked in this scenario are the ratepayers.
The Los Angeles utility has shelled out more than $1 million in incentives for a program aimed at curbing water usage, but at up to $2,500 per lawn it appears to be little more than a glorified lawn makeover service at the public ratepayers’ expense. Cue the new TV series, “HGTV: Kicking Taxpayers to the Curb” edition.
The L.A. area’s “Cash for Grass” program, which has been in place since 2009 but recently upped its ante with increased financial incentives, provides cash to residents who will rip out their grass lawns in exchange for desert landscapes.
The fact that the Pacific Ocean – the world’s largest and deepest ocean – sits right next to this great city is an irony that is not lost on me. Neither is the fact that this program comes with the same tiresome and unproven claims of “global climate change” and a whole host of other problems that have long plagued L.A.’s Department of Water and Power.
For example, the agency’s Board admitted in 2010 that they were struggling with a whopping $200 million in pension liabilities for DWP employees amid budget shortfalls. While newly-elected L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti recently helped negotiate a new contract with DWP in which public employees forgo raises for three years, those same employees get to keep their pensions and new hires still get an unbelievable 80% of their salary annually as a pension for life. Some deal.
Yet these financial problems haven’t kept the agency from spending $1 million in hard-earned cash, not for upgrades or improvements on much-needed water infrastructure, but instead for this program – a program for which residents are required to provide very little proof in exchange for cold, hard cash.
Residents looking to cash in must simply log on to a government website (let’s hope it works better this week than another government website we know, ahem) in order to receive the rebate to renovate their lawn into water-conservation-friendly landscaping. The only “proof” required for the rebate, other than your property address and some vital information, is simply 4-5 photographs of one’s lawn which show the “before” and “after” scenarios.
For those who don’t participate in the program? Expect to get hosed.
The Department of Water and Power has raised water rates 11% in just 2 years. So, the implied message is: participate in our new “green” program, or you’ll pay. Environmental terrorism at its finest.
If you are a hardworking Angeleno, just remember this the next time you are sitting in traffic, heading to your job, where you pay for your own retirement program and work long hours to make ends meet in order to pay your mortgage and your water bill. Meanwhile your neighbors are down at the Home Depot picking out their new California drought-friendly plants, on your dime. The “Cash for Grass” program is proof that for public utility customers in L.A., the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side of that fence. In fact, there may be no grass at all left by the time the DWP is done with this city.
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Jennifer Kerns is a Taxpayer Advocate & Republican Communications Strategist.