Going green isn’t always a straightforward task if you’re subject to aesthetic-driven codes enforced by homeowners associations and other entities. Just ask defiant homeowners who have paid the price — with fines, complaints, and nasty glances from disapproving neighbors — by installing solar panels or line-drying clothing.

Meet brazen eco-martyrs Quan and Angelina Ha, a couple in the city of Orange in Orange County, California, who have gotten themselves into a bit of hot water. Quan and Angelina haven’t installed a massive photovoltaic array on their roof nor have they hung their dirty laundry for all to see. And no, they don’t keep an unruly brood of chickens out back and they aren't in the habit of sorting their neighbors’ recyclables at 2 a.m. Instead, the couple, in an effort to conserve water and save cash that they’d otherwise be spending on a manicured lawn, decided to replace their conventional grass lawn with a drought-tolerant garden filled with lavender, rosemary and native wildflower seeds.

This is a totally sensible move, right, especially considering that Southern California is going through a serious drought and many areas have enacted water-conserving ordinances? Not according to the city of Orange, which is taking Quan and Angelina to court on March 2. The couple could face a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for their grass-free, eco-friendly landscaping scheme.

The Ha family has been in a legal dispute with Orange for more than a year because of their lack o’ lawn. According to the city, 40 percent of residential lawns must be traditionally landscaped which, as you can see in the video below, the Ha lawn isn’t. I’ll admit, their yard isn’t the most attractive thing to look at (it’s currently covered in wood chips) but it’s not an unkempt eyesore, and Quan and Angelina themselves don’t appear to be complete whackos … just a nice, young couple with a child who want to do right by Mother Nature and conserve water in perpetually drought-stricken Southern California.

Personally, I’m disgusted that the Ha family even have to deal with the possibility of fines and jail time. If a drought didn’t play into this and the lawn was just covered with dirt and debris it would be one thing, but c’mon, Orange — why not spend more time persecuting water wasters, not water conservers … or, at the very least, folks who insist on displaying ceramic frogs and gazing balls in their front yards.

Via [Los Angeles Times] via [KTLA]

Screenshots: KTLA

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Orange County's law-breaking landscapers
An Orange County, Calif. couple face steep fines — and possibly jail time — for replacing a conventional grass lawn with drought-tolerant landscaping.