LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.COM) — Los Angeles homeowners and businesses who have received subsidies to replace their lawns with drought-resistant turf and plants could have their names, addresses and the size of their rebates made public, depending on the outcome of a hearing tomorrow in Los Angeles Superior Court that pits two major water agencies against one another.
After a San Diego newspaper recently asked for the rebate recipient information to be made public, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California was preparing to hand it over. But the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has filed a lawsuit to block the release of the information, claiming to be protecting the privacy considerations of its customers. A court hearing will be held tomorrow.
Thousands of residents and businesses have received hundreds of millions of dollars to replace grass lawns to save water. The LADWP said more than 6 million square feet of drought-resistant lawns have been installed in its program over the past two years. The MWD has offered homeowners $2 to install drought-resistant lawns, and the LADWP has offered an additional $1.75 for each square foot. Commercial customers have received slightly smaller rebates.
Suzanne Rich, who used the rebates to replace her lawn in the San Fernando Valley, said she found the rebates to be generous. But she was concerned to learn recently that her information could now be made public – something she wasn’t told when she applied.
“I prefer that my name and address not be released,” she told CBS2/KCAL9’s Dave Bryan reports. “I think it’s an issue of privacy.”
Rich’s contractor for the lawn replacement, Alex Salazar, said there are other elements of the rebate program, such as shoddy work from other contractors who are netting large profits, which he said deserve more scrutinty.
“We have noticed others that have engaged in questionable practices in landscaping,” he said.