City staff says residents have asked to add artificial grass. It could be a cost-cutter, sparing residents from watering and yard maintenance bills, according to a recent staff report.
But it could also bring hotter local temperatures and untested chemicals into Mission Viejo neighborhoods, the report warns.
City law is ambiguous on the question, Community Development Director Chuck Wilson said. He said city staff have OKed fake grass for back and side yards, but not as replacement front lawns.
"In order to preserve a natural vegetative look as seen from the public right of way, artificial turf has not been allowed in the front yards," he said.
In early June, the Planning Commission voted 4-1 recommending the city allow artificial front lawns.
Here are some pluses and minuses of fake grass, as quoted from Wilson's report:
- conserves water and reduces cost of watering; this can also be achieved by using native drought tolerant plants
- saves money on maintenance of landscaping
- eliminates need for chemicals/fertilizers/insecticides
- reduced emissions from lawnmower use
- reduced grass clippings deposited in landfills
- reduce natural vegetation. Consider using native drought tolerant plants instead of artificial grass.
- localized heat island effect
- crumb rubber debris which possesses carcinogens, harsh chemical compounds and heavy metals such as zinc and lead which could leach particles into the air or wash into the water
- the nylon/polyethylene fibers could have low levels of lead
- burning hazard to exposed skin due to it heating on hot days
- not enough long term research on the effects of the chemicals in the synthetic grass; possible respiratory effects from breakdown of the synthetic grass fibers and crumb rubber into dust particles
- skin lesions (turf burns) from sliding on it
- bacteria build up if not cleaned