Ugly Lawn? That Could Mean a Possible Fine in Galt

GALT -- The City of Galt has stepped up its effort to make sure front yard landscaping is up to code, meaning watering yards now that there is no longer a drought crisis.

Galt resident Ginger Hand and her dogs appreciate the yard that she and her husband created.

"We try to make it look nice and I think it’s good," Hand said.

The same can’t be said of some of her neighbors, who don’t water their lawns or maintain them.

Last year the city council became concerned when the record rain season concluded. Even though the drought emergency was declared over, some never got back to watering and complaints started coming in.

"The number of brown lawns in the city and how it was starting to really make neighborhoods look bad," said Chris Erias, the director of Galt Community Development.

There’s nothing quite like putting in the money and effort into maintaining your yard while a neighbor neglects his.

"It definitely looks better if everybody’s yards are kept up and nice," Hand said.

This spring the city is starting an education program to make sure homeowners know when and how to water their yards. Just as big a concern is mowing and cleaning up overgrown yards that sprouted with weeds, as well as grass during the early spring.

While citations will be issued for yard violations, the city says it’s more about compliance than punishment. But that may be the end result for those who ignore initial warnings and education efforts.

"Now the city does have strict watering days, so they do need to adhere to that," Erias said. "But the city does have code requirements for maintaining the front yard."

Some residents are avoiding the watering dilemma by going to drought-resistant landscaping. Others will be given only so much time to comply before penalties are ratcheted up to as much as $500, depending on how many deadlines for compliance are ignored.

Since January, 70 citations were issued, but almost all those violators are now under compliance.

Galt officials say homeowners should be able to maintain presentable yards by using established watering guidelines.