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Turf war over fake lawn in Newport Beach

January 23, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Usually when a homeowner makes improvements to his property, his neighbors wish him well -- but not in one Newport Beach neighborhood. It seems the Newport Hills Community Association doesn't like what some residents did, or how they went about it. It's turned into quite a turf war.Albert Presnell looks out his window and admires the lawn in front of his Newport Beach home.

"It's maintenance free," said Presnell. "I like the looks of it, too."

Rich green in color, it never needs water. At 85-years-old, Presnell found it tiresome to maintain real grass, so he paid more than $13,000 to install artificial turf.

But then the Home Owners Association contacted him.

"They didn't approve of it," said Presnell. "You're supposed to get approval on anything you do to your property, and I didn't realize that, and I didn't get it."

Next door, Connie Hollstein was also surprised to hear from the Newport Hills Community Association. She too put in synthetic grass last summer.

"The state, the water companies, the city -- everyone is telling us to put in artificial sod to save on water," said Hollstein.

Water officials say a homeowner can save about 20,000 gallons of water a year with artificial grass.

The neighbors say the association is threatening fines and legal action if they don't rip out the turf and replace it with real grass.

"They think it detracts from the area," said Presnell.

The Homeowners Association would not go on camera. In a statement, it said "Out of respect for the privacy of the homeowners involved, the association will not comment at this time."

"Do we want to fight it? We've been told we probably won't win, and they've said they'll take us all the way," said Hollstein.

Presnell says he plans to fight it, hoping to keep the lawn that he believes will always look better than the real thing.


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