County Supervisor Dave Roberts of Solana Beach believes in turf talk


To set an example during the statewide drought, San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts has replaced his lawn with artificial turf.

“We’re in a drought, and I think everybody should do their part,” said Roberts, who sits on the board of the San Diego County Water Authority. “This was our next step in reducing our water usage.”

Roberts and his partner, Wally Oliver, kicked off the five-day project Sept. 15 when workers began tearing up the 6,000-square-foot lawn at their Solana Beach home and replacing it with artificial turf.

Because artificial turf reduces water use by about 44 gallons per square foot, Roberts and Oliver expect to save about 264,000 gallons of water each year.

The couple used government financing and rebate programs to fund the $45,000 project and expect a return on their investment in less than nine years.

Roberts and Oliver will recover some of their costs through a rebate program from the Metropolitan Water District. They are eligible to receive about $2 per square foot of grass that is replaced.

The remaining $33,000 is being financed through an assessment on their property tax bill under the Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, program.

PACE is administered in California through the Home Energy Renovation Opportunity, or HERO, program ( Property owners must live in a city that participates in the HERO program, which Solana Beach adopted late 2013.

“We’re trying to show that this is something people can easily do,” Roberts said. “You don’t have to have the money. As long as you can qualify for the program, you can get the money.”

Turf Evolutions was hired to install the artificial turf, which is guaranteed to last 25 years. With the drought and available rebates, the Orange County-based company has seen an increase in business, said owner Shannon Beck.

“We’ve never been busier,” said Beck, who noted the company has about 14 projects per day. “We’re up about 85 percent over the last year.”

Many of Roberts’ neighbors have already replaced their grass with artificial turf or drought-tolerant plants.

About five years ago, Solana Beach residents Roger and Mary Jane Boyd replaced the grass in their roughly 1,500-square-foot front yard with native and drought-tolerant plants. The project cost about $1,000, but Roger designed the landscape plans and handled most of the labor.

Now, the Boyds — who have lived in Solana Beach for more than 30 years — are hoping to take advantage of the water district’s rebates to replace the grass in their 2,000-square-foot back yard. The couple are still deciding on whether to install artificial turf or drought-tolerant plants.

“It’s the right thing to do for our future,” said Boyd, who has four children and nine grandchildren. “I’m a believer, and I work hard to try to convince other people to pay attention to our responsibility.”