According to the U.S. drought monitor nearly 94% of California is experiencing severe drought conditions, including Pasadena. Over 37 million Californians now reside within drought areas. And we are backpedaling as Southern California increased water usage by more than 25% for the month of April.
By Wesley Reutimann
Pasadena’s Water and Power (PWP) department is promoting a range of rebates to help Pasadena residents save more water, from water efficient washing machines and toilets to laundry-to-landscape greywater systems. A pillar of PWP’s effort to build drought resilience is reduci at landscaping, which accounts for roughly 60% of residential water use in the City. In addition to installing more water efficient irrigation, PWP encourages both residential and commercial customers to replace their landscaping with native plants that require less water, are better prepared for a hotter future, and support biodiversity by creating habitat for local birds, butterflies, and other creatures that also call California home.
City Hall Remains Landscaped With Non-Native Plants
For the most part the City is transitioning to native landscaping at its own facilities, including branch libraries, community centers, and even neighborhood fire stations.
Yet the highest-profile public facility in Pasadena – City Hall – has remained landscaped with water-intensive turf and other non-native plants. The public face of City Hall is framed by ornamental grass, shrubs, and magnolia trees at home in the wetter southeastern United States. Only the interior courtyard of the building features any landscaping recommended by PWP, namely several Coast Live Oak trees native to California.
Why the cognitive dissonance?
If water conservation is a serious, immediate priority for the City, shouldn’t our most iconic space be a calling card for beautiful, water-wise native gardening? Why hasn’t the City availed itself of its own $2 per square foot rebate for replacing turf? The program is available to both commercial and residential customers, and can be used for drought-tolerant, native plants, more efficient drip irrigation systems, and rainwater capture.
Adopting these practices at Pasadena City Hall in 2022 would send a powerful message to the entire community that we must all do more to prepare for a drier future, and we don’t have to sacrifice much in the process. A City Hall surrounded by native plants and trees would serve as a model for
- a greener, more sustainable and vibrant Pasadena.
- a refuge for local hummingbirds, butterflies, and other endangered avian species – and those who love to watch them.
- an educational space for those who visit City Hall to take photos of graduates, newlyweds, and loved ones. And perhaps most importantly,
- a symbol of the City’s commitment to leading by example on water conservation.
We need colorful, drought-tolerant palette to complement our civic center’s iconic architecture
The City could invite the most water-wise, biodiversity-savvy, landscape designers in the community to submit concepts for a more colorful, drought-tolerant palette to complement our civic center’s iconic architecture. The public could be invited to weigh in on the submitted designs. Free workshops could be hosted in tandem with the transformation to further spread public understanding of native gardening techniques. And at the ribbon cutting, Pasadena Water and Power staff could even present City leaders with a few of those “We Are Saving Water” yard signs to install in front.
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