ORANGE, Calif., March 3 (UPI) -- A California man pleaded not guilty to charges of violating an Orange city law by removing his front yard to save water.
The charges against Quan Ha, 36, who could face a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail for the misdemeanor charge, allege a violation of Orange city law by keeping less than 40 percent of his yard landscaped, The Orange County Register reported Wednesday.
Ha said he and his wife, Angelina, removed the lawn in 2008 to take their monthly water bill down from $180 every two months to $48 every two months. He said they put down wood chips and started installing drought-resistant plants after city officials warned them about the code, but officials said wood chips do not qualify as landscaping and took Ha to court.
A pre-trial hearing was set for March 16.
Assistant City Attorney Wayne Winthers said he has seen pictures of the current state of the yard, which has received several plant donations since Ha's story first appeared in the Register, and Code Enforcement officers will make a fresh visit to the property.
"We'll have to see," Winthers said. "My hope is that it's enough and we can resolve this."