File this under: Your city government, not helping. (But with a nice ending.)

Here's the story, as reported by the Giga Granada Hills blog. Several years ago the Department of Water and Power enacted an incentive program to get residents and businesses to rip out their lawns and put in drought-resistant plants. One Granada Hills resident was instead rewarded with a notice that he was in violation of city code.

Granada Hills resident Kris Schmidt had already put in the drought-resistant plants — two types of sage and a few other local plants — when the program was enacted.

When he called about his recent notice of violation, they told him he had have to “remove the vegetation from your parkway, and remove it to ground level, and the only permissible things in there are sand, gravel, grass, and with a special permit, you can put stepping stones. Trees are okay, but bushes are not.” (The parkway is the area between the sidewalk and the street.) If he didn't respond to the directive, he could have faced a fine.

Someone at the city told him “if somebody had to jump out of the street in an emergency, the bushes would be in the way.”

In this imagined action-movie scenario wherein Matt Damon is avoiding a speeding, murderous car and must jump out of the street, why can't we presume that the bush would help break his fall, while also offering a nice comedic touch?

Schmidt suspects a neighbor had complained about some tree branches he'd trimmed and left on his lawn for a few days before having them removed, and that the city worker came around and felt like he had to write him up on something.

To get an engineering permit to landscape the parkway with anything other than grass requires an engineering permit, which costs $539 — that's roughly nine expired meter parking tickets for those keeping score of the city's maddening fine-and-fee-as-tax policy.

The story ends well, however. Schmidt called Councilman Greig Smith, who got the fine suspended indefinitely. Smith introduced a motion in 2009 to prevent the city from obstructing residents' attempts to conserve water.

Mitch Englander, chief of staff to Smith, told the Weekly Smith's office had successfully encouraged the city to waive the engineering permit fee on a case-by-case basis and was continuing to work to get a permanent policy change.

It hasn't been adopted, but in the meantime, perhaps city workers can use some common sense and maybe focus on stuff that, you know, matters.

We have a call in with Street Services to learn more.

LA Weekly