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In parched California, Beverly Hills may go greener by going brown

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With its lush shrubs and manicured lawns, posh Beverly Hills is being shoved somewhere it’s never been — pinched by deepening drought, mandatory cuts and now potential fines. Even its mega-rich have had to shut the spigot, under fire for over-watering.

“The lady of the house now has come to terms. She is going to let the garden die,” Mexican-born long-time gardener Gilberto, who declined to give his family name, told AFP, outside an elegant two-story home of an octogenarian surrounded by a wall of shrubbery.

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“She says that the important thing now is to cut back. Because this has become reallly serious,” he added, adjusting his big straw hat to keep the scorching sun out of his eyes.

California is now in its worst drought since records began, now in its fourth year. Reservoirs are nearing empty, agriculture has been hard hit.

For the inhabitants of this enclave of extreme wealth, a water shortage usually has meant they simply paid more for the water they used — which might be more, instead of less.

But in the crisis — in this state which has a climate ranging from Mediterranean to desert — has turned so harsh that Governor Jerry Brown has ordered 25-percent cuts in water use to try to put a dent in the crisis.

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– Cutting back –

On average wealthier neighborhoods like Beverly Hills consume three times more water than less affluent ones, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

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“With income and water use so tightly bound together, further incentive must be given to higher water users — and thus higher-income customers — to conserve more,” the study said.

Brown’s 25 percent reductions would be achieved by ramping up enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, while investing in technologies designed to make California more drought-resilient.

The order also set out new measures to reduce water use, including the replacement of 50 million square feet (4.6 million square meters) of lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping.

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It can be a tough sell for people with plenty to spend. And many Americans who developed California came from the wetter US East, used to rolling lawns, hedges and flower beds.

But “really, everyone here has got the message on what is happening” in terms of drought, said Onesimo Jauregui, another gardener from Mexico, hose in hand, carefully watering plants in front of another mansion.

“For some weeks now, the people who live around here have been watering less. A lot of them are putting gravel everywhere the green used to be,” he said.

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– Fines or fine-tuning? –

As he said, many Beverly Hills residents have started giving some thought to the crisis. And some have reduced the time irrigation systems are run.

Others have opted to replace some of their plantings with others that have deeper roots and look fine with less frequent watering.

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But getting out of the typical American mindset of homes needing big lawns and gardens remains a challenge.

“It is a huge culture change — and a way of thinking,” said Trish Ray, with the city’s of Beverly Hills’ public works office.

“What we have to work on with our citizens is how do we redefine what a garden city means,” she said. With some changes made, “it may look a little different, but it’s just as beautiful.”

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The move to fining hasn’t started yet, but could soon if the situation does not change.

Governor Brown’s order also set out new measures to reduce water use, including the replacement of 50 million square feet (4.6 million square meters) of lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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‘Go look at President Trump’s Twitter’: Portland right-wing rally organizer claims ‘mission success’

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The organizer of a far-right rally in Portland, Oregon claimed the event was a "success" after President Donald Trump attacked Portlandiers protesting the group.

"A confluence of protesters on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum merged on Portland’s waterfront Saturday in a tense but relatively uneventful face-off that brought national attention, including a tweet in the hours before the protest by President Trump decrying the city’s signature anti-fascist movement," the Oregonian reported Saturday.

When a similar right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Virginia killed Heather Heyer, Trump argued there were "fine people" on both sides of the "Unite the Right" rally.

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Why was Jeffrey Epstein buying size 5 women’s panties — while in jail?

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The Miami Herald has another bombshell report on Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a Manhattan jail while waiting to stand trial on federal sex crimes charges.

"A decade ago, during a brief stint in Palm Beach County Jail, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein made an odd purchase at the facility’s store: two pairs of small women’s panties, size 5," the Herald reported Saturday night.

The newspaper noted, "the panties raise questions about why a childless male inmate, accused of sexually abusing girls as young as 14, would be allowed to buy female undergarments so small that they wouldn’t fit an average-sized adult woman."

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White nationalist Republican ridiculed after only 2 people show up for his town hall meeting

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Embattled Rep. Steve King (R-IA) suffered further humiliation on Saturday when only two people showed up for his town hall meeting with Iowa constituents.

King, who was stripped of all committee assignments for his white nationalism, was been an embarrassment for Republicans with his constant racism and misogyny.

A photo of the town hall meeting was posted on Twitter by Reuters photo editor Corinne Perkins.

https://twitter.com/corinne_perkins/status/1162806565109473280

Rep. King was quickly mocked in the comments.

Here's some of what people were saying:

https://twitter.com/sedespres/status/1162811223186006018

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