Water Districts Cite Celebrities For Water Use During Drought | NBC Southern California

Water Districts Cite Celebrities For Water Use During Drought



    Despite the ongoing California drought, an NBC4 investigation revealed a list of celebrities who have been fined or warned for overuse of water. Jenna Susko reports for NBC4. (Published Friday, Sept. 11, 2015)

    Deep in the worst drought in more than a century, citizens all across the state of California have been told if they waste water, they will be fined.

    But NBC4 has learned some celebrities in Southern California may not be cutting back, despite warnings and fines for violating water regulations.

    The dwindling water supply has led many homeowners to let their lawns turn brown, or for Calabasas resident Raymond Lobjois, to just get rid of it all together.

    "My whole yard used to be grass," Lobjois said. "Because of the water restrictions, the water district asked us to reduce, so we just got rid of it all."

    But in Hollywood, celebrity homes like that of 18-year-old reality star Kylie Jenner still sport lush green lawns.

    This summer, Jenner’s $2.6 million home was hit with two violations, including a fine.

    It comes three months after sister Kim Kardashian West’s grassy estate made headlines after a rep told Page Six that Kim "has no problem letting her lawn go brown."

    Kardashian’s publicist told NBC4 she had no comment.

    Dave Pedersen, general manager of the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District which serves the Calabasas and Hidden Hills areas, said his agency has been patrolling the areas in the community looking to stop water waste – including gated neighborhoods.

    "We have actually reached out to celebrities in our district," Pedersen said. "I have personally written letters to them asking them to take a stand on conservation."

    One letter he showed NBC4 was addressed to Kardashian.

    And records show his district has been busy.

    This summer, officials cited David Hasselhoff’s home as well as a house belonging to music mogul Dr. Dre. And in October, the Calabasas home of actress Denise Richards also received a violation.

    A rep for Hasselhoff told NBC4 the violation he received was for watering on the wrong day – and said it was an oversight and the matter has now been addressed.

    "Nobody likes enforcement," Pedersen said. "We’re not eager to do it and I’m not eager to do it, but it’s a necessity."

    And the district says it’s working, claiming customers have cut water use by 35 percent.

    But, whether or not celebrities have been cited comes down to their neighborhood.

    In Los Angeles, DWP issued thousands of warning letters in the last year. But, officials were only able to verify 25 of those letters and just 9 people received fines, none of whom are Hollywood elite. "We don’t give anybody a free pass," LADWP’s Marty Adams told NBC4.

    To level the playing field during the drought, many people have turned to social media to shame others who have been caught wasting water.

    Tony Corcoran, who has led the "drought shaming" movement in Southern California and posts hundreds of videos online calling on water wasters to change their ways, said DWP could be doing more.

    "At this point, if you don’t know that we’re in a drastic drought, there’s something wrong with you," Corcoran said.

    He said celebrities should be setting an example.

    "If they don’t care, why should I care?" Corcoran said.

    NBA All-Star Paul Pierce, signed by the Clippers this summer, was issued a warning at his Calabasas home for water use.

    As was former Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Records show two of Sterling’s Beverly Hills properties, which he said he leases out to tenants, have received warning letters for their water use. But, no fines from the Beverly Hills Water District.

    The renter of one of Sterling’s properties told NBC4 the warning letter was for watering on the wrong day, which was caused by a sprinkler timer malfunction. He also said he uses gray water to keep his landscaping alive.

    To date, the Beverly Hills Water District said it has not fined anyone for violating water regulations.
    NBC4 did not receive a response from representatives for Kylie Jenner, Denise Richards or Paul Pierce.

    Editor’s note: A previous version of this story showed a different house (across the street) than the one belonging to Kylie Jenner, and misidentified Las Virgenes Municipal Water District General Manager Dave Pedersen. The article and video have been updated. The comment from Kim Kardashian’s publicist has also been updated.

    Editor's note: Additional information was received from one of Donald Sterling's tenants after the air date of this story. This article has been updated to reflect the reason for the warning and other relevant details of water use on the property. (Oct. 20, 2015)