Fernand Bogman thinks of himself as a responsible citizen by not watering the grass at his San Bernardino County home during California's three-year dry spell.
But officials in the San Bernardino County community of Upland view the homeowner in violation of the law by keeping his lawn brown instead of green.
Bogman is charged with two misdemeanors for failing to properly maintain his front yard and parkway space. He faces $4,000 in fines or six months in jail when the case goes to trial on Monday.
Prosecutor Dan Peelman told the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin that Bogman was given the option to pay fines and to correct the issue. He also met with city officials who told him if he submitted a drought-tolerant landscaping proposal he could avoid going to trial.
Bogman rejected the offers.
"It is incomprehensible that there is such a disconnect between the city staff who are just following pre-drought ordinances that prohibit residents from allowing their grass to brown and the public that has agreed to conserve water," Bogman told the Daily Bulletin.
City officials have said the issue involves a neglected yard, not just brown spots, and complaints from neighbors. Bogman told the Bulletin his property is well maintained and that he plans to plant drought-tolerant landscaping.
The lawn showdown comes at a dire time for California's water supply. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency earlier this year as reservoirs reached critically low levels and snowpack diminished in the Sierras, a key source of water shared by 25 millions Californians. The Central Valley has been among the hardest hit regions. Farmers in the agriculture heart of the state have fallowed fields.
Mandatory water restrictions are in effect as California faces a fourth-consecutive dry year after a summer of record heat.
The state has received only light to moderate rainfall since Oct. 1, the start of the state's water year. Rainfall was at 20 percent of normal in exceptional drought areas around Los Angeles.