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For county supe, the grass really will be greener

SOLANA BEACH — When it comes to doing his part to help the environment, County Supervisor Dave Roberts doesn’t just talk the talk.

He is now walking the walk around the approximately 6,500 square feet of artificial turf he recently had installed at his Solana Beach home.

Roberts and his partner, Wally Oliver, are taking advantage of government financing and rebate programs to fund the $45,000 project and expect a return on their investment in less than nine years.

They began discussing ways to save water and money at the beginning of the year. Many of their neighbors had replaced their landscaping with drought-tolerant plants.

“But Wally said with a brick Colonial house, you’ve got to have a grass yard,” said Roberts, who 12 years ago bought the home — the first one on the east side of the city — that was built in the mid-1970s by singer Patti Page.

“He was right,” Roberts added. “Once we saw the quality of artificial turf that’s available now, we decided to do it. And once we made the decision it went quickly.”

Orange County-based Turf Evolutions began removing the front and back lawns, which are about 3,250 square feet each, Sept. 15.

The work was expected to take approximately six days.

Roberts and Oliver will recoup some of their costs with a rebate program from the Metropolitan Water District.

They are eligible to receive about $2 per square foot of grass that is replaced.

The $33,000 balance is being financed using a Home Energy Retrofit Opportunity, or HERO, which is part of the Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, program.

PACE allows property owners to buy water-conservation or energy-efficient upgrades and pay for them over time through an additional assessment on their property tax bills.

Artificial turf reduces water use by about 44 gallons per square foot, so Roberts and Oliver expect to save about 264,000 gallons of water each year by not watering their lawn.

Property owners must live in a city that participates in the HERO program, which Solana Beach agreed to do in late 2013.

It takes a few minutes online to determine if owners qualify for the program, Matt Messina, community development manager with HERO, said.

There are more than 50 product categories to choose from, including everything from artificial turf and solar panels to tankless water heaters and window filming.

There are no upfront costs, and up to 10 percent of the value of the home can be financed for improvements. The loan can be for up to 20 years and there are no prepayment penalties, Messina said.

“It’s a great, easy program,” Roberts said, adding that he wished it was available five years ago when he and Oliver had solar installed. “This is good for the environment and good for the economy.”

While he’s looking forward to saving money and water, Roberts was most excited the day the work started by the equipment being used to unearth his lawn.

“This is the coolest machine,” he said at least three times while watching the crew.

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