When Angelina and Quan Ha decided that they wanted to save water by removing their front lawn, little did they know that they would invite the wrath of city officials:
The dispute began two years ago, when Quan and Angelina Ha tore out the grass in their frontyard. In drought-plagued Southern California, the couple said, the lush grass had been soaking up tens of thousands of gallons of water -- and hundreds of dollars -- each year.
They said they were trying to do something good for the environment.
"We've got a newborn, so we want to start worrying about her future," said Quan Ha, an information technology manager for Kelley Blue Book.
But city officials told the Has they were violating several city laws that require residents to cover significant portions of their frontyards with live ground cover. On Tuesday, the couple is scheduled to appear in Orange County Superior Court to challenge the city's lawsuit against them.
Soon after the city complained about the yard, the Has placed wood chips on top of the dirt, with help from neighbor Dennis Cleek.
"It's their yard, it's not overgrown with weeds, it's not an eyesore," said Cleek, whose own yard boasts fruit trees. "We should be able to have our yards look the way we want them to."
But city officials determined the fix was not acceptable, saying city codes require that 40% of the yard be landscaped predominantly with live plants.