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Scant benefit, no logic to Cape Coral’s over-reaching watering regulations

By Staff | Jan 12, 2023

To the editor:

Giving careful consideration to the recent decision to issue guidelines to local homeowners as to when they are allowed to water their lawns, I find such action a complete and unnecessary overreach of civil authority, one that places an undue hardship to home and property owners for reason that are unclear.

In short, the city is trying to solve a problem that does not exist and, in attempting to regulate and monitor human behavior because of so-called regulatory mandates, homeowners are forced — by law — and through code enforcement mechanism which puts every single homeowner in legal crosshairs for non-compliance, violations that result in hefty fines, and in extreme cases, property liens which could cause enormous financial hardship.

Thus, we are left without a right to protest such government overreach, which is why I submit this protest to you today.

Has the city even considered the undue hardship it imposes on free citizens of our city?

Do city policy advisors give any consideration to the fact that people, if left to their own devices, might just have the individual good judgement on how and when to water their grass and plants?

Is it really necessary for city officials to come up with a “schedule grid” that forces homeowner to set up a schedule (in some cases requiring the hiring of a “lawn technician,” to make sure our sprinklers are properly set and city-approved)?

And who devised such arbitrary rules such as aligning home address numbers to specific days of the week, even adding specific hours on those days when lawn watering is prohibited for reasons that are vague? Is there some science behind all of this structuring that shows any natural benefit?

For what reason does the city believe it has the legal authority to force human beings to accommodate regulatory mandates of something as simple as watering plants and grass? Is there a crisis at hand? Is there the possibility of drought?

There is no water shortage in Southwest Florida. Annual rainfall averages over 55 inches a year, according to the National Weather Service, making Cape Coral one of the wettest cities of the United States.

Contrast this to other metropolitan areas, such as Los Angeles with a population of over 8 million people, which receives just 12 inches of rainfall per year and is served by the depleting Colorado River.

Austin, Texas receives 35 inches of rain per year, and it has a population four times as large as Cape Coral.

In addition to our hefty rainfall, our area is also served by a lake with a surface area as large as Lee County.

Taking these facts into consideration, why then are we forced to regulate our behavior on when we water and how much we want to water to keep our lawns green and lush? Is the city of Cape Coral worried about water thievery?

Fundamental to our basic civil liberties, U.S. citizens have a constitutional right to be left alone, to secure and inhabit private property as we see fit as law abiding citizens, or according to community standards endorsed by the citizens of that community.

I assert the city of Cape Coral is wasting its resources in developing and enforcing a complicated schedule grid that ultimately forces people to comply or face legal action, when there is no clearly need for such regulation.

It is a complete waste of taxpayer money (over $500,000 annually) to fund this idiotic program which involves the hiring of code enforcement officers, office support staff, vehicles, vehicle insurance and repair, clerks who process information and keep records on homeowners, all of this so that people don’t water their lawns too much!

What cost benefit is being secured by lawn code enforcement?

Better that our city government and its elected officials prioritize its management to supporting law enforcement efforts to curb real criminal activity, making sure our public service agencies have the full resources they need keep the people safe and secure from fires, flooding, criminal activity, and ensuring our children have safe and clean neighborhoods in which to thrive. Lawn sprinklers are not the problem.

Cape Coral is the American dream for hundreds of thousands of people. Let’s limit government meddling as much as possible, especially with something as ridiculously simple as lawn maintenance poses no real threat to our community.

Jim Watkins

Cape Coral

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