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Santa Maria Jiffy Lube owner frustrated with city over landscapi - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Santa Maria Jiffy Lube owner frustrated with city over landscaping regulations

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The City of Santa Maria may fine a local business owner after he changed the landscaping on his property to save water.

The city says the changes at Jiffy Lube on Broadway are not up to code.

Jiffy Lube franchisee Sean Porcher wants to save water during the drought. Through research, Porcher found synthetic turf an appealing option.

"We replaced a lot more water-consuming shrubs with some nice plants and some rubber bark that's recycled," Porcher said.

Since making the change, Porcher says he's saved hundreds of gallons.

But there are issues.

City regulations require that Porcher have at least 15 percent real plant life.

"So basically that would require us to rip out all of the hard work of putting synthetic turf in and putting regular grass back in and re-putting our irrigation back in to use the water," Porcher said. "And quite frankly, that really frustrates me because we thought we were doing the right thing."

City planning division manager Peter Gilli says in 1986, the planning commission approved that property on Broadway to be converted from an old service station into the Jiffy Lube.

Gilli says that permit had a number of conditions, and in the past year when Jiffy Lube redid the landscaping, the landscaping was changed in a way that did not match the old approval.

"The main issue here is that the work was done that needed a permit, and he didn't have one," Gilli said.

Gilli says city code does not allow artificial landscaping along major streets like Broadway and Main. He says that city code has been in place since 1976.

Porcher could face fines from $2,500 to $100,000 if he doesn't make changes.

Gilli says the city initially spoke to Porcher in the fall. He says Jiffy Lube needs to come in and file for an amendment to its old permit, which Gilli says is a straightforward process.

"But then there was a period where we stopped getting a response to our phone calls," Gilli said. "That's the only reason we sent the letter out that had a reference to fines. If he comes back in and opens the dialogue and works with us in a cooperative manner, he won't be fined."

"Maybe come to us with ways that we can comply without having to waste more water by putting regular turf back in," Porcher said.

For more information on drought tolerant landscaping in Santa Maria, click here.

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