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The Political Landscape:

Lawn owner stands his ground

Resident tells the city that he’s never going to pay a $400 citation for letting his grass die.

January 07, 2009|By Alan Blank and Brianna Bailey

Kevin Doane, a man who is quickly propelling himself into the realm of local lore because of a dispute over his rights and obligations as a property owner in Costa Mesa, first appeared at a City Council meeting at the beginning of last month to tell the audience about his plight.

The out-of-work contractor allowed the front lawn of his Mesa Verde home to deteriorate into a patch of dirt after he stopped watering it to save money on his monthly bills. He refused to pay the repeated citations the city issued him, which eventually totaled $400, and he came to the council Dec. 2 to let them know.

“No. 1, I will not pay that — ever — and you can do whatever you want to do,” the stocky, gruff man told the council, threatening to spray paint his dirt green or dump a truck load of green rocks on it if the city continued to complain.

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More than a month later Doane made an encore performance, this time bringing with him a home-made cardboard sign with black lettering much like those carried by the homeless saying, “Need money to pay Costa Mesa $400 fine — Can’t work, will lose unemployment — Will take any donation.”

Doane met with a city hearing officer a couple of days ago to make the case that he should be exempt from the city’s orders because of financial hardship.

The hearing officer denied his request, though, because he failed to bring past tax returns as proof.

“He didn’t bring anything. He had plenty of information on what he should bring but he didn’t bring anything in at all. It’s so unfortunate because we get these types of violation calls all the time and we always tell them that they have options to put stuff out there that doesn’t necessarily need to be watered,” said code enforcement officer Fidel Gamboa.

Mayor Allan Mansoor asked city staff to follow up on the situation and find out if any drought-resistant landscaping options could be found. Doane said he won’t stop fighting the fines, which he thinks are an unjust burden on him.

“This whole thing has just challenged me to challenge the city,” Doane said.

CAMPBELL: Share your gripes with laws

Rep. John Campbell is urging his constituents to share their frustrations with the federal government through a new feature on his website called “It shouldn’t be a law.”

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