While drought-stricken Californians are being told to turn off lawn sprinklers, avoid washing their cars and leave their swimming pools empty to conserve water, many of Hollywood's famous liberal celebrities are acting as though the four-year drought doesn't exist.
In posh Beverly Hills mansions of some wealthy TV and movie stars, flowers are blooming, grass is lush and green, and swimming pools and fountains are bubbling away.
In a helicopter survey, photographer John Chapple took photos of homes owned by Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Khloe Kardashian, Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner and even liberal self-described environmentalist Barbra Streisand and found that while others' lawns are turning brown, the Tinseltown's stars are acting as if the drought doesn't even exist, the New York Post says.
Only a year of drinking water remains in California's depleted reservoirs, yet Hollywood's star mansions, with their staggering prices, remain richly landscaped with carpets of emerald lawns and brightly flowering shrubs, mainly because the paltry fine of $100 for violating water restrictions doesn't faze the wealthy celebrities.
One water official estimated that 70 percent of the water in the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, which includes many celebrity palaces, goes to watering just 100 of the posh estates.
"We’re right up there with Beverly Hills, and that means we have to get the A-listers on the bus," the official told the Post.
The Kardashian/West estate's rich foliage enrages neighbors, one of whom told the Post,
"The Kardashian flowers and hedges are right in our face. It’s disgusting. You walk by and you can smell the freshness."
Lopez's mansion grounds and the estate of Jessica Simpson also anger neighbors. One told the Post, "They’re just as bad. And because of all their money, they can just pay the extra rates for water and let the city be damned."
Lopez, one neighbor said, is "pretty dismissive. She has said, 'Oh, so I’ll just pay some fines. What are they going to do?'"
Kim Kardashian even claimed she has been washing her hair only every five days in response to the drought, which she termed "a little excessive, maybe," but her plants are far from suffering, the Daily Mail reports.
Streisand spokesman Ken Sunshine told the Post, "She has cut down her water usage by over 50 percent in the last several months and she is going to take further steps to conserve water," but when pressed about photos which showed her Malibu estate's foliage greenly gleaming and her swimming pool full, he retreated to a "no comment."
Hefner's estate contains koi ponds, waterfalls, streams, ponds, and luxuriously growing foliage.
Some celebrities, such as Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts and Cher, have taken steps to change their greenery and cut their water usage, with Aniston ripping out her water-guzzling vineyards and replacing them with drought-resistant plants, and Roberts' lawn obviously showing brown spots.
Aniston "actually doesn’t have much of a lawn. Her entire front courtyard is mostly stone and trees," her representative, Stephen Huvane, told the Post.
Gov. Jerry Brown, hoping for a 36 percent reduction in water use, has proposed a $10,000 fine to replace the $100, but so far, no action has been taken, the Daily Mail said.
However, the state government is setting a poor example. During a recent rain, videos show sprinklers going full blast on hillsides by the 101 Freeway and Barham Boulevard in Universal City, CBS News reports.
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The California Transportation Commission plans to install a $28 million "smart sprinkler" statewide system that will turn off sprinklers when it's raining, a commission spokesman told CBS News.
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