Earlier this week, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider pointed out the stark difference between the city's parks going brown on the south side of Cabrillo Boulevard while the sprawling lawns of a hotel across the street continue to be green.
Just after a presentation by the city's Parks & Recreation Department about how some parks in the city are not being watered at all to save water, Schneider commented that "the contrast from one side of Cabrillo to another is dramatic," and asked if the hotel could reduce water usage in that area.
Staff at Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort say they've been complying with the city's water restrictions, and that they've been working to conserve for years.
Five years ago, the hotel purchased a software system that adjusts how much water to put out on the lawn based on real time cloud cover and forecast data.
"It's incredibly customized," said Matthew LaVine, Fess Parker's general manager. "The city doesn't do the stuff that we do all year long to keep the grass healthy."
The hotel contracts with company Valley Crest to maintain the lawn, and things such as fertilizing and keeping the lawn short have also kept it green, he said.
"All of these things we do prevent us from having to over-water," he said. "Our grass is not completely green. We could throw more water on it, but we understand the situation."
The hotel's fountain is also dry.
Though the space on the north side of Cabrillo Boulevard is owned by the City of Santa Barbara, the hotel is required to maintain the lawn as part of the development agreement.
The hotel also has taken steps to conserve water inside though hotel, LaVine said, including installing low-flow toilets and laundry equipment that eliminates rinse cycles.
"Conservation has always been on our minds," he said.
The city has implemented restrictions on outdoor water use and imposed drought rates for water users as a way to encourage conservation. Officials are asking all water customers to cut their use by 20 percent, but those conservation rates haven't materialized yet.