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Nick Ut, Associated Press
This Aug. 8, 2014 photo shows Rick Blankenship and his lawn at his home in Long Beach, Calif. As Californians face a historic drought, more people are tearing out thirsty grass lawns to cut down on water use.

LONG BEACH, Calif. — As California faces an historic drought, residents are tearing out thirsty lawns to cut down on water use.

Water agencies across the state have been encouraging the change by offering thousands of dollars in rebates to help homeowners make the switch to a drought-friendly landscape with better odds of surviving dry spells common to the local climate.

Water officials hope the shift is more than a fad and marks the beginning of a transformation in the way residents view neighborhood landscapes.

To date, most lawns in Southern California don't bear greenery other than grass but water agency officials say the interest in turf removal programs — fueled in part by an increase in rebate rates — is encouraging.