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Fact check: Trump falsely claims Beverly Hills restricts residents’ tooth-brushing and showering

Former President Donald Trump makes up stories about a dizzying variety of topics. One of the oddest subjects of his fiction is household water rules in the wealthy Los Angeles-area city of Beverly Hills, where he used to own a home.

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday, Trump claimed, “They’re notifying people in Beverly Hills, you can only use 40 gallons of water. They don’t have water,” he said. After criticizing how the state of California manages its water, he continued, “And it’s true: in Beverly Hills, you pay a fortune in taxes, they say you can only brush your teeth once a day.”

This was only the latest colorful Trump tale about supposed water restrictions in Beverly Hills. At California’s Republican convention in September, he said, “Rich people in Beverly Hills – we don’t feel so sorry for ’em, but I do, actually.
They pay millions of dollars in taxes, they’re taking a shower, they’re told to hurry up, you’re only allowed a small amount of water when they take a shower. That’s why rich people from Beverly Hills, generally speaking, don’t smell so good.”

That last sentence seemed like a joke, and the audience laughed. But he delivered the part about supposed Beverly Hills water rules as if he was describing a real policy.

Facts First: All of Trump’s claims are wrong. Beverly Hills does not have any limits on residents’ indoor water use; it does not restrict how many gallons of water they can use, how many times a day they can brush their teeth or how long they can spend in the shower.

Beverly Hills only limits residents’ outdoor watering, keeping it to a maximum of two days a week among other rules. The outdoor limits are part of a statewide effort to conserve water to help deal with California’s recurring drought-related challenges amid a warming climate.

“We do not limit water usage indoors,” Beverly Hills spokesperson Lauren Santillana said in an email on Saturday after Trump’s latest comments, “and continue to educate, along with many other cities across the state, best water practices.”

As for Trump’s claim that “you can only use 40 gallons of water” in Beverly Hills, it’s likely he was referring to a law signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2022 that set a statewide standard of 42 gallons per person per day of residential indoor water use starting in 2030. (A state report in 2021 said the median indoor residential water use was 48 gallons per person per day.) But contrary to Trump’s suggestion, that standard will apply to the entities that supply water to residents, not to residents themselves; the law won’t force people to spend less time brushing their teeth or showering.

“Individual households aren’t required to meet these standards. … No one is required to meet it individually,” said Heather Cooley, director of research at The Pacific Institute, a California-based think tank that studies water issues.

Water suppliers can take a number of possible steps to meet the standards without forcing behavioral changes upon residents, such as doing a better job fixing leaks and offering incentives for residents to use more efficient devices. And US households’ water use has already been in decline for decades, partly because of government-mandated product efficiency standards and building efficiency rules.

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