Cities adopting state-mandated water ordinances
|November 27, 2009 - New landscaping ordinances will kick in the first of the year that will require more efficient landscaping at homes and businesses.|
|Alfred Lee, Staff Writer|
|Like it or not, mandatory restrictions are coming by the first of the year for homeowners and developers with large pieces of property to water.|
Under the state's Water Conservation in Landscaping Act of 2006, by Jan. 1 cities must adopt local ordinances that restrict water usage for developers - and also for public agencies - who construct new projects that include 2,500 feet or more of landscaping.
The restrictions will also apply to homeowners with landscape projects of 5,000 feet or more.
If cities don't implement local laws by the deadline, a provision written into the act ordering the restrictions will simply take over.
Water-saving ordinances will likely vary - at least slightly - from city to city. But in general, affected developers and homeowners will have to apply for permits and submit their landscaping plans to cities for review.
"It's going to take some manpower and take some money in a time when budgets are kind of getting smaller. But hey, we don't have any water," said Stuart McFeely, parks manager for the city of Whittier.
On Nov. 10, Whittier introduced an ordinance directly modeled after the state's plan, McFeely said. The city's program could require it to hire a landscape architect and an auditor.
"We had 14 to 15 calls within the last 30 days from cities saying, `What are you doing?"' he said. "They're finally getting moving on it, I guess."
On Tuesday, Sierra Madre officials introduced an ordinance modeled after laws adopted by cities in the Inland Empire. It requires a 2-inch mulch layer to be applied to exposed soil surfaces, prohibits runoff, and requires irrigation systems to shut off during unfavorable weather.
The ordinance also places "emphasis on using native vegetation - encouraging the use of plants that require a low amount of watering," City Manager Elaine Aguilar said.
"If somebody falls above the (water use) threshold, then their plans are reviewed before the landscaping goes in," she said.
Sierra Madre officials "probably saved a lot of trees" by making their ordinance more concise and easier to understand than the state's, Public Works Director Bruce Inman said.
"We were able to make the findings that the state requires - that this ordinance will be at least as effective in conserving water as the state ordinance," Inman said.
West Covina officials just started work on a draft of an ordinance and plan to adopt something by the beginning of next year, Acting City Planner Jeff Anderson said.
"We haven't gotten into it very far yet, but we're certainly aware of it and trying to move forward," he said.
Pasadena officials plan to put an ordinance on the agenda in the next two or three weeks, city spokeswoman Ann Erdman said.
"There are one or two neighbors on every block where on a rainy day, you go to work and see their sprinklers going off automatically," McFeely said. "Those days will be over."
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