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City Council Report

 

City Council Meeting: December 13, 2011

Agenda Item: 7-F

To:               Mayor and City Council 

From:           Dean Kubani, Director Office of Sustainability and the Environment

Subject:        Proposed Amendment to the Santa Monica Municipal Code Chapter 8.108(b) regarding the City’s Green Building Regulations and Proposed Adoption of Resolution Amending the Water-Efficient Landscape and Irrigation Standards

 

 

Recommended Action

Staff recommends that City Council:

1)     Introduce for first reading the attached ordinance updating the City’s Green Building Ordinance Subpart B landscape and irrigation regulations to exempt registered local, state or federal historical sites and plant collections as part of botanical gardens and arboretums open to the public. 

2)    Adopt a Resolution updating the Water-Efficient Landscape and Irrigation Standards to clarify definitions, applicability, and acceptable water-saving irrigation equipment.

 

Executive Summary

The State Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance provides exemptions for landscapes in registered historical sites, botanical gardens, and arboretums.  The City’s local ordinance must be at least as effective as the State ordinance.  The City’s current Green Building Ordinance does not provide exemptions for these types of landscapes. Staff recommends amending the ordinance to allow these exemptions.  In addition to the proposed changes in the ordinance, staff recommends adopting changes to the Water-Efficient Landscape and Irrigation Standards which contain specific requirements for the design, installation and maintenance of public and private landscaping and irrigation.  These changes clarify definitions and acceptable water-saving equipment that make it easier for the public to understand and comply.

 

Background

On April 22, 2008, City Council adopted the Green Building Ordinance 8.108, Subpart B relating to landscape and irrigation regulations that promote the use of climate-appropriate plants and water-efficient irrigation systems.  On December 8, 2009 Council adopted modifications to that ordinance and adopted the Water-Efficient Landscape and Irrigation Standards (Standards) to comply with the State Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance in Chapter 2.7 (commencing with Section 490) of Division 2 of the Department of Water Resources Title 23 of the California Code of Regulations.

 

The current ordinance and Standards apply to all landscape, irrigation systems, and water features, including City landscape projects such as Town Square and Palisades Garden Walk, with a few specific exemptions for public agencies, such as water features.  The ordinance and Standards are enforced by the Office of Sustainability and the Environment.

 

 

Discussion

The State Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance allows exemptions for specific types of landscape projects including registered local, state or federal historical sites and plant collections as part of botanical gardens and arboretums open to the public.  Those exemptions were not included in the City’s Green Building Ordinance.  Staff recommends amending the ordinance to allow these exemptions for projects with those designations. For instance Town Square would be exempt, because City Hall is a designated historical site.

 

In addition to the proposed changes in the ordinance, staff recommends adopting changes to the Standards which contain specific requirements for the design, installation and maintenance of public and private landscaping and irrigation.  These changes clarify definitions and acceptable water-saving equipment that make it easier for the public to understand and comply.

The significant revisions include:

·       Removing parkways from plan set and inspection requirements;

·       Requiring the State Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance’s Maximum Allowable Water Budget Formula for landscape plans submitted through a combination permit;

·       Clarifying applicability of water feature requirements;

·       Exempting greywater from the irrigation requirements as it must be used within a 24-hour period and as a result the water may be distributed in mulch basins or through the use of higher flow irrigation equipment;

·       Weather-based irrigation controllers that are listed by the EPA’s WaterSense program and/or the Irrigation Association’s Smart Water Application Technologies are acceptable.

The revisions to the Ordinance and Standards were developed collaboratively by City staff from the Office of Sustainability and the Environment, Planning and Community Development, Public Works, Community Maintenance, and the City Attorney’s office.  

 

 

Alternatives

As an alternative to adopting the ordinance modifications, the Council may choose to keep the existing ordinance and require that historical sites and botanical gardens comply with the ordinance and the Standards.  The existing requirements would prohibit certain types of plants and/or irrigation to be utilized in historical sites and botanical gardens, which would impact the effectiveness of landscape as a demonstration garden. Council may choose to keep the existing Standards.

 

Financial Impacts & Budget Actions

There are no budget or financial impacts associated with the recommendations made in this report.  The costs associated with plan review and inspections are paid for by the project applicant’s building permit fees.

 

 

Prepared by: Kim O’Cain, Water Resources Specialist

 

Approved:

 

Forwarded to Council:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dean Kubani

Director, Office of Sustainability and the Environment

 

Rod Gould

City Manager

 

 

Attachments:

1.     Ordinance: Green Building Subpart B

2.     Resolution Amending the Water-Efficient Landscape and Irrigation Standards

3.     Water-Efficient Landscape and Irrigation Standards