SOLANA BEACH — Bigger is no longer better when it comes to landscaping in Solana Beach.
Needing to comply with state law, council members unanimously adopted at the March 23 meeting a water efficient landscape ordinance that governs landscape design, installation, maintenance and management to improve water efficiency and conservation.
Since January 2010, cities have been required to enforce the policies of a state ordinance created by the Department of Water Resources as part of the Water Conservation in Landscaping Act of 2006.
The act allowed local jurisdictions to tailor the regulations to their specific needs. City staff participated in a process to develop a regional ordinance to promote consistency throughout the county, but recommended modifications to better fit Solana Beach.
A permit will be required for landscape and irrigation projects for industrial, commercial, multifamily and new residential projects that are 2,500 square feet or larger and not tied to a building or discretionary permit.
The permit cost is $321.20 to recover the city’s expenses to process, review and inspect the work.
Applicants must also submit detailed documents prepared by a professional to certify compliance with the new law.
The 2,500-square-foot threshold is lower than the state requirement to reflect smaller lot sizes in Solana Beach. Staff estimates it will review about five projects per year. Had the state project area of 5,000 square feet been adopted, staff estimates it would review about one project annually.
Penalties include $100, $200 and up to $500 fines for first, second and third violations. Misdemeanor penalties could also include a fine of not more than $1,000, six months in jail or both.
Existing single-family lots that are relandscaped are exempt. For a complete list of exempt and nonexempt projects, view the ordinance on the city website at ci.solana-beach.ca.us.