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Del Mar Council approves water efficient landscape ordinance

DEL MAR — To comply with state regulations, council members at the Jan. 4 meeting unanimously approved, as part of the consent calendar, several revisions to the city’s water efficient landscape ordinance.

The changes are in response to an executive order issued last year by Gov. Jerry Brown that directed the Water Resources Control Board to update the state’s water efficient landscape ordinance through expedited regulation.

The California Water Commission approved the revised ordinance this past July 15 and gave cities and counties until Dec. 1, 2015, to adopt the new state laws or create their own that were at least as effective in conserving water.

Del Mar’s existing ordinance, adopted in late 2010, meets the majority of the state objectives so only updates were required.

The changes apply to new residential, commercial, industrial and institutional projects with landscape areas of 500 square feet or more that require a permit, plan check or design review.

The previous threshold for new development projects ranged from 2,500 square feet to 5,000 square feet.

The threshold for existing landscapes that are being rehabilitated remains at 2,500 square feet.

Only rehabilitated landscapes that are associated with a building or landscape permit, plan check or design review are subject to the ordinance.

The new rules limit the landscape area that can include high-water-use plants. For residential projects, the amount is being reduced from 33 percent to 25 percent.

Additionally, no new turf can be installed in nonresidential landscapes.

Four modifications were made in an effort to make watering systems more efficient.

Overhead spray irrigation can only be used between 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. Use was previously allowed from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m.

Dedicated landscape water meters or sub-meters will be required for residential landscapes over 5,000 square feet and nonresidential landscapes over 1,000 square feet.

All irrigation emission devices must meet the national standard to ensure that only high-efficiency sprinklers are installed.

The minimum width of areas that can be overhead irrigated was changed from 8 feet to 10 feet. Areas less than 10 feet wide must be irrigated with subsurface drip or other technology that produces no overspray or runoff.

Turf will be prohibited in parkways in public right-of-ways less than 10 feet wide unless the parkway is adjacent to a parking strip and used to enter and exit vehicles.

Any turf in parkways must be irrigated by sub-surface irrigation or other technology that creates no overspray or runoff.

Friable soil will be required in planted areas to maximize water retention and infiltration.

Four yards of compost per 1,000 square feet of area must be incorporated to a depth of 6 inches.

There are also new incentives for the use of recycled water, gray water and rainwater captured onsite for landscapes less than 2,500 square feet.

Council was expected to discuss the new rules at the Dec. 7 meeting but the item was continued. It was scheduled for a public hearing on Jan. 4 but Mayor Sherryl Parks asked that it be added to the consent calendar, which includes items that are considered routine and acted upon with one motion.

The items are not discussed unless there is a request to do so by member of the public or council. There was no such request.