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Developments Facing New Laws For Landscaping In 2010

A little noticed change in the law will affect landscaping in new housing developments in the coming year.

California legislators passed a law in 2006 that requires cities and counties to develop ordinances to save water use in new landscapes by 30 percent. The law goes into effect tomorrow.

Toby Roy of San Diego County Water Authority says the state only came up with a model ordinance last October. She says San Diego county agencies have worked with cities and the building industry to develop a model ordinance for this region.

“As new development goes in, it will be designed to the new standards,” Roy said. “Residents installing landscapes for new homes will come in to the counter and get information on how to design a landscape but they wont have to go through a permit process.”

San Diego County’s Landscape ordinance which governs the unincorporated areas was approved earlier this month. It requires new landscapes over a certain size to be designed by state licensed landscape architects.

San Diego garden designer, Nan Sterman, says that will exclude hundreds of professional garden designers specially trained in low water use plants.

“We have four community colleges in San Diego turning out people who are landscape designers who will not be qualified to develop those plans,” Sterman said.

She says the ordinance makes putting in new drought tolerant landscaping more expensive. Plus, she says, a manual with guidelines on low water use and fire resistant plants is not based on up-to-date, scientifically proven data. Many new plants have become popular since the data used to prepare the manual was published.

The ordinances do not affect existing homeowners, though water use officials hope the design guidelines will affect all new landscaping in the region.

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Avatar for user 'Raychael'

Raychael | January 4, 2010 at 2:34 a.m. ― 7 years, 2 months ago

Once again legislation is passed with no thought [until the very very last moment] of how to implement the plan effectively with reason and thought as to the outcome. So we have a new ordinance which will be helpful for water conservation and and hinder good economic growth for hundreds of landscape design professionals. I do not think legislators really had this outcome in mind.

I am one of the Graduates of Landscape technology from Southwestern College. One of the landscape designs I created and implemented won me Best in District for Sweetwater Authority for use of drought tolerant plants. With the new ordinance I can not promote this design or any others I can concieve of . Many designers are being strangled by this.. and at time when gainful employment is a say nothing of seeing that the purpose for the ordinance is fulfilled.[reduce water usage by 30%].

I would like to suggest:
1. Provide the new material complied by the agencies, clearly show the new ordinances which are to be implemented.
2.Set aside some funding ,create a knowledgeable group of people from the landscape community to update the Manual of Guidlines for low water usage, how to use this water effectively and lists of plant material appropiate for current goals. have this new manual approved , printed and distributed as soon as possible.
3.I would like to suggest a test is created for landscape designers. The test given to ALL landscape design professionals.[ state licensed or not]
A test which will show their knowledge of plants,expertise in designing with drought tolerant plants and how the design ,once implemented does save water over time. Keep our goals not only in mind but as a real outcome.

Passing this test will entitle them to a license and allow them to make good use of their skills. This will provide stae-wide uniformity in implementing the new ordinances by knowledgeable persons.

Our economy needs more thriving and productive businesses along with more respect for our limited water supply.

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