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Del Mar sets new laws for efficient landscaping

DEL MAR — Needing to comply with state law, City Council at the Sept. 20 meeting approved the first reading of a water efficient landscape ordinance that will govern landscape design, installation, maintenance and management to improve water efficiency and conservation.
Cities have been required since Jan. 1 of this year 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 allows local jurisdictions to tailor the regulations to fit their specific needs. Del Mar established an ad hoc citizens advisory committee in April 2009 to provide recommendations for the proposed ordinance revision.
The staff report describes the Del Mar ordinance as “more user friendly” than the state or regional model.
Projects subject to the new regulations include new landscaping by individual homeowners on single- or multifamily residential lots with two units or less with a landscaped area more than 5,000 square feet, including pools or other water features — but excluding hardscape — that require a building permit, plan check or design review.
The new laws will also apply to new or rehabilitated landscaping for multifamily residential projects of more than two units or by public agencies or private nonresidential developers with a landscaped area more than 2,500 square feet.
Rehabilitated landscape projects of more than 2,500 square feet and at least 50 percent of the total landscaped area also must comply with the new ordinance, unless the irrigation system minimizes water waste.
Registered local, state or federal historical sites and ecological restoration projects that do not require a permanent irrigation system will not be subject to the ordinance.
The new laws will take effect 30 days after final adoption of the ordinance, which is currently set for Oct. 4.

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