Landscape Ordinance

Landscape Ordinance Update

Project Manager: Meghan Kelly | | (858)694-2412

Public Review Draft Ordinance: 

The Landscape Ordinance, water budget worksheets, and tree planting guidelines are available for public review from February 14 - March 14, 2020. Comments on the drafts can be submitted to the Project Manager, as identified above. 

Link to Draft Ordinance

Links to Draft Water Budget Worksheets: Form 405 and 410

Link to Draft Tree Planting Guidelines

Project Purpose: 

Reducing outdoor water use and increasing tree planting reduces greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, conserves natural resources, and improves water quality. The County's Landscaping Ordinance is being updated to implement Climate Action Plan measures:

  • W-1.2: Reduce Outdoor Water Use
    • Reduce outdoor water use in new and existing residential and non-residential landscaping 40% from 2014 levels.     *Approximately 24% reduction in residential and 7% reduction in non-residential from today's levels. 
  • A-2.1: Increase Residential Tree Planting
    • Require two trees be planted for each new single-family residence. 

This effort will include updates to the County's Water Efficient Landscape Design Manual that will include information on water conservation strategies such as using recycled water and greywater to irrigate drought-tolerant and native landscaping. 

This project is expected to go to the Planning Commission in late spring and the Board of Supervisors in the summer of 2020. 

Agriculture and Conservation

Landscape Ordinance Background: 

The County’s Landscape Ordinance is as effective as the State’s Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) which establishes water efficiency standards for new and existing landscapes. The ordinance applies to any new construction for which the County issues a building permit or a discretionary review where the aggregate landscaped area is 500 square feet or more to obtain outdoor water use authorization. For those projects between 500 and 2,500 square feet, the County has a more streamlined process called the Prescriptive Compliance Option.

Outdoor water use budgets can be calculated using the Water Efficient Landscape Worksheet (PDS-405) for landscaping projects greater than 2,500 square feet, or the Water Use Application Using Prescriptive Compliance Option (PDS-410) for landscaping projects from 500-2,500 square feet.

The Water Efficient Landscape Design Manual explains how people can comply with the County’s Landscape Ordinance and how to create beautiful landscapes while using water efficiently and protecting people and properties from wildfires. We've also included several links to find more information about a host of subjects, from water, to water-friendly plants and landscaping, to County regulations and guidelines.