Chapter 7.30


7.30.010    Definitions.

7.30.020    Purpose.

7.30.030    Applicability.

7.30.040    Implementation procedures.

7.30.050    Landscape water use standards.

7.30.060    Enforcement and administration.

7.30.070    Civil actions.

7.30.080    Recovery of costs.

7.30.090    Conflicting provisions.

7.30.010 Definitions.

Except where the context clearly indicates otherwise, the following words, terms, and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section:

“Association” means a nonprofit corporation or unincorporated association created for the purpose of managing a common interest development.

“Budget-based tiered-rate structure” means a structure of tiered or block rates for irrigation accounts charged by the retail local water purveyor in which the block definition for each customer is derived from lot size or irrigated area, and the evapotranspiration requirements of landscaping.

“Certificate of completion” means the certificate required to be completed and submitted to the city certifying that the landscape project has complied with the provisions of the water efficient landscape regulations contained in this chapter and the guidelines.

“Common interest development” means a community apartment project, condominium project, planned development, and stock cooperative per California Civil Code Section 1351.

“Ecological restoration project” means a project where the site is intentionally altered to establish a defined, indigenous, historic ecosystem.

“Enforcement officer” means any employee or agent of the city authorized to enforce the provisions of this code as designated in writing by the city.

“Estimated applied water use” means the average annual total amount of water estimated to be necessary to keep plants in a healthy state, calculated as provided in the guidelines. It is based on the reference evapotranspiration rate, the size of the landscaped area, plant water use factors, and the relative irrigation efficiency of the irrigation system.

“ET adjustment factor” or “ETAF” means a factor of 0.55 for residential areas and 0.45 for nonresidential areas that, when applied to reference evapotranspiration, adjusts for plant factors and irrigation efficiency, two major influences upon the amount of water that needs to be applied to the specific landscaped area. The ETAF for new and existing (nonrehabilitated) special landscape areas shall not exceed 1.0. The ETAF for existing nonrehabilitated landscapes is 0.8.

“Grading and excavation code” means Chapter 13.08 AVMC.

“Graywater” means untreated wastewater that has not been contaminated by any toilet discharge, has not been affected by infectious, contaminated, or unhealthy bodily wastes, and does not present a threat from contamination by unhealthful processing, manufacturing, or operating wastes. Graywater includes, but is not limited to, wastewater from bathtubs, showers, bathroom washbasins, clothes washing machines, and laundry tubs, but does not include wastewater from kitchen sinks or dishwashers.

“Guidelines” means the guidelines for implementation of the water efficient landscape regulations, as adopted by the city, which describes the procedures, calculations, and requirements for landscape projects subject to this chapter.

“Hardscape” means any durable material or feature (pervious and nonpermeable) installed in or around a landscaped area, such as pavements or walls. Hardscape does not include pools and other water features which are considered part of the landscaped area.

“Irrigation efficiency” means the measurement of the amount of water beneficially used divided by the amount of water applied. Irrigation efficiency is derived from measurements and estimates of irrigation system characteristics and management practices. The minimum average irrigation efficiency for purposes of this chapter is 0.75 for overhead spray devices and 0.81 for drip systems.

“Landscape documentation package” means the package of documents that a project applicant is required to submit to the city pursuant to Section 2.1 of the guidelines.

“Landscape professional” means a licensed landscape architect, licensed landscape contractor, or any other person authorized to design a landscape pursuant to California Business and Professions Code Sections 5500.1, 5615, 5641, 5641.1, 5641.2, 5641.3, 5641.4, 5641.5, 5641.6, 6701 and 7027.5, California Code of Regulations Title 16, Section 832.27, and California Food and Agricultural Code Section 6721.

“Landscape project” means the total area of landscape in a project as provided in the definition of “landscaped area” meeting the requirements under AVMC 7.30.030(A).

“Landscape submittal sheet” means the documents required to be provided to the city for review and approval of landscape design projects, as described in the guidelines.

“Landscaped area” means all the planting areas, turf areas, and water features in a landscape design plan subject to the maximum applied water allowance and estimated applied water use calculations. The landscaped area does not include footprints of buildings or structures, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, decks, patios, gravel or stone walks, other pervious or nonpermeable hardscapes, and other nonirrigated areas designated for nondevelopment, such as open spaces and existing native vegetation.

“Local agency” means a city or county, including a charter city or charter county, that is authorized by the city to implement, administer, and/or enforce any of the provisions of this chapter on behalf of the city. The local agency may be responsible for the enforcement or delegation of enforcement of this chapter, including, but not limited to, design review, plan check, issuance of permits and inspection of a landscape project.

“Local water purveyor” means any entity, including a public agency, city, county, or private water company that provides retail water service within the city.

“Maximum applied water allowance” or “MAWA” means the upper limit of annual applied water for the established landscaped area as specified in Section 2.2 of the guidelines. It is based upon the area’s reference evapotranspiration, the ET adjustment factor, and the size of the landscaped area. The estimated applied water use shall not exceed the MAWA.

“Mined-land reclamation projects” means any surface mining operation with a reclamation plan approved in accordance with the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1975.

“New construction,” for the purposes of this chapter, means a new building with a landscape or other new landscape such as a park, playground, or greenbelt without an associated building.

“Nonpermeable” means any surface or natural material that does not allow for the passage of water through the material and into the underlying soil.

“Nonresidential landscape” means landscapes in commercial, institutional, industrial, and public settings that may have area designated for recreation or public assembly. It also includes portions of common areas of common interest developments with designated recreational areas.

“Permit” means an authorizing document issued by the city for new construction or rehabilitated landscape.

“Person” means any natural person, firm, joint venture, joint stock company, partnership, public or private association, club, company, corporation, business trust, organization, public or private agency, government agency or institution, school district, college, university, any other user of water provided by the city, or the manager, lessee, agent, servant, officer or employee of any of them or any other entity which is recognized by law as the subject of rights or duties.

“Pervious” means any surface or material that allows the passage of water through the material and into the underlying soil.

“Plant factor” or “plant water use factor” means a factor, when multiplied by ETo, that estimates the amount of water needed by plants. For purposes of this chapter, the plant factor range for very low water use plants is 0 to 0.1, the plant factor range for low water use plants is 0.1 to 0.3, the plant factor range for moderate water use plants is 0.4 to 0.6, and the plant factor range for high water use plants is 0.7 to 1.0. Plant factors cited in this chapter are derived from the Department of Water Resources 2000 publication “Water Use Classification of Landscape Species,” as it may be amended from time to time. Plant factors may also be obtained from horticultural researchers from academic institutions or professional associations as approved by the Department.

“Plant palette” means the list of low water use plant materials authorized to be used in all public and private improvement projects within the city.

“Recreational area” means areas, excluding private single-family residential areas, designated for active play, recreation or public assembly in parks, sports fields, picnic grounds, amphitheaters or golf course tees, fairways, roughs, surrounds and greens.

“Recycled water” or “reclaimed water” means treated or recycled wastewater of a quality suitable for nonpotable uses such as landscape irrigation and water features, and which is not intended for human consumption.

“Reference evapotranspiration” or “ETo” means a standard measurement of environmental parameters which affect the water use of plants. ETo is expressed in inches per day, month, or year as represented in Appendix A of the guidelines, and is an estimate of the evapotranspiration of a large field of four-to-seven-inch tall, cool-season grass that is well watered. Reference evapotranspiration is used as the basis of determining the maximum applied water allowances.

“Rehabilitated landscape” means any relandscaping project that meets the applicability criteria of AVMC 7.30.030(A).

“Residential landscape” means landscapes surrounding single or multifamily homes.

“Responsible person” is any of the following:

1. A person who causes a code violation to occur.

2. A person who maintains or allows a code violation to continue, by his or her action or failure to act.

3. A person whose agent, employee, or independent contractor causes a code violation by his/her action or failure to act.

4. A person who is the owner of, and a person who is a tenant, lessee or sublessee with the current right of possession of, real property where a code violation occurs.

5. A person who is the on-site manager of a business who normally works daily at the site when the business is open and is responsible for the activities at such premises for code violations occurring at such site.

6. A person who is the beneficiary under a deed of trust for the property where a code violation exists and that person has not corrected the violation within 30 days after being notified by the city in writing of the violation and the fact that the trustor under the deed of trust is no longer living on the property and his or her whereabouts are unknown.

7. There may be more than one responsible person for a violation.

“Smart automatic irrigation controller” means an automatic timing device used to remotely control valves that operate an irrigation system and which schedules irrigation events using either evapotranspiration (weather-based) or soil moisture data.

“Special landscaped area” means an area of the landscape dedicated solely to edible plants such as orchards and vegetable gardens, recreation areas, areas irrigated with recycled water, and water features using recycled water.

“State” means the state of California.

“State Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance” means the model ordinance prepared, adopted and revised by the California Department of Water Resources in accordance with California Government Code Sections 65591 and following, and Executive Order B-29-15.

“Turf” means a ground cover surface of mowed grass. Annual bluegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, Perennial ryegrass, Red fescue, and Tall fescue are cool-season grasses. Bermuda grass, Kikuyugrass, Seashore Paspalum, St. Augustinegrass, Zoysiagrass, and Buffalo grass are warm-season grasses.

“Valve” means a device used to control the flow of water in an irrigation system.

“Water feature” means a design element where open water performs an aesthetic or recreational function. Water features include ponds, lakes, waterfalls, fountains, artificial streams, spas, and swimming pools where water is artificially supplied. The surface area of water features is included in the high water use hydrozone of the landscaped area. Constructed wetlands used for on-site wastewater treatment, habitat protection or stormwater best management practices that are not irrigated and used solely for water treatment or stormwater retention are not water features and, therefore, are not subject to the water budget calculation.

“Water quality ordinance” means Chapter 7.35 AVMC.

“Watering window” means the time of day irrigation is allowed pursuant to any applicable city, regional, state, or local water purveyor water conservation or drought response laws, rules, policies, or regulations.

All words or terms that are not otherwise defined herein shall have the meaning as set forth in the guidelines for implementation of the water efficient landscape regulations. [Ord. 2015-171 § 2; Ord. 2009-119 § 2 (4-5-40)].

Cross-reference: definitions generally, AVMC 1.02.010.

7.30.020 Purpose.

A. The State Legislature has found and determined that:

1. The waters of the state are of limited supply and are subject to ever increasing demands;

2. The continuation of California’s economic prosperity is dependent on the availability of adequate supplies of water for future uses;

3. It is the policy of the state to promote conservation and efficient use of water and to prevent the waste or unreasonable use or unreasonable method of use of this valuable resource;

4. Landscapes are essential to the quality of life in California by providing areas for active and passive recreation and as an enhancement to the environment by cleaning air and water, preventing erosion, offering fire protection, and replacing ecosystems lost to development; and

5. Landscape design, installation, maintenance, and management can and should be water efficient.

6. California Constitution Article X, Section 2 specifies that the right to use water is limited to the amount reasonably required for beneficial use to be served, and the right does not and shall not extend to the waste or unreasonable use or unreasonable method of use of water.

B. The city hereby finds and determines that:

1. The city, as well as the county, have established reclaimed water infrastructure systems;

2. Allocation based and tiered water rate structures imposed by local water purveyors within the city allow local water purveyors to document water use in landscapes;

3. Incentive based water use efficiency programs are offered and utilized in the city and are effective means of conserving water;

4. Although the city’s existing design requirements and practices for the installation and maintenance of landscaping, including, but not limited to, the city’s general plan and conservation/open space element, plant palette requirements, water quality code, grading and excavation code, landscape submittal sheet requirements, requirements for submittal of tentative maps, and other provisions of the code governing land use and development achieve or are at least as effective as the State Model Ordinance in conserving water, the city has determined to adopt its own water efficient landscape ordinance and regulations to further reduce the quantity of water used by persons within its jurisdiction for the purpose of reducing the waste associated with irrigation of outdoor landscaping and conserving water in the interest of the people and the public welfare;

5. All water services within the city are metered and billed based on volume of use;

6. All new irrigation controllers installed within the city after January 1, 2012, shall be smart automatic irrigation controllers;

7. Local water purveyors have an extensive water efficiency rebate program, including a robust turf replacement program;

8. Landscape plan submittal and review is currently required for all new development and new construction within the city;

9. The average rainfall in Orange County is approximately 12 inches per year; and

10. Local water purveyors in the city have developed economic incentives in their water rate structure designs that promote efficient water use and have adopted urban water management plans that address water supply, treatment, reclamation, water conservation, and water shortage contingency plans for water use within the city.

C. Consistent with these findings, the purpose of the city’s water efficient landscape regulations contained in this chapter is to establish an alternative water efficient landscape ordinance that is at least as effective as the State Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance in the context of conditions in the city, in order to:

1. Promote the benefits of consistent landscape ordinances with neighboring local and regional agencies;

2. Promote the values and benefits of landscapes while recognizing the need to invest water and other resources as efficiently as possible;

3. Establish a structure for planning, designing, installing, and maintaining and managing water efficient landscapes in new construction, new development, and rehabilitated landscape projects;

4. Establish provisions for water management practices and water waste prevention for existing landscapes;

5. Use water efficiently without waste by setting a maximum applied water allowance as an upper limit for water use and reduce water use to the lowest practical amount; and

6. Encourage the use of economic incentives that promote the efficient use of water, such as the use of a budget-based tiered-rate structure by local water purveyors. [Ord. 2015-171 § 2; Ord. 2009-119 § 2 (4-5-41)].

7.30.030 Applicability.

A. Beginning December 1, 2015, this chapter shall apply to the following:    

1. All new construction projects with an aggregate landscaped area equal to or greater than 500 square feet that require a building or landscape permit, plan check, or design review;

2. All rehabilitated landscape projects with an aggregate landscape area equal to or greater than 2,500 square feet that require a building or landscape permit, plan check, or design review.

B. The requirements of this chapter and the guidelines may be partially or wholly waived, at the discretion of the city or its designee, for rehabilitated landscape projects that are limited to replacement plantings with equal or lower water needs, where the irrigation system is found to be designed, operable and programmed consistent with minimizing water waste in accordance with local water purveyor regulations.

C. New construction or rehabilitated landscape projects that use treated or untreated graywater or rainwater capture on site, any lot or parcel within the project that has less than 2,500 square feet of landscaped area and meets the lot or parcel’s landscape water requirement (estimated total water use) entirely with treated or untreated graywater or through stored rainwater capture on site is subject only to Appendix D, Section 5 of the State Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance.

D. Any landscape project with an aggregate landscaped area of 2,500 square feet or less may comply with the requirements of this chapter by complying with Appendix D of the State Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance.

E. This chapter does not apply to:

1. Registered local, state, or federal historical sites;

2. Ecological restoration projects that do not require a permanent irrigation system;

3. Mined-land reclamation projects that do not require a permanent irrigation system;

4. Existing plant collections, as part of botanical gardens and arboretums open to the public;

5. Cemeteries, except that Sections 2.2, 2.8 and 2.9 of the guidelines apply to new construction or rehabilitated landscape projects at cemeteries. [Ord. 2015-171 § 2; Ord. 2009-119 § 2 (4-5-42)].

7.30.040 Implementation procedures.

A. Prior to installation, a landscape submittal sheet and landscape documentation package shall be submitted to the city for review and approval of all landscape projects subject to the provisions of this chapter. Any landscape submittal sheet and landscape documentation package submitted to the city shall comply with the provisions of the guidelines.

B. The landscape documentation package shall include a certification by a landscape professional appropriately licensed in the state, stating that the landscape design and water use calculations have been prepared by or under the supervision of the licensed professional and are certified to be in compliance with the provisions of this chapter and the guidelines.

1. Landscape and irrigation plans shall be submitted to the city for review and approval with appropriate water use calculations.

2. Verification of compliance of the landscape installation with the approved plans shall be obtained through a certificate of completion in conjunction with a certificate of use and occupancy or permit final process, as provided in the guidelines. [Ord. 2015-171 § 2; Ord. 2009-119 § 2 (4-5-43)].

7.30.050 Landscape water use standards.

A. For new construction or rehabilitated landscape projects subject to AVMC 7.30.030(A), the estimated applied water use allowed for the landscaped area shall not exceed the MAWA calculated using an ET adjustment factor of 0.55 for residential areas and 0.45 for nonresidential areas, except for special landscaped areas where the MAWA is calculated using an ET adjustment factor of 1.0; or the design of the landscaped area shall otherwise be shown to be equivalently water-efficient in a manner acceptable to the city; as provided in the guidelines.

B. Irrigation of all landscaped areas shall be conducted in a manner conforming to the rules, regulations, and requirements, including any established watering windows, and subject to the penalties and incentives for water conservation and water waste prevention, as determined and implemented by the city, the applicable local water purveyor, the state, regional agency, or as mutually agreed to by the local water purveyor and the city. [Ord. 2015-171 § 2; Ord. 2009-119 § 2 (4-5-44)].

7.30.060 Enforcement and administration.

A. The city manager is authorized to administer and enforce the provisions of this chapter. Any city authorized personnel or enforcement officers may exercise any enforcement powers as set forth in the code.

B. The city may delegate to, or enter into a contract with, a local agency or other person to implement and administer any of the provisions of this chapter on behalf of the city. [Ord. 2015-171 § 2; Ord. 2009-119 § 2 (4-5-45)].

7.30.070 Civil actions.

A. In addition to any other remedies provided in the code, any violation of this chapter may be enforced by civil action brought by the city.

B. In any such action, the city may seek, and the court may grant, as appropriate, any or all of the following remedies:

1. A temporary and/or permanent injunction;

2. Assessment of the violator for the costs of any investigation which led to the establishment of the violation and for the reasonable costs of preparing and bringing legal action under this chapter;

3. Any other costs incurred in enforcing the provisions of this chapter; and

4. Any other action the city deems appropriate to protect the general welfare and the city’s water supplies, and to reduce water consumption in accordance with this chapter and the declared policies and laws of the state.

C. Assessments under this section shall be paid to the city to be used exclusively for costs associated with implementing or enforcing the water efficient landscape regulatory provisions of this chapter. [Ord. 2015-171 § 2; Ord. 2009-119 § 2 (4-5-46). Formerly 7.30.080].

Cross-reference: violations and penalties generally, Chapter 1.06 AVMC.

7.30.080 Recovery of costs.

A. The city manager or his or her designee shall serve an invoice for costs upon the person or responsible person who is subject to a notice of violation, a cease and desist order, or an administrative compliance order. An invoice for costs shall be immediately due and payable to the city. If any person or responsible person fails to either pay the invoice for costs or appeal successfully the invoice for costs in accordance with this chapter, then the city may institute collection proceedings. The invoice for costs may include reasonable attorneys’ fees.

B. The city shall impose any other penalties or regulatory fees, as fixed from time to time by resolution of the city council, for a violation or enforcement of this chapter.

C. In addition to the costs which may be recovered pursuant to the code, and in order to recover the costs of the water efficient landscape regulatory program set forth in this chapter, the city council may, from time to time, fix and impose by resolution fees and charges. The fees and charges may include, but are not limited to, fees and charges for:

1. Any visits of an enforcement officer, or other city staff or authorized representative of the city, for time incurred for inspections of property;

2. Any monitoring, inspection, and surveillance procedures pertaining to enforcement of this chapter;

3. Enforcing compliance with any term or provision of this chapter;

4. Any other necessary and appropriate fees and charges to recover the cost of providing the city’s water efficient landscape regulatory program. [Ord. 2015-171 § 2; Ord. 2009-119 § 2 (4-5-47). Formerly 7.30.090].

7.30.090 Conflicting provisions.

If provisions of this chapter are in conflict with each other, other provisions of the code, the city’s general plan, any city adopted specific plan or master plan, any resolution or ordinance of the city, or any state law or regulation, the more restrictive provisions shall apply. [Ord. 2015-171 § 2; Ord. 2009-119 § 2 (4-5-48). Formerly 7.30.100].


Cross-references: storm drains, Chapter 7.40 AVMC; nuisances, AVMC 8.24.010; subdivision landscaping and screening, AVMC 14.10.150; residential landscaping and open area, AVMC 15.14.110; nonresidential landscaping and open area, AVMC 15.22.070; parking facility landscaping, AVMC 15.38.090; fire hazard regulations, AVMC 15.50.010.