Chapter 18.50


18.50.010    Purpose.

18.50.020    Applicability.

18.50.025    Exemptions.

18.50.030    Definitions.

18.50.040    Compliance requirements.

18.50.050    Exceptions.

18.50.060    Submittals.

18.50.070    Determination of conforming installation.

18.50.080    Compliance verification.

18.50.090    Existing landscapes.

Prior legislation: Ord. 569.

18.50.010 Purpose.

It is the policy of the city of Palos Verdes Estates to promote water conservation. The water-efficient landscape standards detailed in this chapter are intended to promote water conservation while allowing the maximum possible flexibility in designing healthy, attractive, and cost-effective water-efficient landscapes. This chapter is intended to be at least as effective in conserving water as the model ordinance drafted by the California Department of Water Resources pursuant to Assembly Bill AB 1881. (Ord. 700 § 2 (Exh. 1), 2012; Ord. 695 § 3, 2010)

18.50.020 Applicability.

This chapter applies to:

A. All new development, as defined in this chapter, which proposes new or altered landscape area of two thousand five hundred square feet or more; and

B. All homeowner-provided or homeowner-hired landscaping projects for single-family residential projects which are subject to discretionary review by the city and propose new or altered landscape area of five thousand square feet or more.

In addition, all existing landscapes installed before January 1, 2010, which are over one contiguous acre in size are subject to the provisions of PVEMC 18.50.090. (Ord. 700 § 2 (Exh. 1), 2012; Ord. 695 § 3, 2010)

18.50.025 Exemptions.

Landscaping that is part of a registered historical site is exempt from this chapter. Cemeteries are exempt from compliance with all provisions of this chapter except PVEMC 18.50.040(D). (Ord. 700 § 2 (Exh. 1), 2012; Ord. 695 § 3, 2010)

18.50.030 Definitions.

A. “Automatic irrigation system” means an irrigation system that can be controlled without manual manipulation and which operates on a preset program.

B. “Evapotranspiration” or “ET” means the approximate summation of water losses through evaporation from soil and transpiration from the plants during a specified period of time.

C. “ETo” means the approximation of water loss expressed in inches per year from a field of four- to seven-inch-tall cool season grass that is not water stressed.

D. “ET adjustment factor” means a factor used to set an efficiency goal that when applied to ETo adjusts for plant factor and irrigation efficiency, two of the major influences upon the amount of water that needs to be applied to a landscape.

E. “Hydrozone” means a portion of the planting area having plants grouped according to water need.

F. “Irrigation system” means a complete connection of system components, including the water distribution network and the necessary irrigation equipment and downstream from the backflow prevention device.

G. “Landscape area” means all areas where new or altered landscaping is proposed as part of a new development proposal.

H. “Landscape plan” means design plans with a planting plan and irrigation plan, and plans with supporting detail sheets to include notes and/or specifications.

I. “New development” means a new building on a vacant site, an addition to an existing building on a site, a new building on a developed site, or a change in land use type that requires a discretionary permit from the city.

J. “Plant factor” means a factor that, when multiplied by the ETo, estimates the amount of water used by a given plant species.

K. “Planting area” means the parcel area less building pad(s), driveway(s), patio(s), deck(s), walkway(s) and parking area(s). Planting area includes water bodies (i.e., fountains, ponds, lakes) and natural areas.

L. “Special landscape area (SLA)” means park and recreational areas permanently and solely dedicated to edible plants such as orchards and vegetable gardens, and areas irrigated with recycled water that are subject to the MAWA with an ET adjustment factor not to exceed 1.0.

M. “Turf” means a groundcover surface of mowed grass with an irrigation water need of greater than thirty percent of the ETo.

N. “Water budget calculation” means the maximum annual applied water allowance, which shall be calculated using this formula:

MAWA = (ETo)(0.62)[0.7 x LA + 0.3 x SLA]

MAWA = Maximum applied water allowance (maximum gallons per year available for the project)

ETo = Reference evapotranspiration (44.2 inches per year for the city of Palos Verdes Estates)

0.7 = ET adjustment factor (as designated by the state of California)

LA = Landscape area (square feet, including SLA)

0.62 = Conversion factor (inches to gallons)

SLA = Special landscape area (square feet)

0.3 = The additional ET adjustment factor for the special landscape area

O. “Water wise plants” means those plants that are evaluated as needing moderate (forty to sixty percent of ETo), low (ten to thirty percent of ETo) and very low (less than ten percent of ETo) amounts of water as defined and listed by water use classifications of landscape species (WUCOLS) prepared by the University of California Cooperative Extension. Other sources of water wise plant classifications may be used if approved by the director.

P. “Weather-based irrigation controller” means an irrigation controller that automatically adjusts the irrigation schedule based on changes in the weather. (Ord. 700 § 2 (Exh. 1), 2012; Ord. 695 § 3, 2010)

18.50.040 Compliance requirements.

Applicants for new development proposing new or altered landscaping shall comply with each of the following requirements in the design, installation, and maintenance of the landscape area, unless an exception is granted pursuant to PVEMC 18.50.050:

A. Landscape Plan. Applicants shall submit a landscape plan depicting the landscape area and all existing landscaping to remain on the lot as determined by the director. Landscaping shall be designed to be irrigated at no more than 0.7 of the reference evapotranspiration (ETo) and shall not exceed the MAWA. The city reserves the right to modify plans in quantity and quality of the landscape to meet the requirements of this chapter.

B. Use of Turf and Water Wise Plants.

1. The landscape area of projects proposing exclusively commercial uses shall be designed without the use of turf and with one hundred percent water wise plants. Notwithstanding that requirement, projects may use turf where a specific turf type is proposed for any required bio-swale or bio-filter systems, or areas adjacent to pedestrian traffic where walking travel or crossings are expected. These walking areas would include corner lot locations or linear areas located along pedestrian routes.

2. Turf may be used in parkways where vehicle parking is permitted adjacent to the parkway curb. Where parking is not permitted adjacent to the parkway curb, the parkway shall be designed using one hundred percent water wise plants.

3. The landscape area of single-family residential, multifamily residential, mixed use, and institutional use projects shall be designed with no more than forty percent of the landscaped area in turf or plants that are not water wise plants. Approved turf parkways shall not be counted toward the forty percent turf limitation.

4. Turf is not permitted in medians or parking lot landscape finger planters.

5. Turf shall not be used on slopes of twenty percent (five to one) or greater within the landscape area.

6. Additional turf areas may be approved by the city for areas designed and used for outdoor sporting and recreational activities, or for an approved functional use. Approved turf areas may be watered at 1.0 of the reference evapotranspiration (ETo).

C. Mulch. The landscape area, except those portions of the landscape area planted in turf, shall be covered with mulch material to an average thickness of at least three inches throughout. In areas with groundcovers planted from flats, mulch shall be installed to an average thickness of one and one-half inches. Additional mulch material shall be added from time to time as necessary in order to maintain the required depth of mulch.

D. Irrigation. All new or altered irrigation systems proposed as part of a new development shall incorporate the following requirements in their design, installation and maintenance:

1. Irrigation systems shall be designed and installed to avoid overspray and runoff into public streets. Valves shall be separated for individual hydrozones based on plant water needs and sun or shade requirements.

2. Water budget calculations shall be shown on irrigation plans.

3. An automatic irrigation system is required and shall include a weather-based irrigation controller, including a rain shutoff sensor.

4. Areas less than eight feet wide shall be irrigated with appropriately selected equipment that provides the proper amount of water coverage without causing overspray onto adjacent surfaces.

5. All sprinklers shall have matched precipitation rates within each valve and circuit. All irrigation systems shall be designed to include optimum distribution uniformity, head to head spacing, and setbacks from walkways and pavement.

6. All irrigation systems shall provide check valves at the low end of irrigation lines to prevent unwanted draining of irrigation lines.

7. Pressure regulators may be required on the irrigation system as determined by the director. (Ord. 700 § 2 (Exh. 1), 2012; Ord. 695 § 3, 2010)

18.50.050 Exceptions.

Exceptions to these water-efficient landscape standards may be granted by the director upon a finding, based on substantial evidence, that the exceptions will promote equivalent or greater water conservation than is provided for in these standards. Requests for exceptions shall be in writing and shall be submitted to the director at the time the application is submitted to the city for review. Requests for exceptions must be accompanied by documentary evidence supporting the finding of equivalent or greater water conservation. (Ord. 700 § 2 (Exh. 1), 2012; Ord. 695 § 3, 2010)

18.50.060 Submittals.

A. Applicants shall provide all relevant information on the landscape plan including botanical names for plants and turf species; container sizes; percentage calculations of allowable areas of turf; low, medium or high water use plants and water wise plants; water budget calculations; monthly irrigation schedule; and specific requests for any exceptions to the requirements of this chapter. Areas of existing landscaping to remain unaltered shall be indicated on the landscape plan.

B. The landscape plan shall be prepared in accordance with the provisions of the California Business and Professions Code relating to the practice of landscape architecture (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 5641 et seq.).

C. The landscape plan shall include a statement of compliance in a form approved by the director certifying that the landscape design complies with the mandatory elements of this chapter. The statement of compliance shall be signed by the person who prepared the landscape plan and include the person’s license number and/or professional stamp. (Ord. 700 § 2 (Exh. 1), 2012; Ord. 695 § 3, 2010)

18.50.070 Determination of conforming installation.

The person who prepared the landscape plan shall inspect the installation of the landscaping and any irrigation system included in the plan and shall certify in writing to the director that the installation substantially conforms to the approved landscape plan (a “certification of conforming installation”) prior to a final landscape inspection or issuance of a permanent certificate of occupancy. The certification of conforming installation shall be signed by the person who prepared the landscape plan and include the person’s license number and/or professional stamp. (Ord. 700 § 2 (Exh. 1), 2012; Ord. 695 § 3, 2010)

18.50.080 Compliance verification.

Verification of compliance with this chapter, as applicable, shall be made by the director in accordance with the following requirements:

A. No building permit shall be issued unless the statement of compliance required by PVEMC 18.50.060(C) has been included on the final landscape plan submitted for plan check approval.

B. No building permit shall be given a final landscape inspection or issued a permanent certificate of occupancy until the director receives a certification of conforming installation as required by PVEMC 18.50.070. (Ord. 700 § 2 (Exh. 1), 2012; Ord. 695 § 3, 2010)

18.50.090 Existing landscapes.

A. The following provisions apply to all existing landscapes referenced in PVEMC 18.50.020:

1. For landscapes served by a single water meter, the city may require any or all of the following: irrigation water use analyses, irrigation surveys, and irrigation audits to evaluate water use and to provide recommendations as necessary to reduce landscape water use to a level that does not exceed the maximum applied water allowance for existing landscapes. The maximum applied water allowance for existing landscapes shall be calculated as:

MAWA = (0.8) (ETo) (LA) (0.62).

All landscape irrigation audits shall be conducted by a certified landscape irrigation auditor.

2. For landscapes that do not have a meter, the city may require any or all of the following: irrigation surveys and irrigation audits to evaluate water use and to provide recommendations as necessary to prevent water waste. All landscape irrigation audits shall be conducted by a certified landscape irrigation auditor.

B. Existing irrigation systems shall be adjusted and calibrated to prevent overspray and runoff into public streets. (Ord. 700 § 2 (Exh. 1), 2012; Ord. 695 § 3, 2010)