Encinitas adopts state rules targeting lawns


To comply with new California rules, the Encinitas City Council on Feb. 10 updated local regulations to restrict how much water can be used on landscaping around newly constructed homes and buildings.

The state’s new Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance limits “high water use” landscaping such as grass to 25 percent of a new home’s landscaped area.

New houses with landscapes larger than 500 square feet fall under the new rules. Existing landscapes aren’t subject to the regulations, except for those homeowners who undertake a major renovation on a landscape larger than 2,500 square feet.

Also, the ordinance essentially bans grass from landscaping surrounding industrial and commercial buildings. Exemptions to the rules include areas with recycled water.

The new California rules also set new efficiency standards for irrigation systems, greywater usage and stormwater.

Responding to the ongoing drought, Gov. Jerry Brown last spring issued an executive order requiring that the Department of Water Resources revise the state’s Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance. Local jurisdictions are required to send in annual reports showing that they’re meeting state rules, which is expected to have a minimal city staff impact of 10 to 20 hours a year, according to a staff report accompanying the agenda item.

The agenda item was introduced to the council on Jan. 27 and passed unanimously at the Feb. 10 meeting on a second reading.