Yesterday [June 12] the Piedmont Civic Association (PCA) website posted an editorial accusing the city of "ceding local control" to StopWaste.org with its proposed Residential Bay-Friendly Ordinance. They've simply got it all wrong. The biggest PCA mistruth: "The future revisions to Piedmont law could occur without notice to Piedmont residents." Please read the following response, which I posted on the PCA website:
What’s more frightening, Piedmont gardens making strides toward reducing waste . . . or editorials riddled with falsehoods and scare tactics?
The author of this editorial — if he or she listened to the conversation between the City Council and Bay-Friendly Senior Program Manager Teresa Eade at the June 4 meeting — should clearly understand these FACTS:
In future years, the rules could NOT be broadened in scope without the proposal of an entirely new ordinance. Ms. Eade repeatedly encouraged the city to amend the proposed ordinance to address residents’ concerns about being required to adopt “the most recent” BF requirements. Instead she suggested it adopt the “current” policy, thereby eliminating the possibility of more stringent requirements being imposed. Piedmont keeps its Local Control.
When residents voiced (unfounded) concerns about BF requirements banning lawns and sheared hedges, Ms. Eade assuaged those worries. “Bay-Friendly is not anti-lawn,” she said, continuing that if a family wishes to install a lawn large enough for a volleyball net, Bay-Friendly would support that active use of turf. Acknowledging the common use of sheared hedges in the Piedmont landscape aesthetic, Ms. Eade suggested the city rewrite the ordinance to eliminate language that restricted shearing. Piedmont keeps its Local Control.
The suggestion that other East Bay cities have rejected adopting the ordinance due to staff time costs is apples to oranges. The city of Newark has a steady flow of newly constructed homes on large lots, which would require added staff time to monitor. Piedmont, on the other hand, has virtually none. (Note: Piedmont’s staff report states “StopWaste.Org has landscape architects on contract who provide design review and Bay-Friendly assessment for free.” Ms. Eade also reported that all other Alameda Counties cities but two have adopted the ordinance, and several chose to lower the threshold for residences to which it would apply.
Please note: Piedmont's proposed ordinance would only apply to newly constructed homes with more than 5,000 square feet of irrigated property, AND a landscape plan that requires a permit or design review. City Planner Kate Black reported that going back 2 years there were NO properties that would have met this threshold.
But why should Piedmont adopt any level of Bay-Friendly landscaping policy? Because it is incumbent upon the city to reduce its impact on the waste stream . . . and to set standards toward which its residents can strive. More than just conserving water, Bay-Friendly landscaping reduces the air and noise pollution of power tools; keeps pesticides, insecticides, synthetic fertilizers and plastics out of Lake Merritt and the Bay; and reduces the number of garbage truck trips carrying green waste across the county.
So, Piedmont, stop fretting! Bay-Friendly gardens can:
- have a lawn
- have sheared hedges
- have 25% water-loving plants (plus the lawn)
- have the remaining 75% of plants from ANYWHERE in the world, as long as they’re happy with occasional water in the summer
Just work in some compost, lay down 3″ of mulch, have a good irrigation controller and use drip irrigation on areas narrower than 8 feet. That’s it! You’re officially Bay Friendly!
And what about those plants? Could a Bay-Friendly Piedmont still have beautiful green gardens? Let me just say that, with the 9,000 plants in the new Sunset Western Garden Book, the possibilities are endless.
Editor's note: A revised version of the Bay-Friendly Landscaping Ordinance incorporating some of local residents' concerns is expected to be on the agenda for the Monday, June 18, Piedmont City Council meeting agenda. The agenda and related reports, including the revised pordinance, will be posted on the City of Piedmont website Thursday afternoon, June 14 (under "Agenda and Meeting Information" on the City Council page).