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New Environmentally-Friendly Purchasing Policy Could Uproot Piedmont's Old Plantings

The policy favors perennials over annuals.

From coffee cups to patrol cars, city staff will now be compelled to buy the environmentally friendly product whenever it is both effective and economical, according to a new policy adopted unanimously by City Council Monday.

While swapping out virgin paper for recycled is not so controversial, swapping impatiens for seaside daisies could be, and the environmentally preferable purchasing policy does extend to landscaping.

Choosing native and drought-tolerant plants, as the policy suggests, could mean less trimming of shrubs and mowing of grass and therefore cost savings for the city, said Assistant City Planner Kevin Jackson. But Councilman Jeff Wieler worried about the policy's suggestion that perennials be selected over annuals, "for color."

"That's completely contrary to the landscaping that we've done in our main park, and our medians and traffic islands," Wieler said. "Frankly one of the great things about Piedmont is the seasonal color."

Piedmont already has an ordinance on the books pledging to comply with Bay-Friendly Landscaping practices, which preference sustainable and low-water plants, for municipal projects costing $100,000 or more. City Administrator Geoff Grote assured Wieler that the new purchasing policy, which reiterates compliance with Bay-Friendly practices, wouldn't be the end of Piedmont's horticultural traditions.

"I wouldn't read this … as Piedmont's not going to do annuals anymore," Grote said. "I would like to use as much perennials as possible, but the truth of it is annuals are part of our tradition, they are part of our parks system."

The council said Monday it would consult with the Park Commission, which is responsible for maintaining Piedmont's aesthetic, on how to implement the landscaping sections of the environmental purchasing policy.

Carter Dunlap November 10, 2011 at 10:23 PM
Some how we have moved from some policy advisory suggestions to a City wide policy that takes 36 pages to lay out. If all these measures are common sense we don't need a document. Someone felt the need to include a paragraph called "Penalties for Noncompliance" - yet there aren't any, for now.

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