Jan. 15, 2010 is the day that the Los Angeles Board of Public Works enlisted the help of the development and business communities and homeowners to green L.A. and clean local rivers and beaches.
The cost of clean water is high and we all need to do our part to reduce runoff pollution. The newly adopted Low Impact Development ordinance is an equitable approach to reducing runoff and will help the city keep down the cost of compliance with water quality standards.
The board unanimously approved the draft LID ordinance, which requires 100% of the runoff generated from a three-quarter-inch storm at newly constructed homes, larger developments and certain redevelopments to be captured and reused or infiltrated on site. If compliance is infeasible on site, developers can pay a stormwater pollution mitigation fee to help pay for off-site public LID projects like green streets and alleys.
Support came from diverse parties, including the Green L.A. Coalition, the L.A. Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, NRDC, local business leaders, the Sierra Club, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, local developers, Heal the Bay, the Assn. of Professional Landscape Designers, the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, the Regional Water Board, neighborhood councils, TreePeople, local gardeners and many other individuals and environmental groups. An incredibly impressive group realizes that LID is a cost-effective way to reduce runoff pollution, augment local water supply, and green L.A.
The action occurred today despite opposition from the Building Industry Assn., VICA, a number of attorneys representing large developers, and the Central City Assn. The nearly identical complaints ranged from who is exempt from requirements (a two-year-plus grandfather clause was not enough for them) to a study on the nexus between the fees and the cost of off-site mitigation of runoff pollution. Numerous provisions were added to the ordinance to make it more business- and developer-friendly and to eliminate any burden to homeowners. Unfortunately, these changes did not result in support from BIA and VICA.
Major props to commissioners Paula Daniels and Cynthia Ruiz and Bureau of Sanitation leaders Adel Hagekhalil and Shahram Kharaghani for crafting the ordinance and meeting and negotiating repeatedly with every stakeholder group in town. The next step is City Council approval to move the ordinance to the City Attorney’s office, and then final approval by the council. The ordinance becomes effective six months after that, hopefully by no later than January 2011.
The new paradigm for development in Los Angeles is green building and Low Impact Development. Friday’s action marks a watershed moment for Los Angeles that will green L.A. one development at a time.