LID at Last in L.A.

Rain barrels will be sprouting up all over L.A. now under a newly approved Low Impact Development ordinance.

Today the city of Los Angeles took a giant step forward on its long-promised goal to green itself — one new development at a time.  After three years of negotiations, hearings, educational forums and technical discussions, the City Council voted 13-0 to support a Low Impact Development ordinance.

The vote means that nearly all new development and redevelopment in Los Angeles will have to treat rainwater as a resource rather than just a flood risk by early next summer.  The approach is groundbreaking (or concrete breaking) in its wide-ranging application to all significant new and redevelopment – even single family homes.

So what does it mean from a practical point of view?

All new and redevelopment must capture and reuse or infiltrate 100% of the runoff generated by a three-quarter inch rain. As a result, development will be greener, flood control risks and runoff pollution will be reduced, and local groundwater supplies will be augmented. Single family homes will only have to include rain barrels, cisterns, rain gutter downspout redirects to landscaping, or rain gardens to comply with the ordinance.

The Bureau of Sanitation has already taken the unprecedented step of issuing a technical guidance manual  so all developers, enviros, members of the public and councilmembers have the resource to understand how the ordinance will be implemented on a day-to-day basis.

If developers can’t technically comply with requirements on site, they can comply offsite with regional LID projects or green street LID efforts to capture and infiltrate runoff.

Challenges from the Building Industry Assn. and the Central City Assn. led to ordinance modifications that provided major breaks for developments already in the review pipeline. The BIA also succeeded in getting language that allows the use of onsite biofiltration (runoff is treated with vegetation and then released to the stormdrain) if LID techniques are infeasible.

The Department of Public Works, especially the Bureau of Sanitation, has shown strong leadership and perseverance on this critical issue. It’s to be commended for moving the city to a more integrated, natural approach to water policy, one that relies on watershed management.

Heal the Bay worked closely with former board of Public Works commissioner Paula Daniels and Bureau of Sanitation executives Adel Hagekhalil and Shahram Kharaghani to put together early drafts of the ordinance.

The LID ordinance also may prove to be one of biggest successes for the Green L.A. organization. The coalition of environmental groups, led by Stephanie Taylor, put an incredible amount of time and effort organizing wide-ranging environmental community support for the ordinance.

Bravo to all!

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One Response

  1. LID finally made it through! Yay!

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