Let It Rain!

Low Impact Development will be reality in L.A.

What a surprising way to end a two-year journey.  As rain fell outside City Hall on Friday morning, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the proposed Low Impact Development ordinance . . . on consent.  For more than a year, the Building Industry Assn., the Central City Assn. and others provided numerous objections on the LID ordinance. As a result, staff included a number of changes to accommodate developer concerns.

The measure now includes a grandfather clause to exempt most proposed development in the city approval pipeline.  Also, the “in lieu fee clause” option has been eliminated because it’s viewed as a fee rather than an alternative for developers to comply with the LID  requirements.  The proposed measure now includes a strict biofiltration option to be used if on-site LID approaches prove unfeasible.

With all of these changes and yet another pitch for greater exemptions for the LID regulations, the environmental community expected success at City Council, but not without a fight from the development community.

Continue reading

Paradise Regained?

A heavy crew: Wagner, Avalon and Hamilton

The city of Malibu cut the ribbon Monday on its new million-dollar runoff treatment facility in unique fashion.  Mayor Zuma Jay — Jefferson Wagner — paddled through the waves along with surfing icon Laird Hamilton to help launch the new plant, directly adjacent to Paradise Cove pier.  More than 100 people joined the festivities to celebrate clean water at the beach often known as Parasite Cove because of its chronically poor water quality.

Like any ribbon cutting, city council members and representatives from the offices of state and local elected officials pressed the flesh.  However, seeing the mayor paddle to the podium had to be a first for a municipal press conference in California, and maybe even nationally.

Continue reading

The Pelican Mystery

Sick brown pelicans at local rescue center

The International Bird Rescue Center has been overrun by starving pelicans this winter. Speculation about what’s sickening birds from Southern California to Oregon has ranged from El Nino conditions to climate change to polluted runoff.

The bottom line is that hundreds of Brown Pelicans have ended up sick and malnourished. Many birds stayed too long in the frigid coastal waters off Oregon and Northern California in search of fish prey that just weren’t present in high densities. By migrating late, many pelicans were buffeted by major storms and they didn’t build up the fat reserves to withstand the inclement weather.

Cal Fish and Game on Monday pegged the die off and strandings on starvation. But bird rescue volunteers and scientists have brought up the issue of polluted runoff, which can damage feathers and lead to hypothermia in the recently endangered birds.

Continue reading

A High Impact Ordinance

The L.A. Board of Public Works' LID ordinance is a giant step in the fight to reduce runoff pollution.

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. 

Continue reading

Victory in Ventura!

Ventura's new progressive stormwater permit bodes well for local wetlands

Ventura's new progressive stormwater permit bodes well for local wetlands and rivers

After a grueling and tense 12-hour hearing, the Southern California Regional Water Board last night approved a new stormwater permit for Ventura County on a 5-1 vote.  The permit follows over two years of contentious debate involving Ventura County, its muncipalities, the Building Industry Assn., the environmental community and the Regional Board.

Over the last year, Ventura County and all 11 of its cities negotiated a far-reaching agreement with Heal the Bay and the NRDC. The six-page pact was incorporated in to the permit during the board vote despite the strong opposition from Regional Board staff.  Here are the highlights: Continue reading