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Front yard lawns shrinking
Starting next month grass limit in place
HOME YARD1-6-4-15
If this home on a corner lot on South Manteca were built after July 21 it could not legally have as much lawn as it does in the side and front yards. - photo by HIME ROMERO

It’s not as drastic as in Las Vegas but the days of the expansive front lawns for new homes in  Manteca are numbered.

If the City Council next week adopts the second reading of an amendment to the residential landscape rules, then 30 days later any new home built in Manteca will have a mandatory cap on how much of the front yard can be covered in lawn as well as the side yard on corner lots.

That means starting July 23 no more than 25 percent of the required landscape area for front yards can be in grass. The same goes for side yards on corner lots.

All homes currently existing in Manteca would be grandfathered in and not subject to the limit on front and side yard turf.

“Required front yards” are established by setback. That means if you are talking about a residential lot has a 20-foot setback the “required yard” goes to that point. The “actual yard” refers to the area in the front yard that’s created when the residential structure and garage are placed back further than the setback requires. The “actual yard” then refers to the front yard that starts at the edge of the sidewalk and goes to the first building whether it is the garage or the house.

The area behind the setback that is also behind the front profile of part of the house/garage structure that is closest to the street is not defined as part of the front yard and is not subject to any limitations on what can and can’t be done in terms of landscaping. Typically that occurs in newer homes where the garage is closer to the street than the front door or porch.

Street side corner yards don’t have to be landscaped under existing city rules. The change means if landscaping is placed in such side yards no more than 25 percent of it can be turf.

At the same time the 25 percent cap for front yard landscaping doesn’t mean that it has to be planted in any turf. The ordnance simply states that the 35 portent area of the front yard that is required to be landscaped must use living plant material.

Manteca’s new rules stop short of Las Vegas. That city bans any lawn from being planted in the front yard of new homes. Las Vegas also restricts grass in side and rear yards to either 50 percent of the area or a 100 square feet — whichever is greater — with the max being 5,000 square feet. Grass is not allowed in nonresidential areas unless by special permit. The lone exceptions to that restriction are parks, schools, and cemeteries.