Rules proposed to limit lawns of new homes to no more than 25 percent of the 35 percent of the required landscaping area for the front yard will not apply to existing homes.
Should the Manteca Planning Commission Tuesday recommend approval of the new rule to reduce future water consumption of new homes and it is also adopted by the City Council, staff said existing homes will become legal non-conforming uses.
That means if existing home owners opt to let their front yard lawns die for the duration of the drought they will not have to comply with new rules capping lawn sizes when they go to restore their yards.
It is much like other rules regarding home setbacks and such that have been adopted over the years and have changed the face of Manteca. New rules put in place for newer neighborhoods through the zoning code don’t apply to existing neighborhoods when they are adopted.
The Planning Commission meets Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.
The commission at the last meeting postponed voting on the new law rules for new homes until some points including how it impacts existing homes could be clarified.
Staff also has noted it only applies to front yards and not side yards of corner lots.
Among the concerns brought up by the Planning Commission at their previous meeting:
uCan river rock be used in the 35 percent area of a front yard that must be landscaped? Staff has noted the proposed ordinance amendment clearly states it must permeable to allow water to soak into the ground instead of runoff into the gutter. That is due to the need to reduce storm run-off. River rock could be used as long as water can still seep into the ground. If a solid plastic tarp is placed beneath the river rock, it is not permeable.
uCould artificial turf be used on the remaining 75 percent of the required landscaping even though the proposed ordinance states it must include the use of live plant material?
The proposed language also states that it must be live plant material with an emphasis on low-water use vegetation.
The question about artificial turf could prove problematic under existing city ordinances. If it is allowed and is installed in large amounts, it doesn’t necessarily eliminate water use. In order to keeping it clean whether it is from dirt or pet urine when it gets dirty it has to be hosed down with water. The city’s drought rules clearly prohibit the hosing down of driveways, patios, and sidewalks with water but it makes no mention of artificial turf.