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City of San Mateo Municipal Code.


(a) For the efficient use of water, a landscape shall be carefully designed and planned for the intended function of the project. A landscape design plan meeting the following design criteria shall be submitted as part of the landscape documentation package:

(1) Any plant may be selected for the landscape, providing the estimated total water use in the landscape area does not exceed the maximum applied water allowance. Methods to achieve water efficiency shall include one or more of the following:

(i) Protection and preservation of native species and natural vegetation;

(ii) Selection of water-conserving plant, tree and turf species, especially local native plants;

(iii) Selection of plants based on local climate suitability, disease and pest resistance;

(iv) Selection of trees based on applicable local tree ordinances or tree shading guidelines, and size at maturity as appropriate for the planting area;

(v) Selection of plants from local and regional landscape program plant lists; and

(vi) Selection of plants from local Fuel Modification Plan Guidelines.

(2) Each hydrozone shall have plant materials with similar water use, with the exception of hydrozone with plants of mixed water use, as specified in Section 23.72.090.

(3) Plants shall be selected and planted appropriately based upon their adaptability to the climatic, geologic, and topographical conditions of the project site. Methods to achieve water efficiency shall include one or more of the following:

(i) Use the Sunset Western Climate Zone System which takes into account temperature, humidity, elevation, terrain, latitude, and varying degrees of continental and marine influence on local climate;

(ii) Recognize the horticultural attributes of plants (i.e., mature plant size, invasive surface roots) to minimize damage to property or infrastructure (e.g., buildings, sidewalks, power lines) and allow for adequate soil volume for healthy root growth;

(iii) Consider the solar orientation for plant placement to maximize summer share and winter solar gain.

(4) Turf is not allowed on slopes greater than 25% where the toe of the slope is adjacent to an impermeable hardscape and where 25% means one foot of vertical elevation change for every four feet of horizontal length (rise divided by run x 100 = slope percent).

(5) High water use plants, characterized by a plant factor of 0.7 to 1.0, are prohibited in street medians.

(6) A landscape design plan for projects in fire-prone areas shall address fire safety and prevention. A defensible space or zone around a building or structure is required per Public Resource Code Section 4291, subsections (a) and (b). Avoid fire-prone plant materials and highly flammable mulches. Refer to the local Fuel Modification Plan Guideline.

(7) The use of invasive plant species, such as those listed by the California Invasive Plant Council, is prohibited.

(8) The architectural guidelines of a common interest development, which include community apartment projects, condominiums, planned developments, and stock cooperative, shall not prohibit or include conditions that have the effect of prohibiting the use of low-water use plants as a group.

(b) Water Features.

(1) Recirculating water systems shall be used for water features.

(2) Where available, recycled water shall be used as a source for decorative water features.

(3) Surface area of a water feature shall be included in the high water use hydrozone area of the water budget calculation.

(4) Pool and spa covers are required on any newly constructed pool or spa.

(c) Soil Preparation, Mulch and Amendments.

(1) Prior to the planting of any materials, compacted soils shall be transformed to a friable condition. On engineered slopes, only amended planting holes need meet this requirement.

(2) Soil amendments shall be incorporated according to recommendations of the soil report.

(3) For landscape installations, compost at a rate of minimum of four cubic yards per 1,000 square feet of permeable area shall be incorporated to a depth of six inches into the soil. Soils with greater than six percent organic matter in the top six inches of soil are exempt from adding compost and tilling.

(4) A minimum three-inch layer of mulch shall be applied on all exposed soil surfaces of planting areas except in turf areas, creeping or rooting groundcovers, or direct seeding applications where mulch is contraindicated. To provide habitat for beneficial insects and other wildlife, up to five percent of the landscape area may be left without mulch. Designated insect habitat must be included in the landscape design plan.

(5) Stabilizing mulching products shall be used on slopes that meet current engineering standards.

(6) The mulching portion of the seed/mulch slurry to hydro-seeded applications shall meet the mulching requirement.

(7) Organic mulch made from recycled or post-consumer materials shall take precedence over inorganic materials or virgin forest products unless the recycled post-consumer organic products are not locally available. Organic mulches are not required where prohibited by local Fuel Modification Plan Guidelines or other applicable local ordinances.

(d) The landscape design plan, at a minimum, shall:

(1) Delineate and label each hydrozone by number, letter, or other method;

(2) Identify each hydrozone as low, moderate, high water, or mixed water use. Temporarily irrigated areas of the landscape shall be included in the low water use by hydrozone for the water budget calculation;

(3) Identify recreational areas;

(4) Identify areas permanently and solely dedicated to edible plants;

(5) Identify areas irrigated with recycled water;

(6) Identify type of mulch and application depth;

(7) Identify soil amendments, type, and quantity,

(8) Identify type and surface area of water features;

(9) Identify hardscape (pervious and non-pervious);

(10) Identify location, installation details, and 24-hour retention or infiltration capacity of any applicable stormwater best management practices that encourage on-site retention and infiltration of stormwater;

(11) Identify any applicable rain harvesting or catchment technologies as discussed in Section 23.72.150 and their 24-hour retention or infiltration capacity;

(12) Identify any applicable graywater discharge piping, system components and area(s) of distribution;

(13) Contain the following statement: "I have complied with the criteria of the ordinance and applied them for the efficient use of water in the landscape design plan"; and

(14) Bear the signature of a licensed landscape architect, licensed landscape contractor, or any other person authorized to design a landscape. (See Sections 5500.1, 5615, 5641, 5641.1, 5641.2, 5641.3, 5641.4, 5641.5, 5641.6, 6701, 7027.5 of the Business and Professions Code, Section 832.27 of Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations, and Section 6721 of the Food and Agriculture Code.)