Expands Green Building Guidelines
By Jorge Casuso
April 14 -- In an effort to make Santa Monica more sustainable,
the City Council last week expanded its green guidelines to all
new buildings, including single family homes, but not without a
The new law, approved Tuesday on first reading, would require the owners of
all new buildings in the city and those undergoing substantial renovations to
use at least five green construction materials and submit a sustainable checklist,
as well as landscape and irrigation plans.
The ordinance also restricts the area taken up by turfgrass – or lawns
– to 20 percent of the landscaped area, encourages the use of draught
resistant plants and restricts the size of water features, such as fountains
and ponds, to 25 square feet.
Under the ordinance, pools, spas and whirlpools, as well as car washes and
laundries, must use solar collectors to heat water and distribute it through
thermally insulated piping.
Council members lauded the ordinance as a step towards making the already sustainable
beachside city even greener.
“We’re making a serious aesthetic change,” said Council member
“The idea is to get the community comfortable with a new way of thinking,
a new paradigm,” said Mayor Pro Tem Richard Bloom.
But Council member Bob Holbrook objected to the restrictions placed by the
new law, saying it would result in landscapes that resembled “a moonscape
with a couple of cactus.
“I don’t believe it’s necessary at this time to extend it
to single family homes,” Holbrook said.
“While I’m supportive of many of the goals,” he added, “I’m
afraid it will get messed up in the enforcement. I felt myself too confused.”
Responding to Holbrook’s concern that families “need to put something
out there kids can play on, staff noted that there are alternatives to grass
that would grow with the irrigation system required.
“We have to get real with the fact that there is a serious water shortage,”
Bloom said. “We have to consider what our practices are here.
“Southern California is an arid area where we have made the mistake of
planting like we’re in France,” Bloom said. “That has got
The new ordinance, which must be approved on second reading, also requires
that construction and demolition projects divert at least sixty
percent of all project-related materials in compliance with a sustainable
waste management plan approved by the City.