Residential Parkway Regulations to be Discussed at City Hall – TUESDAY May 28, 2013

Out with lawn grass strips, in with drought tolerant plantings and food gardens!

 

Parkway Regulations

 

Many Southern California cities are re-writing their residential parkway ordinances to be more in alignment with the environmental need for drought tolerance while creating a framework for aesthetics and ease of use. Now Culver City governance has Parkways on the agenda this coming TUESDAY, MAY 28, 2013 and you – yes you! – can be part of the conversation.

CULVER CITY PUBLIC MEETING TO DISCUSS
ADOPTION of a RESOLUTION ESTABLISHING
RESIDENTIAL PARKWAY STANDARDS
When:

TUESDAY, May 28th, 2013, 7pm

Where:
Culver City Council Chambers
9770 Culver Blvd., Culver City, 90232

From Culver City’s Official Public Notice of Meeting :

On Tuesday, May 28, 2013, the City Council is scheduled to consider the 1) Introduction of an ordinance related to the process for tree removals and the requirements for making modifications to parkways; and (2) Adoption of a resolution establishing Residential Parkway Standards. All members of the public are welcome to attend and participate in the discussion.

If you live locally and are reading this website, it is most likely you’ve already converted your parkway to something more environmentally friendly with an array of luxurious drought-happy plants and bushes. And perhaps you’re growing a patch of veggies there, or put a park bench and a winding path in your parkway to help build community in your neighborhood like City Repair has encouraged throughout Portland, Oregon. Or maybe you’ve even installed a Little Free Library to promote literacy & solidarity in your neighborhood! Well, it looks like all of this and more will be out-of-compliance and incurring permit fees and possible fines if the new regulations go through unchallenged.

SEE CULVER CITY’s new proposed ordinance here >>
(scroll to Agenda Item A-1)
NOTE: There’s also information on tree removal in the ordinance,
but the focus of this blogpost is on parkway landscaping.

Come deliver your 3 minutes of opinion in person to the council,
or if you can’t attend but wish to express your views,
write an email to the council
Please familiarize yourself with the actual 5/28 agenda item report
(just posted 5/22) so you’ll be up to date with the facts.

When you come to City Hall chambers, fill out a speaker’s card—ask for assistance if it’s your first time.

IN A NUTSHELL: The report drafted by staff is an amendment to a chapter of city municipal code pertinent to Parkway Planting Standards and Tree Removal Regulations & Ordinances. Exhibit C&D of the report includes a list of recommended plantings: 20 lawn alternatives (EXHIBIT C, no permit required) and 64 drought tolerant perennials & low bushes (EXHIBIT D, permit required)—nothing over 30 inches allowed. No edibles, no garden veggies, no fruit trees. And there’s hardscaping limitations too.  TO VIEW THE LIST of recommended plants which includes helpful color reference pictures, go to the 5/28/13 Agenda report, scroll to Item A-1, click on the underlined description, then click on the PDF of “Attachments” on the right, then scroll to “Exhibit D”… whew!

Too much work? Here’s some excerpts from the proposed ordinance:

§ 9.08.210—PLANTINGS, LANDSCAPING, HARDSCAPES OR OTHER ITEMS IN PARKWAYS: PERMIT REQUIRED

A.   No person shall plant any tree, plant, shrub, flower, vine, vegetable, grain, or other vegetation in or on any Parkway in the City without first obtaining a permit from the Public Works Director. Such permit shall state the variety, location and size of trees, plants and shrubs to be planted.

B.  No person shall install, construct, deposit, or maintain any stepping stones, pavers, brick, rock, concrete structure or any other item or obstacle in or on any Parkway within the City without first obtaining a permit from the Public Works Director. Such permit shall state the type and location of materials to be installed, constructed, deposited or maintained…

If we’ve read the report correctly, it says that, pending passage of this proposed ordinance and Standards, a processing application & inspection fee for a basic parkway permit (other than walkable plantings selected from the recommended list) of $151.50 will be enacted. We’re hoping for some clarification on this point.

Here’s more from the proposed Ordinance about code violations:

§ 9.08.230 — VIOLATIONS UNLAWFUL; PENALTIES; ADMINISTRATIVE COST RECOVERY

C.   A violation of any provision of this Subchapter is subject to a civil action brought by the City Attorney, punishable by a civil fine not less than one hundred dollars ($100) and not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) per violation for each day, or part thereof, such violation occurs.
D.  A violation of any provision of this Subchapter may, at the discretion of the City Attorney, be prosecuted as an infraction or misdemeanor and subject to the criminal penalties provided in Sections 1.01.040 and 1.01.045 of this Code…
F.  It is the intent of the City Council to recover the costs incurred by the City from: (1) enforcing and obtaining compliance with the provisions of this Subchapter and (2) damage to City property resulting from violations of the Subchapter.

Continuing on to page 7, concerning EXISTING NON-CONFORMING PARKWAYS, the report says:

There are currently a significant number of unpermitted alterations to parkways that will be out-of-compliance with these proposed Residential Parkway Standards (and with the existing CCMC and Proposed Ordinance, if adopted, which require a permit). Code Enforcement has not been aggressively pursuing these violations due to the lack of clear Standards and a designated permit process. With the adoption of the proposed Residential Parkway Standards,  the Code Enforcement Division has indicated that it intends to prioritize enforcement based on complaints received and the severity of the violations, consistent with the current Council-approved approach.

And here’s some illustrations from Exhibit B of the Report’s Attachments:

CC Parkway Agenda ItemA1-Dos&Donts

 

Can Culver City create customized regulations to suit the needs of our residents? Can we plan ahead as an entire community to become more resilient and food-growing-friendly in the face of challenging times or have a conversation about appropriate use of public space for the public good? Come let Culver City governance know your opinion!

If you’d like to learn more about this issue from the Los Angeles perspective, here’s some interesting stories:

“Taking Back the Streets through Urban Agriculture” from ROOTS OF CHANGE >>

An opinion about the L.A. Parkway Planting Rules from our friends the urban D.I.Y. homestead folks at ROOT SIMPLE >>

SUCCESSFUL CHALLENGE of L.A. MUNICIPAL CODE  § 56.08: Support Growing Edibles on the Parkway in L.A. >>

The inspirational story of LA’s Urban Garden Guerrilla Ron Finley on TED TALKS, Long Beach, Feb 2013:

(over a million views!)

If embedded video not visible above, click here to view:
 http://on.ted.com/Finley

Hope to see you at City Hall on Tuesday, May 28th!

——————-
POST-MEETING ADDENDUM:

Read about how the vote went  >>>
(spoiler alert: happy beginning, much more story to unfold!)

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