Letter: It’s time to conserve water and save money
Coastside County Water District (CCWD) has recently announced another water rate increase, 7 % this time around. At its May 16 meeting the City Council chose to schedule the issue of water conservation for the very end of a lengthy agenda. This is the time when most of the audience has gone home, the councilmembers, staff, and any remaining members of the audience are tired, and the viewing public has probably either turned off their TV or changed channels.
As I have stated repeatedly, providing homebuilders with the tools to save money and water in designing their landscapes is a very much-needed service. Frequently, these new residents are unaware of our prolonged dry season, recurring droughts, and the not too distant future of doubling water rates.
The discussion of how the city could address the needs of home and landscape designers in a climate of decreasing supplies and hugely escalating costs of water was originally scheduled, for the April 13th joint meeting of the City Council, the Planning Commission, and the Architectural Review Committee. The joint meeting was, however, almost exclusively devoted to an ethics-training workshop, and although I had a chance to speak about the issue, there was no time for discussion or action.
Now, a month l later, the Planning Department recommends that the council take no action on the issue and that it should be sent back to the Planning Commission for analysis, study, and recommendation.
Applicants for single residence CDP’s have presumably had to abide by the condition “any landscape improvement shall apply xeriscape principles for drought resistance and to reduce water consumption”. However this dictate has been largely ignored. Many designs have come forward for Planning Commission approval in which lawn areas in the front, back, and side yards were the predominant landscape feature. I first brought up the discrepancy between what was on paper and what was routinely approved on the ground more than a year ago. How many more months or years will pass while the Planning Department and the Planning Commission toss this issue around?
While the Planning Commission is pondering the issue, the City Council could have chosen to allow their standing resolution of 1993 to at least partially fill the gap. All they had to do was to remove a single sentence: “These guidelines shall not be applied to single family residential projects involving no common area landscaping” They did not do that.
In the meantime, how many more water-intensive landscapes will continue to drain our watershed as well as the bank accounts of unwary residents?