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29 April 2010

Greening San Francisco

San Francisco Passes Landscaping Law

Edited from Rachel Gordon, SFChronicle Staff Writer

The continued quest by San Francisco officials to green the streets moved forward with final passage of legislation that will require developers to use landscaping to beautify the city and keep excess rainwater out of the sewers.

The Green Landscaping Ordinance, proposed by Mayor Gavin Newsom and approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors, primarily will affect new development, but also will apply to owners who make significant alterations to their properties.

The legislation, which Newsom still must sign into law, will require that 50 percent of the surface area in new front yards be permeable, either with in-ground plantings, porous asphalt or interlocking bricks or pavers that will allow more rainwater to soak into the ground. The goal is to divert rainwater from the storm drains and reduce the burden on San Francisco's aging sewer system.

In addition, the legislation calls for parking lots, gas stations, car washes and other automobile-dense uses to be planted with more trees. Trees or ornamental fencing, or a combination of the two, will have to be used to screen larger lots from public view. Garage doors or solid walls can be used on smaller lots.

The new ordinance "will help San Francisco move forward with our environmental and aesthetic goals," said Supervisor Carmen Chu, lead sponsor of the proposal.  "You will start to see a change over time.” Once existing properties were largely removed from the legislation's reach, no significant opposition emerged.

The new landscape ordinance builds on efforts over the last couple of years in San Francisco to create areas known as pocket parks on blocked-off streets, to plant median strips, and to rip out sections of sidewalk to make room for cafe tables and plants.
This article appeared April 14 on page C - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle