As cities and counties across the state are scrambling to comply with Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandatory statewide water use reduction of 25 percent, the American Canyon City Council adopted a new ordinance banning front lawns on new homes. The Water Efficient Landscaping Ordinance requires all new developments to use drought-resistant plants in the front of homes instead of grass or natural turf. The ordinance, developed and endorsed by the American Canyon Planning Commission, does not apply to existing homes, nor does it prevent lawns in backyards.
As of January 1, 2010, state law required all California cities and counties to adopt a water efficient landscape ordinance. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) provided a Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (model ordinance) that local jurisdictions could adopt, or they could craft an ordinance to fit local conditions, as long as it is as effective as the model ordinance in regard to water conservation.
American Canyon’s zero-front-lawn approach is something few, if any, California local governments have embraced. Considering American Canyon’s water situation, the banning of front lawns for new developments was not surprising. Since August 2014, American Canyon, which lacks a reservoir and had its state water allocation slashed to 5 percent of its maximum, has blocked lawn watering between noon and 6 p.m. and imposed other restrictions.