San Diego County supervisors OK native-plant landscaping policy


Native plants are taking root and flowering in the recently completed Cardiff State Beach Living Shoreline project in Encinitas. (California State Parks photo)

North Coast Current

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a package of climate-change proposals, highlighting native landscaping habitat protection, earlier in December based on an effort by Supervisors Terra Lawson-Remer and Nathan Fletcher.

The combined policy aims to promote environmental sustainability through the expanded use of native-plant landscaping and protection of local habitats, according to a county news release.

Terra Lawson-Remer
Terra Lawson-Remer

“Climate change is threatening our region’s unique habitats and ecosystems, but the good news is that we have the power to protect these fragile habitats, and this initiative will make doing so easier than ever,” Lawson-Remer, who represents District 3 and lives in Encinitas, said in the news release. “This policy will provide incentives to San Diego County residents, landscapers, and businesses to protect the biodiversity that makes our region so beautiful and unique, as well as require native plants be used in many County projects.”

The package was approved Dec. 14 by Lawson-Remer and Fletcher, and Supervisors Nora Vargas and Joel Anderson. Supervisor Jim Desmond was absent.

The policy centers on eight elements, to be developed in three phases over the next six fiscal years:

 A Native Plants Landscaping Design Manual that establishes definitions, practices and parameters involved in native-plant landscaping.

 A requirement that native-plant landscaping be incorporated into new county facilities and in retrofits when possible.

 A website that serves as a regional education and training resource for residents, regional partners and other agencies.

 Multilingual educational materials and resources designed to teach best practices for design, installation, maintenance and propagation of native plants.

 School district partnerships to install demonstration gardens and develop educational materials for county students.

 The development of professional landscaping certification programs with local community colleges and other partners.

 Rebates and other incentive programs to encourage native-plant landscaping in areas governed by the county.

 Free design templates and a web-based tool to assist in designing, planning and installing native-plant landscaping.

The policy package was the result of more than a year’s work by the San Diego Regional Biodiversity Working Group, which was formed through an effort by Lawson-Remer and Fletcher.

“I am pleased to see the action we initiated moving forward in a bold direction,” Fletcher said in the county’s news release. “Our region is one of the most biodiverse on the planet and our native plants initiatives will help in fostering biodiversity, providing habitat, facilitating habitat corridors, and drought management and stormwater reduction.”

More information about the policy package is available on the county’s website.