State water law spurs grass ban 

Expansive residential lawns — already a rare sight in San Francisco — could be banned in The City.

Under a regulation drafted by The City in response to a state water law, grass would not be allowed to cover more than one-fourth of newly landscaped areas greater than 1,000 square feet.

Grass is the thirstiest part of a residential yard, according to San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Water Conservation Manager Julie Ortiz.

Additionally, use of water-intensive plants would be outlawed by the new rules. A list of drought-hardy species allowed to be planted in San Francisco will be published by the utility agency.

“We’re being more flexible than the state because our list includes those that are in the ‘Sunset Western Garden Book,’” Ortiz said. “In cases where somebody may choose a plant that’s not on the list, we can potentially accommodate that.”

The ordinance would affect yards in front of houses and condo and apartment complexes, along with commercial and government land, according to Ortiz.

Violations could lead to fines, and the agency plans to run an educational campaign to advise gardeners that they must adhere to the landscaping laws.

Only new landscaping is affected, and San Francisco yards normally have less than 1,000 square feet of dirt available for planting.

The ordinance will be reviewed by utilities commissioners and city lawmakers before potentially becoming law in winter.

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