Ocean Friendly Gardens, GAP
September 16 2016

City Cuts Red Tape With Curb Cut Permit

by Paul Herzog

The Ventura County Surfrider Chapter partnered with the City of Ventura to officially launch the new parkway curb cut/bio-swale permit with a hands-on workshop. (The parkway is the planting strip between the street and sidewalk.) The workshop follows on the pilot curb cut project done four years at the Surfrider West Coast Chapters Conference in Ventura. It is the first curb cut permit in the state that is offered by a city for existing development.

Known as "green streets," the curb cuts and bio-swales absorb water coming down the street gutter during rainstorms and even during non-rainy days, e.g., broken sprinklers, landscape irrigation runoff (now illegal in California). While regional stormwater permits mandate techniques like green streets for new development, they are not required or promoted for existing development in California.

So when the Ventura Chapter asked for and got the opportunity to speak to the regional gathering of city stormwater government agency staff, they were stoked that the Ventura city representative in attendance - Brad Starr - said his city was interested in re-visiting the permit. After a few email exchanges, the new permit (posted here) was solidified, and the City shared it with all 55 neighborhoods registered through NextDoor.com! The City staffer also agreed to the idea of a hands-on workshop to launch the permit, and the workshop was promoted by the City through NextDoor.com.

The workshop site was the home of Betsy and Scott Manninen, who had hosted an OFG Garden Assistance Party two years prior - and Betsy was the head of the PTA at a nearby school that hosted an OFG project. Brad waived the permit fee of $372 fee, which covers staff time to review the design that is submitted and to visit the site to check that the job was done right. In addition, Brad drove to Greenwood Daylily Gardens nursery to pick up donated soil and amendment for the project (arranged by OFG volunteer and Daylily Gardens employee, Laura Bauer). Along with the soil, he brought his high school-aged son and 3 fellow basketball team players, which was key to digging out large rocks that had been packed into the parkway.

Jeff Zimmerman of ZDwellings, a local green building company, donated curb cutting services. Jeff did the curb cutting on the project four years-ago. We had just planned for one curb cut, having observed during rainstorms that water flows in and out the same cut. But Brad decided to ask the neighbor to approve expansion of the project, and Jeff agreed to stay longer to do a second cut. Then he packed up and headed out to enjoy the birthday get-away that night, planned by his girlfriend!

 Here's a video of the workday and it working during a rain!

The project was able to be completed in a day! It was a team effort: day-of help from Ventura OFG Outreach Coordinator, Megan Oergel, and supplemental material for the dry creekbed delivered by OFG's Laura Oergel. To continue the "green ribbon" of rainwater capture in the neighborhood, Shannon Shoup from the Ventura Surfrider Hold Onto Your Butt campaign is up for helping organize a curb cutting party for her block! The workshop came just a few weeks after the City did a ribbon cutting ceremony for their first green street project just a half-mile up the street (at $250,000 but, to their credit, had multiple, new curb cut/bio-swales and permeable asphalt...which will have to be vacuum-cleaned every so often).