Ocean Friendly Gardens, HOW
July 19 2012

OFG Members Have Great 1st Meeting With County Stormwater & Smart Gardening Staff

by Paul Herzog

Since the County of Los Angeles serving 1 million constituents and is planning to put a stormwater fee up for a vote of property owners, it made sense for the West LA/Malibu (WLAM) Chapter's OFG Sub-Committee to set up a meeting and brainstorm about ways to collaborate. County staff attendees included:

  • Assistant Deputy Director for the Watershed Management Division - overseeing stormwater programs and regulatory requirement.
  • Principal Engineer for the Environmental Programs Division and sub-program assistant - overseeing green waste reduction programs (Smart Gardening), and more.

The discussion was comprehensive and identified current and future opportunities to work together to influence existing landscapes and new ones, e.g., low-impact develop requirements triggered by pulling a buildilng a permit. WLAM OFG members, Steve Williams and Tom Rau, shared hardcopies of the OFG standards (sign criteria) and OFG brochure. The visit was timely: the County is in the process of renewing its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit with the Regional Water Quality Control Board; and all stormwater permittees to the regional stormwater permit (read: cities) are required to do outreach and education.

Here are the key next-steps identified, and ones any Chapter and respective county might consider:

  • Surfrider could speak at a regular meeting of Stormwater Coordinators within each of the County's watersheds.
  • Partner on grants, e.g., Urban Greening.
  • Incorporate Ocean Friendly Gardens standards into Smart Gardening Demonstration Centers and Info Centers. Provide an e-version of the OFG brochure for the County to share with Smart Gardening Workshop attendees.
  • OFG partners, G3/The Green Gardens Group, could provide professional training for agency staff, utilizing the OFG standards and G3 Hands-On Workshops (HOWs). G3 could also work with the County to create a certification for Smart Gardeners. (G3's Managing Member, is a WLAM OFG volunteer and attended the meeting.)
  • Cross-promote each other's webpages.

After the meeting, an OFG member sent an email that thanked the County for the meeting and suggested doing a Hands-On Workshop to retrofit part of the landscaping in front of the County LEED Platinum-certified building. As with other HOWs, It would serve as an opportunity to training for attendes (agency staff, professionals, residents) and a demonstration of how to reduce your charge under the coming stormwater fee. Note: the proposed fee is similar to Portland, Oregon's: one pays in proportion to their pervious surface area, i.e., how permeable the site is to filtering and holding onto rain water.

Set up a call and/or meeting with your city and county stormwater, green waste reduction and water conservation staff!