CARSONSCAPE: Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance

Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance
The State's Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) was updated on July 15, 2015. The purpose of the MWELO is to promote the values and benefits of landscaping practices that integrate conservation and efficient use of water. The MWELO establishes a structure for planning, designing, installing, maintaining and managing water efficient landscapes in new construction and rehabilitated projects. You can find more information on the State's current water efficient landscape efforts on the Department of Water Resources' website.
Is My Project Subject to MWELO?
MWELO requirements apply to any landscaping projects 500 square feet or greater that requires a permit, plan check or design review.

Landscape area means all the planting areas, turf areas, and water features in a landscape design plan. The landscape area does not include footprints of buildings or structures, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, decks, patios, gravel or stone walks, other pervious or non-pervious hardscapes, and other non-irrigated areas designated for non-development(e.g., open spaces and existing native vegetation). Typical permits that would trigger MWELO requirements include a building permit for sprinkler installation, a design view application for a building addition, or a building permit to construct a swimming pool.

How Do I Comply?
All applicants must submit a completed and accurate Landscape Documentation Package contained in the City's CARSONSCAPE MWELO page as part of the plan check submittal process. There are two compliance pathways that all applicants may take to comply with MWELO:

  1. Streamlined Prescriptive Compliance Approach (Projects 500 sq. ft. - 2,500 sq. ft.)
    The streamlined Prescriptive Compliance Approach may be used for new landscapes subject to MWELO and less than 2,500 sq. ft. The Prescriptive Compliance Approach is a checklist of landscape standards that are met and documented on the Landscape Plan. These standards include incorporating compost, limiting plant water use, adding mulch, limiting turf area, and requirements for irrigation systems.

    Required Prescriptive Compliance Landscape Documentation Package:
  2. Performance Compliance Approach (All landscape projects that are 2,500 sq. ft. or greater)
    The Performance Compliance Approach may be used for new and retrofit landscapes subject to MWELO and 2,500 sq. ft. or greater. The Performance Compliance Approach has additional requirements beyond the Prescriptive Compliance Option: This approach must include a soil management report, landscape design plan, irrigation design plan, and a grading design plan. More specifics on the requirements of the Performance Approach can be found below in the Landscape Documentation Package.

    Required Performance Compliance Landscape Documentation Package: 
Additional Resources
The City of Carson MWELO Information Handout provides information on revisions to the MWELO and required information to comply with the ordinance. Information on plant water needs can be found through the Water Use Classification of Landscape Species (WUCOLS) Database
Email or call (310) 952-1761 during business hours and ask to speak to a planner on duty.

City Hall Contact

701 E Carson Street
Carson, CA 90745
(310) 830-7600, 7 AM - 6 PM
Monday - Thursday
24-hour automated: (310) 952-1700


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