On January 26, 2000, by a 6-0 vote, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Board enacted very severe stormwater mitigation requirements that developers will be required to address to gain land use approvals in that part of the State. These mitigation requirements have important implications for project design and approval strategies and will apply to all significant new development and redevelopment projects, including commercial and residential, beginning this Summer.
Developers currently must comply with the State Water Board's longstanding stormwater permit requirements for implementing best management practices and controlling erosion during the construction phase of projects. In order to gain local approvals of their projects, developers will now be required to submit plans that, among other things: 1) cluster development and minimize disturbance of vegetated areas, 2) ensure ongoing, post-project maintenance of stormwater controls, and, most significantly, 3) incorporate permanent design features that will detain and infiltrate or treat all stormwater runoff (including "clean" runoff) from all storms of up to 85% of historical annual volume (i.e., for the Los Angeles area, for all storms of up to .75 inches). Additional design requirements will apply to commercial developments consisting of 100,000 square feet or more of impermeable area, restaurants in excess of 5,000 square feet, all gasoline stations and auto repair shops, and parking lots of 25 or more spaces.
Now that these requirements have been imposed in the Los Angeles area, it is likely that similar controls will spread to other parts of the State in the relatively near future. Morrison & Foerster is recognized as California's leading law firm on stormwater and development issues and regularly represents and advises clients on these and other land use and environmental law matters.