Calabasas is proud to already have the following “green” projects/programs in place:
In July 2008, the City of Calabasas completed construction of a high performance, resource-friendly Civic Center consisting of a City Hall and Public Library. Both buildings were designed to meet a “Gold” standard from the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System for new construction. Sustainable design features include the use of energy and water efficient HVAC and plumbing systems, recycled and locally manufactured materials, use of a “cool” energy star rated roof, drought tolerant landscaping, low flow irrigation system, use of recycled water for landscape, use of natural daylight, increased views, systems to monitor and provide healthy indoor air quality and much more. Both the City Hall and Public Library were awarded a LEED Gold Certification by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) on January 20, 2010.
On January 7, 2004, the City Council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance requiring all new non-residential development to achieve the equivalent of a “Certified” or “Silver” rating using the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) v.2.0 rating system. The Green Development Ordinance implements development standards that require new or significantly remodeled, buildings to be high performance environmentally friendly buildings.
The Land Use Element of the General Plan states that a primary goal of the Land Use Element is to
“…provide a distribution of land uses that maintains, yet also enhances the environmental, social, physical, and economic well-being of Calabasas”. (General Plan, 2008, II-1)
Additionally, the Community Design Element of the General Plan establishes that, in order for new development to conform to the character of its natural setting:
“…new development should be accomplished through infill and revitalization of existing developed areas in order to conserve undeveloped areas” (General Plan, 2008, IX-8),
Mixed Use development constructed on infill parcels, or on existing developed areas as part of a revitalization plan, will enable Calabasas to maintain and enhance its existing natural environment, as well as boosting the social, physical and economic well-being of the City. Mixed Use does so through efficient and sustainable land use design, which involves combining different land use categories (such as residential and commercial uses) into one development. This eliminates automobile trips between the different land uses, and promotes walkability and a pedestrian-oriented environment. Through more compact, higher-density design, mixed use development helps conserve land as open space, and thus supports the City’s key vision of protecting the natural environment of Calabasas which has attracted so many of the City’s residents to the area.
Consequently, the City has adopted a Commercial Mixed Use zoning district, along with the General Plan identifying three different densities of mixed use land use districts, as follows:
- Mixed Use 0.60 – where the maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is 60%
- Mixed Use 0.95 – where the maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is 95%
- Mixed Use 1.0 – where the maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is 100%
The City's vehicle fleet consists of automobiles, trucks and vans for City employees and includes public transit shuttles and old fashioned trolley cars to serve the general public. Recognizing that standard gasoline using automobiles consume considerable energy and contribute significantly to air pollution, the City continues to build a vehicle fleet consisting of alternative fuel vehicles that run off of compressed natural gas (CNG) or involve hybrid gas/electric engines to improve fuel efficiency. Recently, the City added nine hybrid vehicles to the City's fleet for use by inspectors, saving gallons of gas from being consumed each year.
With the passage of AB 939 (California Integrated Waste Management Act) in 1989, Calabasas has set up a number of recycling programs to ensure that it meets the State’s goal of a 50% diversion rate. These programs include curbside recycling, construction waste recycling, electronic waste recycling, and household hazardous waste round-ups. In addition City staff provides outreach and technical assistance to the public, businesses and schools, and has initiated innovative programs to maximize waste prevention and recycling, and partner with organizations with compatible goals. More recently, the Calabasas City Council adopted a resolution on January 16, 2007 setting a new diversion goal of 75% by 2012, making Calabasas only the second California city (after San Francisco) and the first city in Southern California to set such an ambitious goal for recycling.
During the 2007 calendar year, Calabasas collected and recycled 152,466 pounds of electronic waste, including 1,800 TVs and computer monitors. Our goal is to collect and recycle 175,000 pounds of electronics during 2007. Please help us achieve this goal!
In 2007, the Calabasas City Council adopted Ordinance 2007-233 banning retail food establishments, nonprofit food providers and City facilities from using food packaging materials made of expanded polystyrene, known popularly by the trademark name Styrofoam. The ordinance required food service establishments in Calabasas to start using environmentally acceptable packaging by March 31, 2008, and to report on-going compliance with the ordinance on the first business day of each calendar year.
In February 2006, Calabasas enacted a Comprehensive Secondhand Smoke Ordinance which restricts smoking in all public places, including parks, sidewalks, parking lots, patios, and outdoor balconies. The Comprehensive Secondhand Smoke Ordinance makes the City of Calabasas the city with the strictest anti-smoking laws in the Unites States.
The City’s Environmental Services Division oversees a variety of activities that help reduce or eliminate pollutants from storm water and urban runoff, and enhance the water quality of our local watersheds. These activities include stream restorations, water quality monitoring, capital improvements, public education and outreach, and regulatory activities.
Las Virgenes Creek Restoration
Between 2003 and 2008, the City actively engaged in the Las Virgenes Creek Restoration Project, a project that restored 440 linear feet of a concrete channelized streambed to a natural condition. The Las Virgenes Creek is a part of the Malibu Creek Watershed which provides habitat for numerous animal species including Southern Steelhead Trout, the Southwestern Pond Turtle, Arroyo Toad, Pacific Tree Frog, American Goldfinches, Song Sparrows, Coyotes, and Mountain Lions. The City of Calabasas has sought funding from numerous State and Federal agencies for the restoration effort. In 2003, the City Council approved a conceptual design with final construction completed in Spring of 2008. The project has successfully achieved the following goals:
- Enhanced Wildlife Habitat
- Public Outreach and Education
- Footpath and Trail Connection
- Enhanced Water Quality
- Increased Aesthetics
Water Quality Monitoring
The City of Calabasas has joined forces with the cities of Agoura Hills, Malibu, Westlake Village, Hidden Hills, Thousand Oaks, and the counties of Los Angeles and Ventura in a comprehensive effort to improve the quality of our local watersheds. The primary goal of the monitoring activities is to help give stakeholders in the region a better understanding of the watershed and the pollutants that threaten it. These goals are being accomplished on an ongoing basis by collecting water quality data. The City of Calabasas collects and documents information on pollutants and other problems that impair the quality of Malibu Creek and its tributary streams.
The water quality monitoring program provides local stakeholders with water quality conditions, identification of potential point and non-point pollution sources, and allows for prioritization of areas of concern in the North Santa Monica Bay Watersheds (NSMBW). The monitoring locations are chosen to represent a variety of land uses so that data collected would lead to a comprehensive understanding of how pollutants are affecting basic stream health and quality throughout the watershed.
Water Quality Mitigation
The City is actively engaged in a number of capital improvements and activities to help mitigate adverse impacts to the quality of our local watershed. These projects include:
- Installation of a $600,000 bio-filteration and remediation device over a 102” storm drain line to filter runoff before being discharged into Las Virgenes Creek. The storm drain line captures all dry weather runoff from the Calabasas landfill area and from several residential and commercial neighborhoods. The purpose of the device is to divert dry weather runoff through a percolation chamber. The construction of the project began in March 2007 and was completed on November 2007. The final report is now being prepared to be submitted to the State Water Resource Control Board.
- Installation of three Continuous Deflector Separation (CDS) units over major storm drain lines to capture trash and sediment and prevent pollution entering into creeks. The City collects hundreds of pounds of trash and sediment and prevents it from entering into creeks. The City cleans out these devices on a quarterly basis.
- Engaging in a major public education campaign on reducing run-off and picking up after pets. The City has designed and established a dog park called “Bark Park”. This park has a natural pond to capture and treat the polluted water from dog waste.
- Installation of dog waste waste pick up bags and trash cans throughout the City.
- Installation of trash cans at all bus stops.
- Two annual creek clean-ups are held for Las Virgenes Creek. On average 100 citizens attend each event and collect hundreds of pounds of trash. Last year, the City even removed a car frame from the creek bank.
- Production of a 26 minute documentary called “Clean Water Act and Our Backyards,” through which the City educates and involves the public on means readily available to the public to prevent pollution, reduce runoff and protect storm drains.
- Placement of 3,200 storm drain markers on all catch basin inlets through the City. The markers carry the following message: “No Dumping-Drains to Creek.” These markers are more effective and more durable than traditional stenciling by paint.
- Production of a 66 page booklet called “Living Lightly Guide in Our Watersheds” containing information and educational materials on various water-related issues such as urban-runoff, water conservation, landscaping, waste water, beaches and bays, etc. In Fall 2005, City of Calabasas distributed a copy of this colorful booklet to every individual residence and business in Calabasas at the cost of $35,000. Currently, every new resident receives a copy of the Guide from the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District.
Urban Runoff Mitigation
The City implements a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program that uses an integrated approach to regulate storm water discharges from industrial facilities, construction sites, and municipal systems. This includes two units that issue and enforce Storm Water National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. These units are Storm Water Permitting and Storm Water Compliance and Enforcement.
The Watershed Regulatory Section implements the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting for the region. The Municipal Permitting Unit develops NPDES permits for discharges from POTWs to surface water and water reclamation requirements (WRRs) and waste discharge requirements (non-Chapter 15 discharges to land, WDRs) for POTWs that also hold NPDES permits.
The Industrial Permitting unit writes or updates permits for non-POTW facilities, such as refineries, power plants, manufacturing, and other industries with discharges to surface waters within the region. Often, certain classes of discharges are identified and, where similar types of discharges occur from similar types of operations, general permits are developed to streamline the permitting process.
The General Permitting unit enrolls these similar categories of discharges under existing general permits. The categories being enrolled include construction dewatering without treatment; construction dewatering with treatment; hydrostatic test water; non-process wastewater; petroleum fuel cleanup; and, cleanup of volatile organic compounds.
Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program
On the second Saturday of every month, at the Tennis and Swim Center here in the City of Calabasas, you can bring all your household hazardous waste. Products that are considered hazardous waste are corrosive, flammable, reactive or toxic. Learn more about hazardous waste.
Wildlife Restoration Days
Frequently, the City hosts events in which volunteers are invited to participate in planting native plants, removing invasive plant species and restoring habitats. Tools are provided but people are suggested to bring drinking water, a hat, wear sunscreen, gloves and be wearing work clothes and shoes.
Earth Day Festival
Every April, the City hosts an Earth Day Celebration at various locations around the City. The festival normally includes exhibits, entertainment, learning booths, informational speakers and activities that focus on the environment.
Arbor Day is a nationally-celebrated observance that encourages tree planting and care. Founded by J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska in 1872, National Arbor Day is celebrated each year on the last Friday in April. The City holds an Arbor Day Celebration once annually in the Spring and includes a tree planting ceremony and an opportunity for citizens to plant trees.