Millbrae Has Enacted A Temporary Restriction On The Installation Of New Artificial Turf

Millbrae Has Enacted A Temporary Restriction On The Installation Of New Artificial Turf

UPDATED: November 16, 2021 at 1:33 p.m. | PUBLISHED: November 1, 2021 at 8:00 a.m.

The installation of synthetic yard treatment has been halted by the City Council pending the passage of permanent legislation restricting its usage in the city.

Artificial turf is officially prohibited in Millbrae after the City Council imposed a temporary ban on the landscaping material, which is typically considered as a low-maintenance, low-water-use alternative to genuine grass.

The moratorium will be in effect for at least 45 days and might continue up to two years while the city tries to adopt permanent guidelines to address environmental issues such as increased heat, toxic plastic runoff, insect damage, and a diminished ability of the earth to absorb rainfall.

“With this interim ordinance, we are taking a pause and giving ourselves a chance to analyze and come back to the council with suggestions,” said City Attorney Joan Cassman.

The decision comes in the midst of a statewide drought, which has prompted many households to seek alternative yard treatments that use less water. However, some experts believe that the environmental disadvantages of artificial turf outweigh the benefits.

“We have to gather all of the facts, see what’s true, what’s not real, and what can be proven,” Mayor Ann Schneider said.

Numerous studies, according to the city, demonstrate that artificial grass includes a “broad variety of chemicals” that might cause irreversible harm to the city’s environment and watershed, and some turf contains proven carcinogens.

Furthermore, on sunny days, artificial turf grows warmer than genuine grass, which might contribute to the “heat island effect,” in which metropolitan areas become warmer than their surroundings.

Groundwater absorption, a critical component of water conservation, is also an issue. Depending on the installation process, artificial turf might cause water to leak onto the roadway instead of replenishing ground moisture. According to City Manager Tom Williams, the city has discovered artificial turf being laid on top of concrete in numerous cases.

Future laws might control appropriate installation, the proportion of yards that can be covered, and bans on some types or brands deemed more dangerous than others.

The city’s meeting this week to debate the issue garnered numerous public remarks in favor of the ban.

“Using native plants to preserve water is a far better answer than covering the ground with plastic,” said John Bottorff, a board member with the advocacy organization “Plastic grass contributes to microplastic contamination and is not recyclable.”

Several comments were made by local high school students, some of whom expressed worries about the expanding usage of artificial grass to cover playing fields. Though the city’s ban only applies to residential purposes and does not apply to high schools, council members have indicated an interest in wider legislation.

Councilmember Anders Fung, who had earlier expressed reservations about the prohibition, voted in support of it at the insistence of his colleagues. He expressed concern about how the restriction would be implemented and underlined the importance of educating the public about the law and its purpose.

Williams stated that the city would not be harsh in its enforcement and that it would be carried out in the same manner as any other code infraction.

“We’re not going to have a large hefty stick,” Williams explained. “I believe that this is a learning opportunity for us as a community to enlighten, enhance, and educate.”

– Story By Turf Pros Solution