Policies that prioritize and support nature-based elements can be integrated into guiding plans, regulations, ordinances, and capital improvement plans for the County and Cities to promote a resilient Santa Clara County.
Policies will often provide the impetus for physical interventions - requiring either developers, property owners, or jurisdictions to prioritize and incentivize nature-based solutions. In addition, there are enabling policies, primarily related to financing that can enable jurisdictions and property owners to more easily implement new nature-based projects. The following catalog offers a range of potential types of policies and examples for jurisdictions to use as models.
Where does it fit? Maximize Impact
Policies can be integrated into various types of documents and plans. Typically, there are different tiers of policy documents as illustrated below. Understanding where to insert and layer nature-based policies is a critical first step to having a comprehensive and effective set of policies in place.
Guiding or Overarching Plans
The top tier includes the primary guiding documents with which all other plans should be aligned. The General Plan is often where much of this information will live but as a 20-year document may not be easy to update with new concepts.
General Plans components:
City Council Strategic Plan
Local hazard mitigation plan
Nature-Based Development Principles
No matter how policies are integrated into plans or budgets, the following nature-based development principles are good to consider and incorporate in policy language, communication materials, and in discussions about what and how nature-based solutions can be used.
Utilize smart technologies such as:
- Automatic and low water irrigation systems
- Water use monitoring
- Other tools to limit the use of resources while ensuring the health and support of the landscapes.
- Use native plants
- Connect Spaces to Build Larger and more Robust Habitat Areas
- Increase Diversity of Plants and Avoid Monocultures
- Incorporate plants that support biodiversity and attract birds, butterflies, insects
- Avoid pesticides
- Limit use of grass or artificial turf
- Reduce Waste
- Be Water Conscious with Planting Choices, Soils and Maintenance
- Conserve Energy
- Utilize recycled, reclaimed, and reusable materials in landscapes and projects
- Protect and preserve existing habitats, forests (especially mature trees)
- Wetland, riverine, and marsh restoration
- Increase and support a robust and diverse tree canopy
- Incentivize or require regenerative landscaping practices
- Removal of hardscape and increase of renaturation
- Maximize Permeable Surfaces
- Minimize Stormwater Runoff
- Support Drought Resistance
- Build and maintain soils with compost and mulch
- Use Native, Drought Resistant Plants
- Reduce fossil fuel consumption
- Actively support healthy soils by using compost and mulch
- Avoid extractive practices
- Use local plant and tree communities
- Avoid invasive plant species