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Policy Interventions

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. 

Developing Policy
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. 

Graphic of different types of plans to integrate nature-based policies.

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:

    • Land Use

    • Conservation

    • Open Space

    • Noise

    • Safety

    • Environmental Justice

    • Circulation

    • Housing

  • 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. 

Smart Infrastructure

Irrigation tube with green background and drop of water.

Smart Infrastructure

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.

Create Habitat

Image of wildflowers and native plant garden.

Create Habitat

- 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

Conserve Resources

Picture of gardening tools on soil with plant.

Conserve Resources

- Reduce Waste
- Be Water Conscious with Planting Choices, Soils and Maintenance
- Conserve Energy
- Utilize recycled, reclaimed, and reusable materials in landscapes and projects

Sequester Carbon

Pathway into oak woodland with wildflowers.

Sequester Carbon

- 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

Protect Ecosystems

Children walking on logs in a grassy field.

Protect Ecosystems

- 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

Nurture Soil

Image of hands holding soil with plants around it.

Nurture Soil

- Actively support healthy soils by using compost and mulch
- Avoid extractive practices
- Use local plant and tree communities
- Avoid invasive plant species

Browse Policy Interventions

Policy Examples


Economic Lever

Economic levers are a group of financial policy strategies that jurisdictions can use to incentivize resilient design.


Building Codes

Building codes refer to restrictions and resilience requirements that developers and contractors must meet when building new developments or redeveloping a property.



Zoning policies guide the siting and type of new developments or redevelopment in an area to avoid or address flood risks.


Ecological Support

Ecologically supportive policies address resilience through a range of regulations, developer requirements, and the use of specific policies such as those that encourage regenerative landscaping and green infrastructure practices.

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