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  • BVNA

No Water Doesn’t Mean No Landscaping

Did you know that San Jose Municipal Code (sections 17.72.530 (Single-Family) 17.72.535 (Multi-Family)) requires that all residential properties “shall have landscaping (trees, shrubs, lawns, other live plant materials or decorative landscaping) installed in the non-paved portions of the front and side yards that are visible from any street.” Additionally, failure to meet the requirements of the code sections constitutes property blight.

Even though restrictions were put in place to conserve water during the drought, property owners are still required to actively maintain the landscaping on their properties. Property owners are not allowed to let their lawns die off and “go to weeds”. Many lawn alternatives exist including replacing lawns with native drought tolerant plants or artificial grass. Once established, trees not only provide low to no-water solutions but also provide shade.

Our City Forest has joined hands with the Santa Clara Valley Water District to help Santa Clara County property owners convert their lawns into DROUGHT-TOLERANT LANDSCAPES. For more information, visit:

As a word of warning, don’t try replacing your lawn by “paving over it.” The city has found that front yards paved as private parking lots (regardless of if they are used for cars) are generally considered to be inconsistent with good neighborhood quality. As such, San Jose’s Front Setback Paving Ordinance limits the amount of paving in the front setback of lots (the area 25 feet from the street into a property). For lots with frontage of 40” or greater, no more than 50% of the front setback area may be paved. For lots with less than 40” of frontage, paving in the front setback area is limited to 10feet in width or 50% of the width of the lot at any given point, whichever is greater.

For questions about San Jose City Code, contact Code Enforcement at: (408) 535-7770


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