Prohibition of Artificial Turf
In light of concerns from the effects of unregulated synthetic grass and artificial turf landscaping, a temporary moratorium was put into effect on October 26, 2021, prohibiting all new synthetic turf installations until a new ordinance could be drafted. The City Council followed up on the moratorium by adopting a new ordinance on October 24, 2023, prohibiting the installation of synthetic grass and artificial turf.
The ordinance amends Title 8, Public Works, Chapter 8.65, Synthetic Grass and Artificial Turf, of the Millbrae Municipal Code, prohibiting the installation of all synthetic grass and artificial turf effective January 1, 2024. The ordinance contains provisions to phase-out existing synthetic grass and artificial turf landscaping installed prior to the moratorium taking effect. Residents with existing synthetic grass and artificial turf landscaping will be required to remove and replace their existing synthetic material with natural landscaping once the installations begin to show visible signs of wear and degradation or if their existing installations are unable to accommodate the permeability of storm water during rain events. Wear and degradation includes identifiable holes, tears, stains, discoloration, seam separations, lifted surfaces, loose or separated nap and netting, buckling, heat degradation, and excessive wear. Areas adjacent to existing synthetic installations must be kept clean and free of plastic blades, netting and crumb rubber at all times.
Residents with questions or concerns regarding the new requirements should contact the City's Code Enforcement Division.
- City Council Staff Report Prohibiting Synthetic Grass and Artificial Turf, October 24, 2023.
- Second Extension of the Interim Ordinance Establishing a Temporary Moratorium on the Installation of Artificial Turf and Synthetic Grass in the City of Millbrae for One Year YouTube Video
- Millbrae City Council October 25, 2022 Meeting
Millbrae Municipal Code Title 8, Chapter 8.65, “City of Millbrae Synthetic Grass and Artificial Turf Ordinance,”
as adopted by City Council on October 24, 2023:
This chapter shall be known as the “City of Millbrae Synthetic Grass and Artificial Turf Ordinance.”
The purpose of this chapter is to protect and enhance the health, safety and general welfare of residents and to protect the water quality of our watercourses, water bodies and wetlands in a manner pursuant to and consistent with the state and federal regulations and permits, including the Clean Water Act.
A. Eliminating the discharge of debris from synthetic grass and artificial turf products, such as plastic blades, crumb rubber, nylon and other synthetic components, into stormwater runoff;
B. Improve the absorption and retention of storm water through the use of natural drought-tolerant landscaping using living plant material;
C. Eliminating solid waste generated by the disposal of synthetic grass and artificial turf products;
D. Improving public health and safety by removing exposure to potential environmental carcinogens found in synthetic grass and artificial turf products.
A. Definitions. As used in this Section, the following definition will apply:
1. “Synthetic Grass” and “Artificial Turf” is synthetic or artificial non-organic material that simulates the appearance of organic sod, grass, or lawn ground cover, and includes outdoor plastic carpeting. Synthetic grass and artificial turf does not include painted natural organic grass or sod.
2. “Subgrade” is the native ground underneath a synthetic grass and artificial turf installation. Subgrade does not include concrete, pavers or impermeable hardscape.
The use and installation of synthetic grass and artificial turf landscaping material is prohibited within the city.
8.65.050 Existing Synthetic Grass and Artificial Turf Installations
A. Existing synthetic grass and artificial turf legally installed prior to January 1, 2024, is permitted to remain under the following conditions:
1. Synthetic grass and artificial turf installations must be maintained pursuant to its manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, in an attractive and clean condition, and must not contain holes, tears, stains, discoloration, seam separations, lifted surfaces, loose or separated nap and netting, buckling, heat degradation, or excessive wear.
2. Existing installations must remain taught and flush with subgrade.
3. Existing installations must allow permeability of storm water.
4. Adjacent hardscape, ground cover and natural landscaped areas must be kept free of residual debris from synthetic grass and artificial turf such as plastic blades, netting and crumb rubber.
B. The parking of vehicles on synthetic grass and artificial turf is prohibited.
C. Synthetic grass and artificial turf installations damaged or destroyed, by any means, to the extent of thirty-five (35%) percent of its replacement cost new, must be removed and replaced with water-efficient natural landscaping.
D. Existing synthetic grass and artificial turf installations must be removed and replaced with water-efficient natural landscaping once they are unable to be maintained as required by this section.
E. Failure to comply with the provisions of this section is an unlawful property nuisance and may be abated by the city pursuant to MMC Chapter 6.25.