RICHMOND -- Less toxic methods will be used to control vegetation and pests on city lands under guidelines unanimously adopted Tuesday by the City Council.
The approach known as Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, "says we have to use the least toxic, most feasible approach" in maintaining public lands, said Richmond Parks and Landscape Superintendent Chris Chamberlain.
The new rules prohibit city agencies from using known carcinogens as listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and materials containing organophosphates or carbamates, which are known groundwater pollutants, according to staff reports. The ordinance also prohibits the use of any weed killer or other products containing known carcinogens by anyone near creek beds or other watersheds in Richmond.
Skeptics had complained that the move would impose new costs on the financially strapped city. When the council first considered the ordinance in June, council members Nat Bates and Corky Booze dissented, saying that replacing standard chemicals with organic compounds or manual labor would unnecessarily burden the city budget.
But Chamberlain's explanations, which included assurances that his department had already begun using IPM without straining his budget, assuaged Bates and Booze's concerns and helped earn their votes.
Booze praised Chamberlain.
"We just point you to it, and you get it done and do it well," Booze said.
The Parks and Landscape
Richmond joins a growing minority of California cities and counties to pass such an ordinance. The cities of San Francisco and Berkeley, along with Marin and Contra Costa counties are among the jurisdictions that have passed similar rules adopting IPM and ceasing use of certain chemicals, according to Californians for Pesticide Reform, an anti-pesticide watchdog group.
Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726. Follow him at Twitter.com/roberthrogers.