On December 4, 2008, residents passing by the Post Office on Center Boulevard noticed employees of Cohen Landscaping applying round-up in the landscaped planters. Kathy Wilkie, Public Works Director, was notified of the transgression of the Town’s Pesticide Free ordinance and immediately directed the contractor to cease and desist from any further pesticide use.
Ms. Wilkie was informed by the contractor that an unlicensed pesticide applicator of Cohen Landscaping did apply Roundup as approved under the construction contract for the Center Boulevard project. Cohen Landscaping is a subcontractor of Ghilotti Brothers, Inc, and is responsible for maintaining the newly planted landscaping for the duration of the one-year warranty period. The Town will issue, by tomorrow, a letter declaring their actions a public nuisance (the first offense penalty per Chapter 8.52.110 of the Town Code relating to Pesticides). The State of California is investigating the matter and has the authority to issue penalties, including fines to Cohen Landscaping for being unlicensed and violating safety procedures during the spraying.
How did this happen in a Town so committed to environmental sustainability? The public deserves an explanation of the circumstances and what actions will be taken to prevent this from occurring in the future.
What happened? When the plans and specifications were prepared in 2007 they included standard language for weed abatement that allows the use of herbicides. However, Fairfax has more rigid restrictions that were not included in the documents. The Town staff and Council approved the plans, and specifications believing that the documents included the Fairfax restrictions.
What will prevent this from occurring in the future? New language has been incorporated in the contract specifications to strictly prohibit the use of pesticides. The Town ordinance restricting the use of herbicides and pesticides will be attached to all contract documents and these documents will become the standard specifications for all future capital improvement projects in Fairfax.
The Town sincerely apologizes for this illegal action and will ensure this does not occur in the future.