The city has approved a weed-abatement law requiring landowners to obtain a permit before brush can be cleared from parcels of an acre or larger.
The "urgency ordinance" was adopted to prevent environmentally sensitive areas from being damaged or destroyed in the clearing of land for fire protection or weed abatement.
City officials said the law was drafted so that Laguna Niguel can avoid incidents similar to those that recently occurred in surrounding communities, where grading by developers has caused environmentalists to cry foul.
"It's a pretty stiff, tough little document," said Mayor Patricia C. Bates, who joined her colleagues in unanimously approving the ordinance.
City permits will now be required before vegetation can be cleared on property of an acre or larger, unless the property is otherwise protected by the city or the parcel is used only for a single-family home, said Community Development Director Robert P. Lenard.
Before a permit is issued, a city inspector will visit the site, Lenard said. If the inspector questions the sensitivity of the project, the city will require additional studies, mitigation measures or a Planning Commission review of the project, he said.