San Roque Park in Santa Barbara
San Roque Park is one of the parks in Santa Barbara that will be free of the herbicide Roundup. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara plans to eliminate a glyphosate-based herbicide, or Roundup, in its city parks.

The city is taking the step as part of an update to its Integrated Pest Management Program. The city already avoids the chemical in most city parks but will add Cabrillo Ball Field, Dwight Murphy Park, Franceschi Park, MacKenzie Park, Orpet Park, Pershing Park, San Roque Park, Sylvan Park and Hidden Valley Park. It will still use neem oil, a natural product, at the Mission Rose Garden to combat insects and fungus.

Heavy rains last winter resulted in a growth of weeds in city parks and around town.

“This was the first year we had significant rain in seven years coming out of the drought,” Parks Manager Rich Hanna said. “The weeds in Santa Barbara were an all-team effort.”

The city can still apply for an exemption if it wants to apply glyphosate at a city park, particularly for poison oak or something that presents a threat to the public. As it stands, in 2018, the city used only about three gallons of glyphosate at its parks.

Hanna and members of the Parks & Recreation Department made a presentation to the Parks and Recreation Commission at a recent hearing. The changes still must go before the Santa Barbara City Council for approval.

“The city has continued to make tremendous strides toward the reduction of pesticide use,” Hannah said.

The city adopted its Integrated Pest Management Program 15 years ago and since then has eliminated 89 percent of the most harmful herbicides. Even when it comes to pests, the city prefers trapping or a carbon monoxide generator to eliminate gophers from its parks.

Glyphosate is one of the country’s most popular herbicides and is primarily used to kill broadleaf plants and grasses. The city does use the chemical at some medians and traffic bulbuouts, but mostly to eliminate poison oak, arundo or other plants that present a risk to public safety.

Commission chairman Nichol Clark said he likes the direction the city is headed.

“There’s a lot of community rise-up against Roundup, and I feel like the department has really taken those community concerns to heart, not because you want to do look good, because you want to do the right thing,” Clark said.

Commissioner Beebe Longstreet said: “Thirty years ago, people just went out there and sprayed everything. People didn’t wear protective gear. The city has come a long ways.”

She said the community should get involved and pull weeds if they don’t like them in their neighborhood, although she noted the silver lining of having weeds.

“We need to accept a level of weeds and be happy we got them this year because it meant it rained,” Longstreet said. 

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Joshua Molina

Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at