Homeowners’ associations can’t fine brown lawns, but cities can

Full disclosure: I have been on the Board of my homeowners association for eleven years. Sadly, we have had to fine people due to violations of the CC&R’s (the controlling rules of the Association). Recently the issue of bad lawns has come up, brown lawns, mostly due not to a lack of water, but a lack of watering and care. Now, thanks to the State of California no more fines for brown lawns—the “drought” is the reason. Actually, this is common sense. Here in Simi Valley the price of water went up 5.6% on July 15. We expect it to go up even more before we reach the Holidays.

“The new law reaffirms the executive action Brown issued in April, which ordered homeowners’ associations to refrain from fining residents for brown lawns. This new legislation, which immediately went into effect, would apply during local and statewide droughts, according to the Los Angeles Times.

drought hope obama

Homeowners’ associations can’t fine brown lawns, but cities can

With 80 percent of the state in extreme drought, a California assemblywoman put forth a bill that would prohibit homeowners’ associations from imposing fines on residents whose lawns are less than emerald green as a result of their efforts to conserve water.

Scott Bridges, Sacramento Business Journal, 7/22/14

With 80 percent of the state in extreme drought, a California assemblywoman put forth a bill that would prohibit homeowners’ associations from imposing fines on residents whose lawns are less than emerald green as a result of their efforts to conserve what is arguably the most precious commodity on the planet. On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed that bill into law.

“We can’t be sending mixed messages about the importance of conserving water during this drought,” said Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose. She authored Assembly Bill 2100.

“Fines for wasting water make sense. Fines for not watering your lawn don’t,” Campos added. “We shouldn’t punish people who are doing the right thing. We need every drop of water.”

The new law reaffirms the executive action Brown issued in April, which ordered homeowners’ associations to refrain from fining residents for brown lawns. This new legislation, which immediately went into effect, would apply during local and statewide droughts, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The glaring problem with the new law is that it falls short of protecting homeowners from their municipal overlords, which also could potentially fine homeowners for having brown lawns as a public nuisance, as in Glendora.

And in the conflicting messages department, the State Water Resources Control Board just passed an emergency measure letting water agencies fine people up to $500 a day for wasting water outside.

 

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

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