HOAs and Brown Lawns
The State Water Resources Control Board has issued guidance on "Prohibitions for HOAs that Act Against Homeowners with Low-Water Landscapes Outside of a Declared Drought".
The following is an excerpt from The Mau Law Firm blog that was developed during the 2015 drought.
Since 2014, State laws regarding brown lawns and fines imposed by Homeowners Associations have changed due to the Governor's declaration of a drought State of Emergency. Please click on the link below the text to get the full explanation and the exact wording of the new law.
A homeowners association or HOA is no longer allowed to impose fines against members who reduce or even eliminate watering their lawns during a declared state of emergency due to drought, despite any provision in the association’s governing documents to the contrary. Recent bills have amended Civil Code Section 4735 of the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act, which originally prohibited an association’s regulation of low-water-using plants as a group and water-efficient landscaping. The latest change is in a subsection (subsection (c)), which prohibits an association from imposing fines against members who reduce or eliminate watering of vegetation and lawns during any period for which the Governor or a local government has declared a state of emergency due to drought. Section 4735 can be found below, with the amended subsection in Bold. As this drought continues and we are under a declared state of emergency statewide, Boards of Directors and property managers should think twice before fining members who stop watering their lawns or landscaping.
Please note, some HOAs require homeowners to file an Architectural Request or similar form to be approved by the HOA or Board of Directors before moving forward with landscaping improvements or turf removal. Check with your HOA to see if that step is required.