CA Lawmakers Moving To Block Cities From Fining Homeowners For Conserving Water
April 25, 2015

You'd think these cities and the state would be encouraging people to put AstroTurf down to replace their lawns given how dire the situation is with California's record drought and the first mandatory water restrictions just being ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown, and not fining their residents for making the switch, or for having brown lawns.

It's good to see something is being done to put a stop to it: California Lawmakers Want To Ban Cities From Fining Residents Who Don’t Water Their Lawns:

Plagued by one of the worst droughts on record and faced with mandatory water cuts, some California residents are choosing to let their lush, green laws turn dry and brown — and facing fines for it.

After hearing reports that some cities have fined residents for allowing their lawns to turn brown during the drought, the California state Assembly passed a bill Thursday that prohibits penalties for residents who choose not to water their grass, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“If California is going to manage its water resources efficiently and sustainably, then we cannot allow municipalities to penalize individuals for conserving water by not regularly watering their lawn,” assemblywoman Cheryl R. Brown (D-Rialto) said.

A number of California cities have maintenance ordinances specifying the condition in which residential laws must be kept. According to the LA Times, fines for these ordinances range from $100 a week to a flat fee of $500. [...]

In April of 2014, Gov. Brown signed an executive order mandating that homeowners’ associations could not fine homeowners for failing to water their lawns. But specific homeowners’ association rules can still make water conservation measures complicated for homeowners, something that Greg Greenstein, a resident of Southern California, says has been happening to him.

According to KLTA5 News in Los Angeles, Greenstein replaced his home’s grass with artificial turf in January in an effort to conserve water. Since then, he claims to have accumulated over $4,000 in fines from his homeowners’ association, which claims the replacement was made without proper architectural approval. When Greenstein refused to remove the turf, the homeowners’ association began fining him $50 a day.

The homeowners’ association says that Greenstein wasn’t fined for having turf, but for installing it without prior approval. Greenstein’s homeowners’ association passed a ban on artificial turf on front lawns in 2008, and said that there wasn’t enough interest to change the rule when the association recently reconsidered it.

The state Assembly’s bill seeking to block cities from leveraging fines on residents with brown lawns passed 74 to 0, and now goes to the state Senate for a consideration. Lawmakers are also considering a bill that would prevent homeowners’ associations from prohibiting homeowners to install turf as a water conservation measure.

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