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Drought bill targets homeowner association rules

Posted: April 3, 2014 6:11 p.m.
Updated: April 3, 2014 6:11 p.m.
 

A bill approved nearly unanimously by the Assembly on Thursday would protect people in homeowner associations from retribution if they take steps to reduce water use for landscaping.

It also would help Santa Clarita Valley conserve water, said one local water official.

AB2104 passed the Assembly on a 71-1 vote without debate. The bill would mean homeowner associations, apartment projects and housing cooperatives could not ban water-saving plants or prohibit their members from following local water conservation rules.

The bill’s author, Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego, says associations have been finding ways to force their members to maintain lush lawns despite existing laws that seek to protect homeowners. Her bill aims to reduce any loopholes that associations can take advantage of.

It now heads to the Senate.

Four other bills targeting homeowner associations would spare homeowners from fines for letting their lawns die during a drought.

“I think this bill would certainly give folks a lot more flexibility when it comes to looking for alternatives to watering turf,” said Dirk Marks, water resources manager for the Santa Clarita Valley’s water wholesaler, the Castaic Lake Water Agency.

“I supported AB 2104 because it is a sensible measure, said Assemblyman Steve Fox, D-Palmdale, whose district takes in part of the Santa Clarita Valley.

“People should be installing drought-tolerant landscaping in a drought. This law supports the concept that we are all part of the solution in this water crisis.”

In February, the Santa Clarita Valley Water Committee, made up of local water purveyors, ordered residents and businesses to cut water consumption by 20 percent. Although the order included no penalties, committee members called it a mandate.

A bill that protects homeowners from HOAs demanding water usage would help the Santa Clarita Valley in meeting a 20 percent reduction, Marks said.

“Many HOAs regularly require a minimum amount of turf-watering,” he said. “This would give folks a lot more flexibility when it comes to conserving water during this drought.”

Last month, The Signal asked property management companies that deal with HOAs just how flexible associations are about lawn alternatives.

They indicated at least some HOAs today are more lenient, understanding and tolerant of water-saving measures than HOAs of five or 10 years ago.

“Green lawn alternatives are seriously considered by homeowner associations these days,” said Brad Watson, owner and founder of Property Management Professionals, which represents several homeowner associations in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“I’m seeing a trend with (homeowner) associations now being more accepting when it comes to drought-tolerant options,” he said in a recent interview. “Associations and their boards of directors are shifting toward a drought-tolerant approach to landscaping.

“I even have large master plans updated to include architectural guidelines that allow for artificial turf,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

jholt@signalscv.com
661-287-5527


on Twitter @jamesarthurholt

 

 

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