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Santa Clarita Valley faces landscape-watering limitations

Posted: July 30, 2014 6:48 p.m.
Updated: July 30, 2014 6:48 p.m.

Under a plan proposed to meet state water-use demands, Santa Clarita Valley lawns could soon be watered only every other day — and never on Saturday.

Water officials have unveiled two proposed landscape-watering schedules — a summer schedule and a winter one — that are expected to be endorsed within the month by local water agencies charged with enforcing California’s new water-use regulations.

Residents could water their yards only three days a week during the summer schedule — April to October — and two days a week during the winter schedule — November to March. The days of the week would be determined by their addresses.

Some homeowners are already nervous over the prospect of upsetting their homeowner associations when they stop watering their lawns.

Their dilemma? Obey the new water rules and risk being cited by their HOAs, or disobey the rules and get fined up to $500 a day by their water agencies.

Plum Canyon resident Susan Wright called The Signal Wednesday to report she was concerned about the day’s story on proposed water use cutbacks, “specifically the proposed watering schedule.”

“My husband and I live in the newly built homes in Plum Canyon that are governed by the Plum Canyon Homeowners Association,” she said. “The CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions) state that we are required to landscape our front and back yards within six months of taking ownership.

“Although we did not make the six months, we are now completing this landscaping. I am hoping that there will be exceptions to this watering schedule. As you are aware, it is very hot and will be through October.

“If we were to be forced to only water our new landscape three days a week, we would most likely lose most if not all of it,” she said. “It takes time for landscaping to get established.”

No exception to the “prohibited activities” was listed in a water conservation action plan unveiled Tuesday by the Santa Clarita Valley Water Committee,

Those activities include hosing down driveways, washing cars without shut-off nozzles, and allowing water to run onto sidewalks and streets. Fines could mount up to $500 a day.

Exceptions. protections
But committee Chairman Steve Cole said Wednesday that some exceptions are being considered in the less cut-and-dried regulations being imposed by water districts.

The discrepancy between HOA demands and state water-use demands “is a huge issue,” he said. “The HOA thing is something we’ll need all hands on deck to resolve.”

Phone and email messages left for a manager of Property Management Professionals LLC, which manages the Plum Canyon Homeowners Association, were not immediately returned Wednesday.

However, state legislators last week offered homeowners some protection against retaliatory HOAs.

During the drought emergency, local governments and homeowner associations can no longer penalize residents for allowing their lawns to dry up and turn brown under a law approved by legislators that took effect last week. And that won’t change as long as the state’s declared drought remains in effect.

The new law signed this month prohibits HOAs “from imposing a fine or assessment against a member ... for reducing or eliminating watering of vegetation or lawns during any period for which the governor has declared a state of emergency ... due to drought.”

Carrots, not sticks
Santa Clarita Valley resident Roberta Dey said she would prefer a water-use regulating system that rewards instead of punishes.

“A reward system would be much better than being penalized,” she said Wednesday. “Rather than having neighbors ratting out each other, which is a total turnoff, my suggestion is that they hand out rewards to all of us who work to conserve.”

Local water officials introduced their watering schedules as a way of getting people to change their water use habits, Cole said Wednesday during a meeting with The Signal Editorial Board.

The retailers — Valencia Water Company, Newhall County Water District, Santa Clarita Water Division and Los Angeles County Waterworks No. 36 — are expected to tweak the recommended action plan according to the direction provided by each of their respective boards.

Regulations — including yard-watering restrictions — could be in place in most of the Santa Clarita Valley by the end of August.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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