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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




chico: Posted: July 30, 2014 11:02 p.m.

Does UCLA get a $500 fine for watering the sidewalks?

lars1: Posted: July 30, 2014 11:43 p.m.

The government workers are about to steal more money from the citizens.

If you water your lawn and it looks good,
the water police will fine you $500 a day!

If you don't water your lawn and it looks bad,
the city code enforcement officers will fine you $500 a day!

More money to fund government union worker pensions!

missyJk: Posted: July 31, 2014 2:37 a.m.

so i guess no water will be going to the farmers so no chloride plant needed

bobforte: Posted: July 31, 2014 9:51 a.m.

All HOA homeowners. Two weeks ago Jerry Brown signed legislation making it illegal for now for HOAs to fine homeowners for having dead lawns, etc, during this drought.

newsreader1965: Posted: July 31, 2014 11:11 a.m.

With the type of soil that most of this valley has, if you water more than about 7 minutes it will run off of our yard. There is way too much clay in our soil for you to water longer than that. So my question would be can we water as many times as we want on those days??? All it says above is that you can only water on certain days, but not how many times you water on those days?? I get that there is a shortage of water, but it would be better to water more often at night and for a shorter period of time then to force people to water for longer periods of time less often. Just a thought.

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: July 31, 2014 11:26 a.m.

Who do we report the city's abuse to? How about the Creekside post office, will they be fined daily for sidewalk runoff and badly aimed sprinklers?

chefgirl358: Posted: July 31, 2014 11:45 a.m.

Egbert, you read my mind. The city govt of SCV AND the Creekside USPS are the biggest offenders around. That post office has been soaking wet and flooding the surrounding streets and sidewalks EVERY DAY as long as I can remember. My husband and I literally determine which car is the least clean so we can determine which one to drive to get the mail since neither of us wants to take our clean cars through the onslaught of water.

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: July 31, 2014 1:16 p.m.

Apparently, there is a gnat infestation at Central Park, as reported by KHTS. And here is the answer from the official that went out to the park to do the investigation.

"The official mentioned overwatering and a cluttered drainage system as part of the problem, which would make a breeding ground for gnats, Fortner said."

OVERWATERING!!!!!! So..... how do I report them?

scvmom87cp: Posted: July 31, 2014 2:15 p.m.

Those living in HOA's STOP freaking out about being fined, as bobforte correctly mentions the State has told HOA Boards to back off. Get over the fact that your community (I live in an HOA and work for one)won't look perfect and green. WE ARE IN A SEVERE DROUGHT! Having water inside our homes for our families is more important than our landscape looking good. The HOA's, the city and other businesses need to STOP overwatering. One of the biggest water wasters is the Hart School District. The fields at Sierra Vista especially are swampy, too thick and bugs everywhere. EVERYONE needs to adjust timers, valves and pay attention to what is happening in their own yards. And yes, we need to "rat out" those that are sending our precious water down the gutters and drains.

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: July 31, 2014 2:36 p.m.

"The HOA's, the city and other businesses need to STOP overwatering."

Exactly. Try walking across the grass at Summit Park and see how much your feet sink into that marsh.

17trillion: Posted: July 31, 2014 2:43 p.m.

You wont need to rat me out SCVmom, unless you or your ilk plan on being up at 3am. I for one will not change my habits one bit unless you count being more sneaky. Until we stop flushing billions of gallons into the Pacific to save a bait fish that may or may not need saving, I say screw you!

SReilly12: Posted: July 31, 2014 2:43 p.m.

A few months back we added some new plants, etc to our yard. Within weeks, everything looked like it was on the death march to my trash can. Took a sample into Green Thumb and was told my plants needed more water. Kinda of laughed about that because we watered every NIGHT! Bingo....Green Thumb advised me that plants shouldn't be watered after 4:00 PM. They, just like us are thirsty when its hot not in the middle of the night. Also, watering at night brings pests, mold, etc. We changed it up and must say everything looks the best that it ever has and we are watering less.

Last night we were over by the mall and on our drive home 10:00ish all the sprinklers going down the boulevard were on. If what Green Thumb told me is correct, and I have no reason to doubt them, wouldn't it be better for the city to water during the day........

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: July 31, 2014 3:02 p.m.

SReilly12: We don't water in the middle of the day because of the extreme evaporation rates. However, the wee hours of the morning works very well, right before the sun comes up. Shouldn't be any hassle at all with timers set up.

SCV4ALL: Posted: July 31, 2014 3:51 p.m.

I love the fact that the city added live plants on Railraod (Median)that will need water. and along Wiley, they recently added new plants to the median

Signaler2004: Posted: July 31, 2014 4:08 p.m.

News Flash! HOA boards devise an approved color palette in shades of green when mandatory spray painting of dried grass is instituted.
Gotta keep our town looking awesome. --edited.

BlueGoldgirl: Posted: July 31, 2014 5:04 p.m.

Where is Dr. HOA when you need him?

With that being said, I am sure the better association management companies will use common sense and best business practice to handle the compliance issue re: brown lawns. Discuss with your boards, read the legal opinions out there from HOA attornies and come to an understanding of how to handle the situation. Brown lawns should get a pass for a while.

zra: Posted: July 31, 2014 6:10 p.m.

I water my lawn using evapotranspiration data for Santa Clarita.

I water one inch and then let it evaporate off based on those values. Then I add another inch. During the current month I think the sprinklers are running about once every 4 days.

I have no intention of changing my method, so if the water day falls on a "no watering day" too bad. I water in the middle of the night so unless my rat neighbor is a meth head good luck catching.

Stupid policy.

chefgirl358: Posted: July 31, 2014 6:34 p.m.

SReilly, not unless the city wants screaming phone calls from people like me who drive their clean cars through wet roadways due to sprinklers, or swerve due to sprinklers if the other lane is clear. Those things need to be on drip systems!

rosekitten: Posted: July 31, 2014 6:56 p.m.

How does a resident know how their water usage compares to others in their neighborhood? It would be helpful if our water suppliers educated us on that. All I can tell by the bill is if my water usage has gone up or down from last year, and usually that relates to the weather. Of course my water is up a little bit this year because we've had very little rain, so usage during the winter was a bit up, according to my bill. All I know is that my household used 34 units this month and it was just about the same as last year for July. Last year we used 286 units YTD, and we have used 291 units this YTD. We have lived in this house for 46 years … Can my water company give me a printout for the past 25 years and tell me if we are conserving as much as I think we are? Of course when we first moved here we did not have any landscaping at all so our water usage was low. Then, 23 years ago we added a pool, and we now have 300 rose bushes in our landscaping. So obviously our usage is up compared to 46 years ago. But, I want to know how we compare to the past 25 years as our landscaping has filled out, and we subsequently instituted conserving measures. It's all about communication and education. Ratting out is not going to get people to conserve, but will rather encourage hate and cheating.

johnnyrock: Posted: July 31, 2014 6:57 p.m.


SReilly12: Posted: July 31, 2014 9:49 p.m.

chefgirl- LOL I knew that was coming........I'm with you on the water spot issue. Actually complained a few years back about my own watering between 5/6 each night.........right when peeps were coming home.

Egbert - I wasn't real clear in my first post - told to water after 6:00 AM but before 10:00 AM and then if need be - mist flowers etc on really hot, hot days before 4:00.

rosekitten - you are soooooooooo right - people ratting people out is only going to make us fight more among ourselves and I think we do enough of that already.

Can't imagine how Home Depot/Lowes are going to fare with this....they have a return policy - it dies in a year and you can return it. I can just see it now.........stores can't keep plants on the shelves!!!

chefgirl358: Posted: August 1, 2014 2:26 a.m.

SReilly, hadn't thought of Lowe's/Home Depo angle, lol! That's a great point though.

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