Roll out that artificial turf: Governor signs bill for HOA’s to install it without fines

Governor Jerry Brown today signed into law a bill authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to provide homeowners governed by homeowner associations (HOAs) the freedom to install artificial turf to lower their water use without fear of fines. The bill was designated by an overwhelming margin of the Legislature to be an urgent matter, meaning the new law will take effect immediately.

“Across the state, Californians are making great strides to reduce their water use and hit aggressive benchmarks for conservation, and this new common sense law will give homeowners one more way to save as this drought continues,” Gonzalez said. “The grass may be fake, but the amount of water a homeowner can save by installing it is very real.”

According to the San Diego County Water Authority, landscape irrigation can account for more than one-half of the average household’s water use.  Because residential water use as a whole makes up 35 percent of urban water use in California, and because more than one-quarter of the state’s entire housing stock are located in common-interest developments (which are typically governed by HOAs), Gonzalez said the new law – Assembly Bill 349 – is a key piece to achieving the state’s conservation goals.

With water and snowpack levels dangerously low throughout the state, California for the first time in its history has instituted mandatory water restrictions with significant possible fines, requiring consumers to find way to reduce their home water use. AB 349 will expand existing protections from HOAs after AB 2104, also authored by Gonzalez, was signed into law last year. The 2014 bill eliminated loopholes HOAs used to prevent homeowners from utilizing low water-using plants when replacing existing lawns, leaving homeowners  interested in lowering their water usage unable to explore additional options for conserving water at a time our state faces severe drought conditions. 

AB 349 will build upon those protections by preventing HOA fines against California homeowners who replace their lush lawns with synthetic turf in their yards.
The bill was approved by the full Assembly on 73-3 vote in May and unanimously by the Senate on Aug. 24.



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