State Law Prohibits Cities from Enforcing Brown Lawn Ordinances: Brown is the New Green

By Jennifer Felten

The state of California is a little low on water. In fact, on January 17, 2014, the Governor proclaimed a State of Emergency relative to the water shortage and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to make water immediately available.

Despite the water shortage, local ordinances in many areas require residents to water their lawns and impose penalties on those who fail to comply. Local officials say conserving water and maintaining healthy landscaping are not mutually exclusive goals. They claim that brown lawns drive down property values and suggest that homeowners replace their lawns with drought-resistant landscaping to meet local standards. As Al Baker, the president of the California Association of Code Enforcement Officers put it, “[d]uring a drought or non-drought, residents have the right to maintain their landscaping the way they want to, so long as it’s aesthetically pleasing and it’s not blighted.”

For those more worried about water, like Governor Brown, the conversation of water is of greater concern to the state than the color of one’s lawns. As such, the Governor signed a new law to address this issue. This law, codified in Government Code section 8627.7, states: “During a period for which the Governor has issued a proclamation of a state of emergency under this chapter based on drought conditions, a city, county, or city and county shall not impose a fine under any ordinance for a failure to water a lawn or for having a brown lawn.”

This new law, combined with AB 2100 which prohibited HOA’s from fining residents for having brown lawns back in 2014, is a big win for the “brown is the new green” movement.


Brown is the New Green — No Mowing


Jennifer Felten

Jennifer Felten

Jennifer Felten, Esq., Relaw Ms. Felten specializes in representing both individuals and legal entities, providing representation and guidance on a variety of real estate related matters.  Relaw APC 699 Hampshire Road, Suite 105 Westlake Village, CA  91361 US Phone: (805) 265-1031 or email her at: [email protected]

Upcoming Speaking Events for Ms. Felten:

March 8, 2016-Antelope Valley Escrow Association

March 9, 2016-Ventura County Escrow Association

For inquiries or questions about any of these events, please email [email protected].



One Response to State Law Prohibits Cities from Enforcing Brown Lawn Ordinances: Brown is the New Green

  1. William "Bill" Hicks February 29, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    I sure hope you’re correct.


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