Question: The homeowner's association in my "planned
community" does not allow artificial
grass in my yard. What are my options?
Answer: You should point the administration of your HOA to a
new extension AB 349 of the bill AB 2104 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez,
D-San Diego. AB 2104 required a common interest developments to adopt a updated
model ordinance regarding water-efficient landscapes that are effective in
conserving water. New assembly bill AB 349 prohibits HOAs impose a fine or
assessment on separate interest owners for use of artificial grass or any other
synthetic surface that resembles grass, unless your homeowner association uses
recycled water for landscape irrigation.
"We face a very real water shortage that challenges many of
our old habits, and there's nothing fake about our responsibility to find ways
to conserve wherever we can," Gonzalez said. "All Californians have tough
benchmarks for reducing their water use, and it's our job to make sure
homeowners have every opportunity to achieve the conservation we need."
At the time of California historic drought, this act is an
urgency statue shall go into immediate effect. Numerous homeowner associations
discriminated and fined homeowners who attempted to replace their water-thirsty
lawns with synthetic grass.
Morrison Ranch Estates Homeowners' Association fined Agoura
Hills homeowner, Greg Greenstein who replaced the grass on his property with
artificial grass in his effort to conserve water, with more than $4,000 and
demanded to remove the new lawn.
Rancho Pacifica, a gated community of multimillion-dollar
homes in the hills east of Del Mar, prohibited a retired couple, Brian and
Frances Holloway, who live in a palatial 9,000-square-foot Mediterranean to get
rid of the water- sucking front lawn. They fine them $50 per day until the lawn
La Costa Valley HOA, Carlsbad, CA turned down Val Buonaiuto, who planned to
install artificial grass in his front yard.
In Carlsbad, California James Zemel installed synthetic
lawns in his front and backyards. According to LAtimes he spent $14,000, and
his monthly bill has dropped to $38. His water district sent him a thank you
letter for his conservation effort. However, his HOA has demanded to remove the
grass from his front yard, and threaten him with fines and legal action.
Las Costa Green HOA is one of the few in San Diego County
that allows fake grass on front lawns.
Its resident, Rocky Wilson, grandfathered synthetic grass installation
in his home, in 2006.
The first bill didn't include artificial grass as a part of
the water-efficient landscape. Gonzales said she held back because of Brown's
past opposition to protections. In 2011, the governor said individual HOAs
should make the decision, not state government. Residents outside of homeowners
associations are free to install fake grass with few, if any, restrictions. But
in 2015, California found itself in the fourth year of severe and potentially
Landscape irrigation, according to the Department of Water
Resources draws 43 percent of residential water use. The installation of
artificial grass, instead of traditional landscapes and lawns, can directly
decrease outdoor water use to support the Governor's mandated 25-percent
statewide water use reduction.
During the state of emergency, declared by Jerry Brown on
July 1, 2015, homeowners associations are prohibited to fine and discriminated
the members who are installing artificial grass on their front lawns.
Throughout California, homeowners are subject to strict water conservation
ordinances. While in the middle of a water deficiency crisis, homeowner
associations are not allowing members to perform deliberate sacrifices and are
still forcing them to keep grass lawns, and fining them. AB 349 ensures that
all homeowners have the right to conserve water by replacing grass with
The bill stated that "Property owners who pursue water
conservation should be encouraged, not sued or fined. Thus, this act is
necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and