A bill allowing residents of homeowners associations to install artificial turf without fear of fines was approved unanimously this week by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The measure by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, was overwhelmingly approved in the Assembly in May and subsequently had been endorsed by another Senate panel. Assembly Bill 349 is now headed to the full Senate for a vote.
“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 in a release. “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.”
Many HOAs in the state prohibit fake grass on front lawns, and threaten residents with fines if they break the rules. Gonzalez’s bill would eliminate that HOA authority.
The bill expands on 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 amid the fourth year of drought.
In a release, Gonzalez noted that the San Diego County Water Authority says 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 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 AB 349 is a key piece to achieving the state’s conservation goals.
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