CALIFORNIA – It’s wrong to fine owner for not watering lawn during drought

Los Angeles Times: Q&A – It’s wrong to fine owner for not watering lawn during drought
By Donie Vanitzian
June 13, 2015
Question: My homeowner association board won’t let me plant drought-resistant vegetation, saying it’s not in keeping with a “theme of luxury homes” and is contrary to architectural and landscape rules. Because of California’s severe drought I stopped watering my front lawn and removed all flowers. Once my grass turned brown the board ordered me to replant flowers and water the lawn.Management sent me a letter saying that I violated the covenants, conditions and restrictions and that I will continue to be fined until the flowers are replanted and the lawn turns green through sufficient watering. Today I got a letter and invoice indicating additional fees and interest charges for “noncompliance” of maintaining my property. The board also is threatening to place a lien on my home if I don’t pay and if I disobey their orders. Is this right?

Answer: No, it’s not right, and the board cannot order you to water the lawn. Under these circumstances, additional fees and interest charges for noncompliance of maintaining your property should be removed immediately.

The excuse for watering in keeping with a “theme of luxury homes” is pure nonsense. Under Civil Code section 4735(a), a provision of the governing documents or architectural or landscaping guidelines or policies shall be void and unenforceable if it prohibits the use of low-water-using plants or as a replacement of existing turf.  Read more:

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