DROUGHT EMERGENCY and Artificial Turf

DROUGHT EMERGENCY and Artificial Turf

Water drought issues are a constant in Southern California today. Below is an article from the Davis-Stirling.com Newsletter by Adams Kessler regarding Drought emergency and Artificial turf.

Readers asked if the Davis-Stirling Act or the drought emergency voids existing HOA restrictions on artificial turf. Attorney Curt Sproul of the law firm Sproul Trost, LLP provides the answer:

Davis-Stirling. The recent amendment to Civil Code §4735 (dealing with architectural and landscaping guidelines) fell short of prohibiting artificial turf. That amendment said that “architectural or landscape policies are void if they prohibit or include conditions that have the effect of prohibiting the use of low water-using plants as a group or as a replacement of existing turf.” Although low water-using, artificial turf is to plants what a toupee is to real hair.

Governor’s Order. On April 25, 2014, the Governor adopted the following provision:

[HOAs] have reportedly fined or threatened to fine homeowners who comply with water conservation measures…To prevent this practice…I order that any provision of the governing documents, architectural or landscaping guidelines, or policies of a common interest development will be void and unenforceable to the extent [that the provision] has the effect of prohibiting compliance with the water-saving measures contained in this directive, or any conservation measure adopted by a public agency or private water company, any provision of [the Davis-Stirling Act] notwithstanding.

The Order does not mention artificial turf but does indicate that public agencies and private water companies could go further than the restrictions currently set forth in Civil Code §4735 and issue directives overriding HOA restrictions (including those related to artificial turf). That has not yet happened.

SUMMARY.   HOA restrictions on artificial turf are still valid. However, that may change. Currently, there is a bill in the legislature to add the more generic “landscaping” to the statute which, according to the author, would stop HOAs from prohibiting artificial turf (see AB 349).



Drought #1. As usual your newsletter is of current value. Our HOA will take advantage of the SCE offer for power and water saving devices. We will also install separate irrigation water services as that will reduce our potable water rates. -Eric D.

Drought #2. Perfectly timed letter. I applaud your water conservation tips. We converted to all drought resistant landscaping with CA native and Australian native plants, drip irrigation and more. We’ve required conversion to low-flow toilets, faucets, dishwashers, showers since 2007, and adhering to SF’s 2009 ordinance that low-flow conversion must occur during unit sales. A suggestion to HOAs. If landscape is on separate intake line, it may be worth the $5k – $7k to install a separate meter as most counties don’t add a waste water tax as the water goes in the ground, not down the drain. -Joseph L.

Drought #3. PUDs can also pursue installing a new irrigation system to use recycled water for watering the landscape. Talk to your Water District. -Diane W.

Drought #4. Everything you say is right! Unfortunately, nearly all boards are run by retired people who have not kept up with the times and are afraid of changing the landscaping. I would contact the mayors to initiate inspections by qualified engineers. I find native California gardens much more attractive than my over-watered crabgrass. -Mark in MdR

Drought #5. I noticed your Article referencing Water Management for HOA’s – our specialty for over 24 years in California. California Sub-Meters is the oldest and largest Water Sub-meter company in California—something associations should consider. -Tom Rogers, www.CalSubMeter.com


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