Gov. Jerry Brown today signed legislation sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority that prohibits common interest developments (typically governed by homeowners associations, or HOAs) from banning artificial turf. Assembly Bill 349, carried by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego, takes effect immediately and will enhance outdoor water conservation opportunities statewide.
“Californians are making great strides to reduce their water use and hit aggressive benchmarks for conservation, and this new common sense law will give homeowners one more way to save as this drought continues,” Gonzalez said. “The grass may be fake, but the amount of water a homeowner can save by installing it is very real.”
The new law is important because irrigation accounts for more than half of a typical home’s water use in California, and more than a quarter of the state’s housing stock is in common interest developments.
Earlier legislation supported by the Water Authority prevented common interest developments from prohibiting low water-use plants as a group or as replacement for turf grass. In addition, Water Authority-supported legislation prevents HOAs – except those that use recycled water for landscape irrigation – from imposing a fine or assessment on members for reducing or eliminating landscape irrigation when the governor or local government officials have declared an emergency due to drought.
“We need every water conservation tool available during the current drought and for years to come,” said Mark Weston, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “Thanks to Assemblymember Gonzalez, this broadly supported legislation ensures that residents in HOAs have the same freedom as other homeowners to choose how to save water outdoors.”
State-mandated water-use targets for Water Authority member agencies are between 12 and 36 percent below 2013 levels; the countywide average target is 20 percent. Urban potable water use in San Diego County fell by approximately 32 percent in July 2015 compared to July 2013. That follows a decrease of 26 percent in June compared to June 2013 and a 30 percent decline in May.
As a wholesale water agency, the Water Authority coordinates drought response actions for the region. The regional drought response strategy centers on decreasing ornamental landscape irrigation first to minimize the economic disruption caused by cuts to water used by industrial, commercial and farming operations. For information about water-use rules by community, along with details about drought conditions and conservation-related resources, go to www.whenindrought.org.