BILL ANALYSIS Ó SENATE TRANSPORTATION & HOUSING COMMITTEE BILL NO: AB 2104 SENATOR MARK DESAULNIER, CHAIRMAN AUTHOR: gonzalez VERSION: 4/1/14 Analysis by: Mark Stivers FISCAL: no Hearing date: June 10, 2014 SUBJECT: Common interest developments: low-water-using plants DESCRIPTION: This bill clarifies that existing law voiding common interest development prohibitions on the use of low-water-using plants covers guidelines and policies and also voids prohibitions against using low-water-using plants as replacement of existing turf. ANALYSIS: A common interest development (CID) is a real property development that includes all of the following: (1) separate ownership of a lot or unit coupled with an undivided interest in common property, (2) covenants, conditions, and restrictions that limit use of both the common area and separate ownership interests, and (3) management of common property and enforcement of restrictions by a community association, which a board of directors, generally elected, governs. Condominiums, planned unit developments, stock cooperatives, community apartments, and many resident-owned mobile home parks all fall under the CID umbrella. The Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act is the principal law that governs CIDs in California. Among other things, the Davis-Stirling Act provides that any provision of the governing documents is void and unenforceable if it prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting the use of low-water-using plants as a group, or if it prohibits compliance with a public water-efficient landscape ordinance or water use regulation. This bill clarifies that the law voiding CID prohibitions on the use of low-water-using plants covers architectural or landscaping guidelines and policies and also voids CID AB 2104 (GONZALEZ) Page 2 prohibitions against using low-water-using plants as replacement of existing turf. COMMENTS: 1.Purpose of the bill . According to the author, notwithstanding state law's clear intent to promote water conservation by voiding CID governing document provisions prohibiting low-water-using plants, some CIDs have circumvented the law by adopting less formal policies that have the same effect. These CIDs justify their actions by alleging that the policies are not part of the "governing documents." This bill reinforces the intent of existing law by making clear that CIDs cannot use the artifice of placing prohibitions against the use of drought-tolerant landscaping in guidelines, policies, or ad hoc decisions of the board of directors, instead of in the governing documents of the CID per se. The bill further states clearly that homeowners are permitted to replace water-intensive lawns with aesthetic drought-tolerant landscaping. This is particularly timely given the current drought emergency. 2.Declaratory of existing law . Informal CID policies that a board or committee may use to arrive at decisions derive from the powers vested with the board in the governing documents of the CID. As a result, such policies are an extension of the governing documents and therefore covered by existing law. This bill simply clarifies the issue with express language to assist lay directors in interpreting the law. Ultimately, this bill is declaratory of existing law. 3.Chaptering conflicts . This bill has chaptering conflicts with SB 992 (Nielsen) and AB 2100 (Campos). The author will need to resolve these conflicts before final passage. Assembly Votes: Floor: 75-2 H&CD: 7-0 RELATED LEGISLATION: SB 992 (Nielsen) prohibits a CID from imposing a fine or assessment against an owner for yard maintenance issues related to under-watered plants and lawns during a drought emergency. AB 2104 (GONZALEZ) Page 3 In the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee. AB 2100 (Campos) prohibits a CID from imposing a fine or assessment against an owner for reducing or eliminating watering of vegetation or lawns during a drought emergency. Set for hearing on June 17 in this committee. POSITIONS: (Communicated to the committee before noon on Wednesday, June 4, 2014.) SUPPORT: Conference of California Bar Associations 7th Generation Advisors Association of California Water Agencies Association of Professional Landscape Designers Bay-Friendly Landscaping and Gardening Coalition California Association of Realtors California Landscape Contractors Association California League of Conservation Voters California Native Plant Society California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation Councilmember Patricia Aguilar, City of Chula Vista Councilmember Mary Salas, City of Chula Vista Desert Water Agency Dirk Poeschel Land Development Services, Inc. East Bay Municipal Utility District EcoLandscape California Environment California Heal the Bay Natural Resources Defense Council Planning and Conservation League The River Project San Diego County Water Authority Sierra Club California Surfrider Foundation TreePeople Western Center on Law and Poverty OPPOSED: None received.