Amended in Senate August 17, 2015

Amended in Senate June 17, 2015

Amended in Assembly May 22, 2015

Amended in Assembly May 5, 2015

California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 349


Introduced by Assembly Member Gonzalez

(Coauthors: Assembly Members Dodd and Lackey)

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(Coauthor: Senator Galgiani)

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February 17, 2015


An act to amend Section 4735 of the Civil Code, relating to common interest developments, and declaring the urgency thereof, to take effect immediately.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 349, as amended, Gonzalez. Common interest developments: property use and maintenance.

The Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act governs the management and operation of common interest developments. Existing law provides that, unless otherwise provided in the common interest development declaration, the association is responsible for repairing, replacing, or maintaining the common area, other than exclusive use common area, and the owner of each separate interest is responsible for maintaining that separate interest and any exclusive use common area appurtenant to that interest. Existing law makes void and unenforceable any provision of the governing documents or architectural or landscaping guidelines or policies that prohibits use of low water-using plants, or prohibits or restricts compliance with water-efficient landscape ordinances or regulations on the use of water, as specified.

Existing law also prohibits an association, except an association that uses recycled water for landscape irrigation, from imposing a fine or assessment on separate interest owners for reducing or eliminating watering of vegetation or lawns during any period for which the Governor has declared a state of emergency or the local government has declared a local emergency due to drought.

This bill wouldbegin delete alsoend delete make void and unenforceable any provision of the governing documents or architectural or landscaping guidelines or policies that prohibits use of artificial turf or any other synthetic surface that resembles grass.

This bill would also prohibit a requirement that an owner of a separate interest remove or reverse water-efficient landscaping measures, installed in response to a declaration of a state of emergency, upon the conclusion of the state of emergency.

This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.

Vote: 23. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no. State-mandated local program: no.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

P2    1

SECTION 1.  

The Legislature hereby finds and declares:

2(a) With the lowest snowpack ever recorded, California finds
3itself in 2015 in the fourth year of a historic, prolonged, and
4potentially devastating drought.

5(b) Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued an Executive Order
6on April 1, 2015, which, for the first time in California history,
7directs the State Water Resources Control Board to implement
8mandatory water reductions across the state to reduce water usage
9by 25 percent.

10(c) One component of the Governor’s Executive Order compels
11the replacement of 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the
12state with drought tolerant landscaping.

13(d) Among a wide variety of drought tolerant landscaping are
14a variety of native plants and landscaping alternatives, including
15the installation of synthetic grass or artificial turf.

P3    1(e) According to the Department of Water Resources, landscape
2irrigation represents 43 percent of urban water use. The installation
3of artificial turf or synthetic grass, in lieu of conventional lawns
4and landscapes, can directly reduce outdoor water use to help meet
5the Governor’s mandated 25-percent statewide water use reduction.

6(f) The vast majority of Californians may today elect to install
7artificial turf or synthetic grass in their single-family residential
8landscapes. Homeowners within common interest developments
9should also be afforded a similar opportunity within appropriate
10design, aesthetic, and drainage standards defined by their
11homeowners’ association.

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SEC. 2.  

Section 4735 of the Civil Code is amended to read:

13

4735.  

(a) Notwithstanding any other law, a provision of the
14governing documents or architectural or landscaping guidelines
15or policies shall be void and unenforceable if it does any of the
16following:

17(1) Prohibits, or includes conditions that have the effect of
18prohibiting, the use of low water-using plants as a group or as a
19replacement of existing turf.

20(2) Prohibits, or includes conditions that have the effect of
21prohibiting, the use of artificial turf or any other synthetic surface
22that resembles grass.

23(3) Has the effect of prohibiting or restricting compliance with
24either of the following:

25(A) A water-efficient landscape ordinance adopted or in effect
26pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 65595 of the Government
27Code.

28(B) Any regulation or restriction on the use of water adopted
29pursuant to Section 353 or 375 of the Water Code.

30(b) This section shall not prohibit an association from applying
31landscaping rules established in the governing documents, to the
32extent the rules fully conform with subdivision (a).

33(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this part, an
34association, except an association that uses recycled water, as
35defined in Section 13050 of the Water Code, for landscaping
36irrigation, shall not impose a fine or assessment against an owner
37of a separate interest for reducing or eliminating the watering of
38vegetation or lawns during any period for which either of the
39 following have occurred:

P4    1(1) The Governor has declared a state of emergency due to
2drought pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 8558 of the
3Government Code.

4(2) A local government has declared a local emergency due to
5drought pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 8558 of the
6Government Code.

7(d) An owner of a separate interest upon which water-efficient
8landscaping measures have been installed in response to a
9declaration of a state of emergency described in subdivision (c)
10shall not be required to reverse or remove the water-efficient
11landscaping measures upon the conclusion of the state of
12emergency.

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SEC. 3.  

This act is an urgency statute necessary for the
14immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety within
15the meaning of Article IV of the Constitution and shall go into
16immediate effect. The facts constituting the necessity are:

17There have been numerous stories across the state regarding
18discrimination against homeowners by a homeowner’s association
19when the homeowners attempt to replace their water-intensive
20lawns with artificial grass. California is in the fourth year of a
21drought with no end in sight. Governor Brown has ordered a 25
22percent statewide reduction in urban water consumption and
23ordered that Californians take out 50 million square feet of lawns
24to conserve water. Because residential landscaping accounts for
2535 percent of urban water usage statewide, allowing homeowners
26the freedom to use conservation-friendly landscaping will be one
27important ingredient in reaching our mandatory water reduction
28goals as soon as possible.

29Throughout California, homeowners are subject to stricter water
30conservation regulations. While in the middle of a water shortage
31crisis, homeowner associations are not allowing homeowners to
32make voluntary sacrificesbegin delete and are still forcing them to maintain
33grass lawns,end delete
begin insert by installing artificial grass,end insert andbegin insert areend insert fining them if
34they are out of compliance. This act ensures that all homeowners
35have the right to better conserve water by voluntarily replacing
36grass with artificial grass. Property owners who pursue water
37conservationbegin insert by installing artificial grassend insert should be encouraged,
P5    1not sued or fined. Thus, this act is necessary for the immediate
2preservation of the public peace, health, and safety.



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