Watering During Droughts

California’s recurrent drought problems have prompted governmental action designed to promote water conservation measures within residential homeowners associations. For example, legislation in recent years has served to provide homeowners with rights to install low water-using plants, artificial turf and clotheslines regardless of whether an association’s governing documents (i.e., its CC&Rs or architectural standards) contain provisions prohibiting the use of such items. (See also Civ. Code §§ 4735, 4750.10.)

Legislation has also been enacted to limit an association’s ability to fine homeowners for failing to water their lawns or vegetation during government-declared drought periods:

“…an association shall not impose a fine or assessment against an owner of a separate interest for reducing or eliminating the watering of vegetation or lawns during any period for which either of the following have occurred: (1) The Governor has declared a state of emergency due to drought… (2) A local government has declared a local emergency due to drought…” (Civ. Code § 4735(c).)

*Exception: Owner Properties that Receive Recycled Water
An association is still permitted to impose a fine or assessment against an owner for failing to water his lawn or vegetation during a government-declared drought period provided that the owner, prior to being fined or assessed, “receives recycled water…and fails to use that recycled water for landscaping irrigation.” (Civ. Code § 4735(d).)