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Law stops homeowner associations from fining residents for brown lawns during droughts

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SACRAMENTO, California — Homeowner associations can no longer slap fines on residents with dry, brown lawns during droughts under legislation that took effect Monday.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB2100 following an April emergency order prohibiting homeowner associations from penalizing residents who conserve water in a declared drought.

Democratic Assemblywoman Nora Campos of San Jose introduced the bill after a San Lorenzo man was threatened by his homeowner association with up to $1,000 in fines for not watering his lawn. The warning came even after the governor declared a drought emergency in January.

AB2100 extends the prohibition on retaliating against homeowners conserving water to future droughts declared by the state or local governments. Other fines for landscaping issues, including weeds and vegetation in fire-prone areas, are still permitted.

Another bill moving through the Legislature, AB2104, prevents homeowner associations from punishing owners for installing drought-resistant landscaping.

Neither the law nor the governor's executive order addresses fees imposed by local governments. Some agencies have been warning residents for not watering their lawns even as the state authorizes penalties for overwatering lawns and touts "Brown is the New Green" in a new drought-busting campaign.

AB1636 would have prohibited local fines, but Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, dropped the measure in part because AB2100 was advancing.

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