The California drought has officially been acknowledged as coming to an end. While this is great news for the residents of California, it’s not back to the normal day-to-day management of homeowners association just yet.
Desperate times called for desperate measures, which meant enforcing some strict water conservation efforts that trickled down to HOA communities through emergency legislation in the Davis-Stirling Act. If you’re an HOA board member in California, it’s important to be aware of what the official end of the drought means for your Association.
Posted by: The Orange County Register
HOA Homefront: Drought emergency is over, so back to business as usual?
On April 7, 2017, Gov. Jerry Brown issued executive order B-40-17, formally ending the drought emergency. The order is not only confirmation of good news for California but also immediately changes the applicability of two important statutes in the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act.
The Declaration of Drought Emergency was issued by Brown on Jan. 17, 2014, the culmination of several water conservation orders. Shortly after that declaration, the California legislature swiftly passed emergency legislation, adding certain protections to the Davis-Stirling Act regarding water conservation.
Civil Code 4735(c) prohibited associations from fining or assessing an owner who let their yard “go brown” by not watering it during a declared state of drought emergency. Now that the statewide emergency declaration is rescinded, the statewide prohibition against enforcing landscape maintenance obligations against owners who refused to water their yards also has ended. This section still may apply if a local jurisdiction (city or county) has its own declaration of drought emergency still in place, so managers and boards would be well advised to check with their local jurisdiction for any such local declaration.
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Even though it’s the end of the drought emergency, HOA boards cannot require homeowners to remove any modifications they made – such as drought resistant landscaping or the installation of artificial turf. The previous water conservation provisions have become inactive in the Civil Code, but have not been removed. The laws will apply again the next time there is a drought emergency.
The architectural guidelines and HOA rules for your Association should be enough to keep your neighborhood looking presentable, even with any drought modifications that were made. It may be a good time to re-visit these and update them if needed.
Laws are constantly being added, deleted or updated every year and it’s crucial that your HOA board stays compliant and informed. It can be confusing to keep up with it all, especially for Boards made up of volunteers.
If your Board feels like it doesn’t have the time and resources to keep up with every-changing laws, contact a trustworthy HOA management company to help.