A proposed bill before the California legislature, if passed into law, would require HOAs to be slightly less insane and more in touch with reality, where things like “historic statewide droughts” and “complying with the law” are concerned.
Assembly bill 2104, available in .pdf form here, would prohibit homeowners' associations from requiring residents to maintain water-intensive lawns in drought conditions; no longer could your HOA fine you for refusing to break the law.
As CBS' Los Angeles affiliate reported, the bill would prevent HOAs from “implementing any ban on water-saving plants or prohibit[ing] their members from following local water conservation rules. … California lawmakers are also considering four other bills targeting homeowner associations that would spare homeowners from fines for letting their lawns die during a drought.”
You might be wondering “Are these bills really necessary? Surely no homeowners' association would be crazy enough to fine people for having brown lawns in a drought.”
Sure they would; by HOA-behavior standards it's nothing unusual. Here are some other examples of HOA stories we've covered in just the past few months: last November, an HOA in Austin, Texas, was reminded (yet again) that it was legally obligated to remove a certain fence it had installed, preventing disabled HOA residents from accessing a nearby bus stop.
That same week, an HOA in Las Vegas lost its long and drawn-out legal battle against one of its own residents: a family with a disabled son, who required an ambulance for his frequent medical visits. The HOA tried banning the ambulance, in violation of federal laws prohibiting discrimination against the disabled.
Two weeks later, a California couple filed a lawsuit against their HOA, which did not allow children to play outside their own houses, and an HOA in Denver sought to ban “small farm animals” such as rabbits and chickens, despite a city sustainable-living ordinance allowing them in non-obtrusive numbers.
And in December, residents of a Texas neighborhood plagued by frequent burglaries were ordered by their HOA to remove the burglar bars they'd installed on their windows, presumably based on the logic “Better to see a neighbor's house burgled than see a neighbor's house with burglar bars.”
In other words: fining homeowners who let their lawns turn brown in compliance with legal water-conservation mandates is nothing unusual, by HOA-behavior standards.