Water-wise Landscaping In Homeowners' Association Communities
Under current law, a unit owners' association (association) of a common interest community may not prohibit the use of xeriscape, nonvegetative turf grass, or drought-tolerant vegetative landscapes to provide ground covering to property for which a unit owner is responsible. There is, however, an exception authorizing an association to adopt and enforce design or aesthetic guidelines or rules that apply to nonvegetative turf grass and drought-tolerant vegetative landscapes or to regulate the type, number, and placement of drought-tolerant plantings and hardscapes that may be installed on a unit owner's property, on a limited common element, or on other property for which the unit owner is responsible.
The bill states that an association's guidelines or rules must:
- Not prohibit the use of nonvegetative turf grass in the backyard of a unit owner's property;
- Not unreasonably require the use of hardscape on more than 20% of the landscaping area of a unit owner's property;
- Allow a unit owner an option that consists of at least 80% drought-tolerant plantings; and
- Not prohibit vegetable gardens in the front, back, or side yard of a unit owner's property.
The bill also requires an association to permit the installation of at least 3 garden designs that are preapproved by the association for installation in front yards within the common interest community. To be preapproved, a garden design must adhere to the principles of water-wise landscaping and emphasize drought-tolerant and native plants.
The bill allows a unit owner who is affected by an association's violation of the new requirements to bring a civil action to restrain further violation and to recover damages in an amount equal to actual damages plus $500, plus any other damages, costs, and reasonable attorney fees.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)