Thursday, August 18

California HOAs Clash with Residents Over Anti-Drought Measures

The drought in California is hitting everyone on the east coast hard, but are homeowners associations doing enough to help their residents save water?

A resident of the San Ramon neighborhood in Twin Creeks is locked in a battle with her HOA for a surprising reason, given the current situation. The association is objecting to her installation of a drought-resistant yard.

Fran Paxton was met with resistance when she replaced her sod lawn with a type of mint that requires much less water to stay green and healthy. She claims she’s just trying to be a good citizen. Her HOA claims that she’s damaging the appearance of the neighborhood.

The local water district was so pleased with the landscaping job that they gave her a rebate on the lawn makeover, but the Twin Creeks Homeowners Association is threatening to fine her $50 a month until she installs sod instead, which they say “would look better.”

“Just seems to me that’s unreasonable,” real estate attorney Michael Mau told CBS San Fransisco. The mint will grow in to mimic the appearance of grass, Paxton says, while many of her neighbors’ sod lawns are brown and dead, or don’t have lawns at all.

The HOA fine might be illegal in addition to unreasonable, Mau told CBS San Fransisco. The law can strike down HOA fines leveled at residents for not watering their lawns or installing water-saving plants.

An HOA in San Diego is also in hot water over the severe drought. Team 10 investigated Autumn Crest HOA Property Management after resident Andrea Gonzales sent in a video of sprinklers running all night in her development.

She said the problem has been constant and sprinklers would run anywhere from 5 to 12 hours at a time.

When she complained to the management company, she was told that valves were broken, but when no change occurred, she called Team 10. When Team 10 investigated, they were given stories from landscapers and the management company about broken valves and repeated sprinkler vandalism.

Gonzales believes they’re just making excuses, since police were never called about the vandalism and residents weren’t notified.

According to the property management company, they’re working to hire a security system for the sprinklers to keep the problem from happening again.

Do you think HOAs have a responsibility to change their policies to accommodate drought season? Let us know in the comments!

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