Homeowners who let grass go brown to save water during California drought could face fines

Posted at 5:47 AM, May 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-22 10:36:38-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Homeowners who let their grass go brown to save money during the drought may have to turn the sprinklers back on, or else their HOA can fine them.

In April, Gov. Jerry Brown declared the drought over for most parts of California, lifting restrictions that kept homeowners associations from disciplining residents who stopped watering their grass to help save money and water.

However, those days are over, and HOAs are starting to require families to make all their grass green again.

This month, the 4S Ranch Board of Directors informed its residents that dead grass is no longer acceptable.

Resident Alex Mauts, who let some of his grass go brown during the drought, said he would have to adjust it back.

"Now we understand what's happening here now we can go in and re-seed," said Mauts, who saved hundreds by reducing his sprinkler time during the drought.

RELATED: Updated info on residents' water rights

He also replaced about half of the grass in his front yard with mulch. It was a $400 move that could pay off big.

State law doesn't allow HOAs to force residents to remove water-saving landscapes they installed during the drought.

George Kostyrko, a spokesman for the State Water Resources Control Board, said HOAs generally give residents 30 days to make the changes, although that's not state law.

The state keeps a fact sheet for residents of an HOA who want to know their rights when it comes to water-saving landscapes.