Capitol Alert

Fines for brown lawns blocked by bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown

For Californians caught between a drought and a brown space, a newly signed bill could offer some relief.

Introduced amid a withering drought, Assembly Bill 2100 bars homeowners associations in common interest developments from fining residents who stop watering their lawns during drought emergencies. Gov. Jerry Brown declared such an emergency back in January and has signed AB 2100, his office announced Monday.

Since the law applies only to homeowners associations, it would not aid a Los Angeles area couple facing a $500 penalty from the city of Glendora for letting their lawn languish. According to a bill analysis, common interest developments – a category that encompasses condominiums and some apartment projects – account for some 4.9 million housing units statewide.

California has taken the unprecedented step of authorizing a $500 penalty for wasting water, so Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, called her AB 2100 necessary to ensure no one is punished for complying. The law takes effect immediately.

"Legislation is needed to ensure we're not sending mixed messages about the importance of saving water," said Campos chief of staff Sailaja Rajappan.

The bill was one of nearly two dozen measures Brown announced signing Monday. Among others, he signed legislation giving state income tax relief to homeowners who sold their homes in short sales or obtained loan modifications last year.

Assembly Bill 1393, by Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno, was expected to save taxpayers about $39 million.

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