On September 4th, Gov. Brown signed AB 349 into law, as an urgency statute – effective immediately. AB 349, which the community Association industry and CAI-CLAC have followed closely, amends Civil Code section 4735 and limits the right of a community association to restrict the use of artificial turf.

Specifically, it renders “void and unenforceable” any provision in governing documents or guidelines which “prohibits, or includes conditions that have the effect of prohibiting, the use of artificial turf or any other synthetic surface that resembles grass.” If an owner installs artificial turf in response to a drought emergency, an association cannot require its removal once the emergency has passed. However, an association may still apply landscaping rules in the governing documents, to the extent the rules “fully conform” to these provisions.

Now that the governor has signed the bill, associations must immediately consider the way they handle members’ requests to install artificial turf. Owners must still submit applications to install artificial turf, if the governing documents require landscape approval. But associations may not use their architectural and landscaping provisions to prohibit owners from installing it.

Associations may still establish guidelines, so long as they do not have the effect of prohibiting artificial turf. Reasonable guidelines might address the color of the turf, its location, drainage, or maybe the percentage of a lot which may be covered with artificial turf. However, associations should recognize the public policy established by this bill favoring artificial turf as a way to reduce water consumption.

John R. MacDowell Fiore Racobs & Powers

John R. MacDowell

John R. MacDowell, Esq. is managing shareholder of Fiore, Racobs & Powers’ Orange County office and is a delegate to CLAC from the Orange County Regional Chapter of CAI. He serves as Co-Chair for CLAC.