AB 786 is a piece of emergency legislation adopted earlier this year in response to California’s drought conditions. The bill clears up an ambiguity created in 2014.
Last year, SB 992 amended Civil Code section 4735 to provide an exception to the law that an association could not take disciplinary action against an owner who failed to water their landscaping in times of a declared drought. However, SB 992 contained confusing language which resulted in associations which used recycled water to irrigate any part of the common area landscaping fining owners when they did not water, even when the owner did not have access to recycled water themselves. This unintended language did nothing to promote water conservation for owners who did not have access to recycled water. AB 786 closes that loophole in the law.
AB 786, which went into immediate effect as emergency legislation, makes clear that associations may only fine an owner for failing to water in times of drought if the owner has access to recycled water for irrigation but refuses to water their landscape. This modification to Civil Code 4735 is more in line with the goal of promoting water conservation in times of drought, and more clearly reflects the legislature’s intent.
Mr. DeNichilo is partner in the law firm Nordberg|DeNichilo, LLP, and specializes in representing homeowners associations throughout Southern California. He is an active member of CAI, and serves on the Legislative Support Committee of the Greater Inland Empire Chapter, acts as co-chair of the Orange County Chapter’s Legislative Support Committee and is the chapter’s liaison to CLAC. He is a frequent speaker at industry and management company educational events. Mr. DeNichilo publishes a blog on association related topics at HOABrief.com. For more information, please visit NDHOALaw.com