It is great to learn that Home Owner Associations will not change Californians for not watering their lawn. Have you heard the latest rulings? They were in conflict with each other, but now they are resolved. The first ruling was that Governor Brown passed into law a fine for $500/day if somebody overwatered their lawn.
It’s not clear how much water that is, but one clear idea is to make aware those absentminded homeowners who will turn on the sprinklers and completely forget about them. We’ve all seen it from time to time– the sidewalks get just as much water as the grass. The water drains into the gutter in the street and we can hear it cascading down there, right next to the little stamp that says “Don’t Dump in Our Bay.”
So while many lawns are becoming brown, many HOAs began charging homeowners for not keeping up with the watering of their lawn. That was precisely the tension the new laws are trying to address: that HOAs cannot charge homeowners fees for not watering their lawn. (source: article.wn.com)
The priority of conserving water exceeds that of keeping the neighborhood beautiful. In other words, the utilitarian consideration of water conservation trumps the aesthetic needs of the community.
One can make the case that watering lawns are important for property values, but you can only make that case if you put the home values outside the context of the drought. The drought comes first and everything else comes second.
Emerging now are many companies that will offer to spray your lawn with green paint to make it look like your lawn is green. The effect is temporary, lasting anywhere from a few weeks to half a year. Is this a good product?
I think it is a good product, only to accomplish very specific goals. The first is that people use it to sell a house and to give it more appeal. The lawn will be greened only so far as to increase the curb appeal of the property. It should be fully disclosed to the buyer that the lawn was painted, much in the same way it is disclosed that the furniture and window treatments for staging will not stay. If the buyer consents to it, then you have a happy seller and a happy buyer.
That’s one way to use it. The other way to use it is for agents who need a lawn to look green to avoid being flagged by cities or HOAs. Now that HOAs cannot charge a fee for it, this use will probably go down, but there’s no telling if a city can fine an owner of land and say it is a fire hazard if the grass is too dry. My opinion is that the city will not do this.
Honestly, I don’t think the media has caught on to the other possibility that our lawns are not water-friendly to begin with. Nobody really disputes it because part of the idealized form of houses is the white picket fence and the lush, green lawn. Nobody thinks of low-water consuming geraniums and red wood chips when they think of the perfect house.
In other for us to truly survive this drought, we need to divorce the demand for green lawns away from the ideal form of the perfect house. When we do that, we can see truly that grassy lawns are too high maintenance for an area that is low on its water supplies.
I was reading a feature story that commented on how persons who live in Australia are constantly in a season of drought and that they probably do not have grassy lawns. Instead, they have low maintenance gardens and rain collecting barrels that collect rainwater from their gutters. That water is later used to water plants.
I know Alameda County used to give rebates to homeowners who design their front and back yards to consume less water, so the message has been put out there. While the rebate can be offered again, I think the greatest motivator for people to get rid of their lawns is to bring to people’s attention the ecological drawbacks that it possesses and to urge people to have gardens that guzzle far less water.