2014 Legislation: SB 992 - Drought and Under-watering Fines

Bill Author: 
Nielsen
Subject: 
Underwatering - Fine Exemptions
Status: 
Signed by Governor.

Update: Signed by Governor on 9/18. 

What Does SB 992 Say?

From the Legislative Counsel's Digest:

This bill would prohibit an association from imposing a fine or assessment on separate interest owners for yard maintenance issues related to under-watered plants and reducing or eliminating watering of vegetation or lawns during any period for which the Governor has declared a state of emergency due to drought.
 

Check out related legislation such as AB 2100 and AB 2104, which approach HOAs and the drought from a different direction.

Effects of SB 992

SB 992 went into immediate effect on Sept. 18, 2014, superseding AB 2100 because it amended the same section of law, Civil Code Section 4735. SB 992 is identical to AB 2100 except for two features:

  1. Recycled Water - Makes an exception to the ban on fining or penalizing an owner who fails to water landscaping if the association has access to recycled water for landscaping irrigation.
  2. Pressure Washing – Adds a new section (Civil Code Section 4736) to the Davis-Stirling Act that voids provisions or rules of the HOA’s CC&Rs that require pressure washing exterior surfaces during a state or local drought emergency.

The new law defines pressure washing to be the use of a high-pressure sprayer or hose and potable water to remove loose paint, mold, grime, dust, mud, and dirt from surfaces and objects, including buildings, vehicles, and concrete surfaces.

SB 992 does not prohibit the use of high-pressure sprayers or hoses and potable water to clean things, it only prevents an association from enforcing CC&Rs or rules that would require someone to use these devices. For example, if the rules of an association require an owner to clean oil spills from a designated parking space using a pressure washer and if a state of emergency exists due to drought, those rules cannot be enforced, and another method of cleaning would be needed if the owner did not wish to use a pressure washer. 

Related Legislation

SB 992 was linked with a third drought bill, AB 2104, which contains the same language as the portion of SB 992 referring to recycled water but doesn’t go into effect until January 1, 2015. The governor also signed AB 2104, possibly as a courtesy to its author or maybe to underscore the seriousness of his concern about the drought.

The signatures happened on the same day, but AB 2104 was signed before SB 992, which allowed the terms of SB 992 to “chapter out” AB 2104. This was important because SB 992, again, was an urgency measure and went into immediate effect on September 18, 2014 and because it contains the extra pressure washing language that the governor wished to retain.