SACRAMENTO – AB 1, by Assemblymember Cheryl R. Brown (D-San Bernardino), was signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Monday. AB 1 prohibits municipalities from fining their residents for not watering their lawn when a drought emergency is declared by the Governor.
“I am very happy that Governor has signed my bill prohibiting municipalities from fining their residents for not watering their lawns while we are in the worst drought in California’s history,” Assemblymember Brown said.
In 2013, Governor Brown convened an interagency Drought Task Force to analyze California’s current water system and sustainability. As a result of the Drought Task Force’s findings, the Governor declared a State of Emergency and requested that Californians reduce their water usage by 20 percent.
Despite the Governor’s drought declaration and request to curb water consumption, some local municipalities have continued to enforce ordinances that require residents to maintain their green lawns and penalize those who choose to reduce or eliminate lawn watering or have brown lawns.
“It is sad that it took a law to protect homeowners who have tried diligently to conserve water. However, this is a needed step in order to ensure that California manages its water resources efficiently during the drought,” Assemblymember Brown concluded.
Here is a look at the Bill:
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST
AB 1, Brown. Drought: local governments: fines.
The California Constitution requires that the water resources of the state be put to beneficial use to the fullest extent of which they are capable and that the waste or unreasonable use or unreasonable method of use of water be prevented. Existing law, the California Emergency Services Act, sets forth the emergency powers of the Governor under its provisions and empowers the Governor to proclaim a state of emergency for certain conditions, including drought.
This bill would prohibit a city, county, or city and county from imposing a fine under any ordinance for a failure to water a lawn or having a brown lawn during a period for which the Governor has issued a proclamation of a state of emergency based on drought conditions.
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
The Legislature finds and declares both of the following:
(a) That this act is in furtherance of the policy contained in Section 2 of Article X of the California Constitution.
(b) The prohibition on imposing fines for failing to water a lawn or for having a brown lawn during a period for which the Governor has issued a proclamation of a state of emergency based on drought conditions is a matter of statewide concern and not a municipal affair, as that term is used in Section 5 of Article XI of the California Constitution. Therefore, Section 2 of this act shall apply to charter cities.
Section 8627.7 is added to the Government Code, to read:
(a) During a period for which the Governor has issued a proclamation of a state of emergency under this chapter based on drought conditions, a city, county, or city and county shall not impose a fine under any ordinance for a failure to water a lawn or for having a brown lawn.
(b) A violation of this section is not subject to the criminal penalties set forth in Section 8665.