An Agoura Hills homeowner who replaced the grass on his property with artificial turf in order to conserve water says his homeowners’ association has demanded he remove the new turf and slapped him with more than $4,000 in fines since January.
Greg Greenstein said he began removing the grass from his front and back yards in November 2014 in response to severe drought conditions facing California.
As a result, Greenstein says he has used significantly less water.
“We’re saving at least 60 percent or more of our total water bill because we are no longer watering our lawn,” Greenstein said.
The Greenstein’s also received a rebate for replacing their lawn from the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, he said.
But Greenstein says the Morrison Ranch Estates Homeowners’ Association has demanded he remove the turf from his front yard and began imposing a $50 per day fine in January.
“We received a letter from the attorney stating that ‘you did not receive architectural approval, and had you asked for architectural approval we would not have approved it,’” Greenstein said.
Earlier this month, after Greenstein refused to remove the turf or pay the fines, he says the homeowners’ association filed a lawsuit to collect the fees, which to date exceed $4,000.
State lawmakers have been considering a bill that would prevent HOAs from fining homeowners who choose to install artificial turf, prompting Greenstein to write a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Gov. Brown prohibit this, prohibit associations from doing this, for people who want to do the right thing,” Greenstein said.
State water board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus, among other California officials, has urged those with lush lawns to consider replacing them with drought-tolerant landscaping or to allow their grass to go a bit brown this summer.
“We haven’t said, ‘Kill every lawn in California’; we’re saying, ‘Think about it,’” Marcus said in an interview last week. “At a time when fields are fallowed, thousands of people are out of work, communities are running out of water in rural areas, and people are bathing out of buckets … the lawn can get a little gold or brown without it being the end of the world.”
Jan Gerstel, the president of the HOA reached out to KTLA Thursday stating the association was not fining the Greenstein’s for having turf, but because they did not follow the rules.
Everyone needs to fill out an application and get approval before starting any projects, Gerstel said.
The association decided in 2008 that artificial turf would not be allowed in front yards and found there was not enough interest to change the rule when they recently looked into the issue, according to Gerstel.
Gerstel added that according to the associations research, installing artificial turf did not significantly reduce water usage.