Lawmakers, neighborhood associations at odds over drought exceptions

Gov. Brown's order has some worried

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - They say the grass is always greener on the other side, but a recent order issued by Governor Jerry Brown to combat the drought has some neighbors worried about the effect it will have on their communities.

"I don't want to look across the street and see someone's yard dead," said Todd Lamas. "We like to keep our neighborhood nice."

During the last days of April, Brown issued an order stating that Home Owner Associations (HOAs) could not fine residents for not keeping their yards green and fresh. And a proposed state law would make the change permanent during times of drought.

"I'm not surprised," said Kelly Management CEO Patrick Kelly. "I think with the crisis of the drought... it doesn't surprise me that this has come about."

Kelly Management oversees around 40 communities in the Bakersfield area, but Kelly said he is worried about what will happen if yards aren't kept to standards.

"There could be a condition of communities [where they] become somewhat blighted and values would be diminished," Kelly said. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, Americans use nearly 9 billion gallons of water for landscaping and irrigation every day. Much of that is used to keep the grass green.  

Lamas does suggest an option for keeping up the yard, that he says could help conserve water.

"I just cut back my water use and make sure all my sprinkler heads are working right and they're spraying on the grass, not the sidewalk," Lamas said. "I think if you just cut back your water a little bit you'll be okay." 

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