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California Assembly acts to prohibit fines for brown lawns in droughts

California Assembly acts to prohibit fines for brown lawns during droughts

Alarmed that some cities have fined residents for allowing their lawns to turn brown during the drought, the state Assembly passed a bill Thursday that would prohibit penalties for failing to water grass.

Assemblywoman Cheryl R. Brown (D-Rialto) said she has received reports of fines or threatened fines in cities including Glendale, Upland and San Bernardino, even though Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency because of California's series of dry years.

“If California is going to manage its water resources efficiently and sustainably, then we cannot allow municipalities to penalize individuals for conserving water by not regularly watering their lawn,” Assemblywoman Brown said.

The measure, AB 1, passed 74 to 0 and now goes to the state Senate for consideration.

The proposal would bar cities and counties from imposing fines for failure to water lawns during times when the governor has declared a state of emergency based on drought conditions.

Fines for violating maintenance ordinances can range from $100 a week to a flat fee of $500.

Gov. Brown recently issued an order requiring urban consumers statewide to cut their water use 25% by the end of February 2016.

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