2014 Legislation: AB 2561 – Voiding HOA Landscaping Rules

AB 2561 would void HOA governing document provisions, such as landscaping rules or bans on commercial activity, that prohibit any homeowner from planting a personal or commercial garden of edible crops in their front or back yard. ECHO opposes AB 2561.

What Does AB 2561 Say?

From the Legislative Counsel’s Digest:

This bill would make void any provision of the governing documents of a common interest development that prohibits the use of a homeowner’s front or back yard for personal agriculture or entrepreneurial agriculture or prohibits a homeowner from the off-site sale or donation of produce grown on the homeowner’s property.

How Will AB 2561 Impact Your HOA?

Commercial or personal gardens in HOAs.

A Front Yard Vegetable Garden

This bill would have two immediate consequences in your community:

  1. Void your landscaping rules. If your community has approved landscaping rules that preserve a unique aesthetic, those rules would be voided. Associations would be required to permit homeowners to grow “edible plants” in their front or back yards.
  2. Permit on-site agricultural businesses. The law specifically allows homeowners to grow edible plants for commercial use. While associations could place reasonable restrictions on the hours of operation, they would be compelled to allow business-related activities and visitors. Associations would be allowed to restrict on-site sales.

Why Does ECHO Oppose AB 2561?

ECHO Opposes AB 2561 for three reasons:

  1. HOA communities should be allowed to make aesthetic decisions together. HOAs are unique communities where homeowners share resources and space in common. We believe that overriding governing document provisions approved by the community circumvents the communal nature of association decision-making, and erodes the foundation upon which associations function effectively.
  2. Residential HOA communities should be allowed to prohibit commercial enterprises. Many communities work hard to preserve the residential feel of their properties. Forcing HOAs to permit on-site business activities will change family-friendly neighborhoods, increase commercial traffic, and could reduce property values.
  3. AB 2561 places unfair, dangerous burdens on associations and owners. This bill does not answer the following questions: who is responsible for increased water usage? Can owners plant trees that could damage property? Is the HOA responsible for mediating complaints about smells related to composting and/or fertilization? Who will be responsible for related pest problems? Can the association prohibit pesticide use? And many more…

In its current form, ECHO will continue to oppose AB 2561. Want to share your thoughts about this bill? Leave a comment on our Facebook post, tweet at us, or send us an email.

Image cropped from photo by Mikael Leppa, CC BY 2.0.