San Ramon homeowner fined for removing lawn during drought

Laura Anthony Image
ByLaura Anthony KGO logo
Friday, August 22, 2014
San Ramon woman fined by her homeowner's association for removing her lawn during the drought
A San Ramon woman is fined by her homeowner's association for removing her lawn during the drought.

SAN RAMON, Calif. (KGO) -- A San Ramon woman is being fined by her homeowners association for taking out her lawn even though that's what many Bay Area water agencies are asking people to do.

Fran Paxson thought she was just doing the right thing, given the severity of the drought, and the status of her water-starved front lawn.

"It's a variety of mint, low to the ground and it will fill in the whole thing," said Paxson.

She says she approached the Board of Directors of her homeowner's association with plans that included mint and spruce, but no lawn.

The board wanted at least 25 percent grass and Paxson appealed. In the meantime, she went ahead with her new landscaping. Now the HOA is fining her $50 a month.

"Not the rock area but everything else here was covered in lawn, which was very old and not in great shape anyhow," said Paxson.

A letter from the HOA stated "the front yard appearance would look better" with at least some turf.

At the same time, Paxson is battling with her HOA, the East Bay Municipal Utility District is applauding her efforts.

In a written statement, EBMUD's CEO John Coleman said:

"I find it amazing that we are in one of the worst droughts in our history, not knowing when it might end; and you have ridiculous out of date and touch HOA rules prohibiting removing a lawn and the installation of drought plants. As it should, state law is on the side of Ms. Paxson, and if I have my way, EBMUD rules will be changed to be on Ms. Paxson's side too."

ABC7 News visited the homes of four members of the Twin Creeks South Estate Board, but could not get any comment.

"I can understand why she's doing it, but at the same time, we have regulations," said resident Fred Albano.

Paxson believes the homeowners association needs to realize the reality of the drought.