Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Update: Legislation to Allow Drought-Resistant Yards in HOAs Moves Forward

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Legislation moving forward in Texas would allow people living in HOAs to switch to drought-resistant, water-conserving landscaping.

Update: On March 18, the bill passed in the Senate. It now heads to the House. 

Original Story, March 5, 2013: Texas is in a third year of drought, with 89 percent of the state in some level of drought conditions according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor Map. In Texas, landscaping can make up about 30 percent of residential water use, and that goes up during dry times like these. While many Texans are cutting back on their water use by switching to drought-friendly landscaping, some may find an obstacle in their way: Homeowners Associations (HOAs). A new bill in the state legislature would change that. 

Senate Bill 198 by State Senator Kirk Watson, D-Austin, would allow homeowners in a HOA to switch to a more climate-appropriate lawn.

“It’s about personal property rights,” Watson testified this morning as he presented his bill to the State Senate Natural Resources Committee. “It’s about allowing Texans to protect themselves from drought and manage their water bills.”

The bill would amend the state property code to allow Texans living under HOAs to install drought resistant landscaping or water conserving turf. “It simply ensures that a landowner has a right to choose their plants, their grass, and to do so with water efficiency and their pocketbooks in mind,” Watson said.

But it would still allow HOAs to require that homeowners submit their plans for approval.

On the record in favor of the bill? Real estate and builders associations, environmental groups, and even Home Depot. No one testified against the bill, which got the attention of Natural Resources Chair State Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay.

“Where are the against-ers? Everybody’s for it,” Fraser said with a laugh.

“You say that with such surprise,” replied Watson in equally good humor. To which Fraser replied, “We like a little controversy here.”

The bill passed the committee unanimously this morning, and now it heads to the Senate.


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