On January 1, 2015, AB 2561 added Section 1940.10 and 4750 to the Civil Code. What’s important to know is that Section 4750 grants homeowners in HOAs the right to utilize their backyards for “personal agriculture.” More importantly, this right supersedes any provisions in a HOA’s governing documents that restrict or prohibit such use.
But, don’t worry. As an HOA, you still have some authority to restrict and regulate personal food gardens.
Let’s take a look:
1) Personal Use/Donation Only – The yield must be for personal consumption or donation. Anything being grown for commercial purposes can be lawfully prohibited.
2) The same goes for Marijuana or other unlawful substances – These do not fall within the definition of “plant crop” and as such can be prohibited entirely.
3) The crops can only be grown on the owners property and may be prohibited in common areas.
4) You may impose “reasonable restrictions” on the use/maintenance of homeowner’s yard for personal agriculture. as long as they “do not significantly increase the cost of engaging in personal agriculture or significantly decrease its efficiency.”
5) Section 4750 does allow you to require that “dead plant material and weeds, with the exception of straw, mulch, compost and other organic materials that encourage vegetation and soil moisture retention, be regularly cleared from the backyard”.
Homeowners now have more rights when it comes to personal agriculture but, as an HOA, you still have the ability to ensure that it’s done responsibly, without degrading property values.