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Punished for Conserving Water: Calif. Woman Fined for Drought-Friendly Lawn

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A San Ramon homeowner is up in arms over being punished for her efforts to conserve during California's severe drought. Cheryl Hurd reports. (Published Thursday, Aug 21, 2014)

    A San Ramon homeowner is up in arms over being punished for her efforts to conserve water during California's severe drought.

    Fran Paxson recently spent thousands of dollars transforming her front lawn by replacing what used to be dead grass with drought-tolerant landscaping. She now faces fines from the homeowners association, who said the changes to her property were not approved.

    Paxson said she presented her plan twice to the homeowners association and got denied.

    "The only real reason they could give me for denying the ground cover against lawn was that it would look better," Paxson said, who went ahead with plan anyway because she wanted to save water.

    Paxson was told she will be fined $50 a month by the homeowners association until she replaced part of her front yard with grass.

    "For all practical purposes I thought they should have applauded her," said Frank Mellon, a board director for East Bay Municipal Utilities District. "Yes, she should have followed the rules. But if she had done something really ugly, I think I could understand it a little bit. But I don't understand this."

    EBMUD is giving Paxson a rebate for taking out her lawn, but she said that's not the reason she made the move.

    "I feel it was the right thing to do, given the fact that we're in the drought," Paxson said.

    The homeowners association did not return requests to comment on the issue. Paxson said a board member told her the association will take another vote on the matter.