Answer: The code section that your neighbor is likely referring to is Civil Code section 1353.8, which states: "(a) Notwithstanding any other law, a provision of any of the governing documents of a common interest development shall be void and unenforceable if it does any of the following: (1) Prohibits, or includes conditions that have the effect of prohibiting the use of low water-using plants as a group.
Unfortunately, those code sections do not require your board to have such plants or landscaping. The choice is left to the board. That section only prohibits the governing documents from having clauses banning certain plants or landscaping.
Given the position of your board, try checking to see just how the "lush vegetation" has actually contributed to your property values. A seasoned real estate agent should be able to assist in compiling a sample of the sales in your development over the last several years. If the values have gone down, as likely they have in the current market, paying the ever-increasing price of water for inefficient landscaping that does not help units hold their value is a waste of association assets.
Ask the board to make available to all titleholders invoices showing how much money is spent on landscaping and landscaping-related items and water usage each month. Owners can also form a group and pressure the board to plant a more drought-tolerant or water-efficient landscape. Whether your board gets the message about cutting costs and reducing water waste will be up to the homeowners.
Glassman is an attorney specializing in corporate and business law. Vanitzian is an arbitrator and a mediator in the Los Angeles city attorney's Dispute Resolution Program. Send questions to P.O. Box 10490, Marina del Rey, CA 90295 or email email@example.com.