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The push in Utah’s Legislature to stop governments and HOAs from mandating plush lawns

SALT LAKE CITY— Last summer, politicians begged Utahns to conserve water, but as the KSL Investigators found, that did not stop some homeowners associations or government entities from enforcing their rules for residents to keep lush lawns. Now, some lawmakers aim to change that.

Jason McHann of West Valley City learned last summer he was breaking the law by letting his lawn go.

“Pretty frustrated,” McHann said after getting slapped with a fix-it ticket from the city.  “We’re doing what we should be doing to be responsible citizens.”


The city demanded he water his lawn more or face a fine.

“We’d have to water 45 minutes a day to keep it nice and green,” McHann said.

Now, there is a push from two state legislators to make it against the law for officials to require lawns.

“Another way to say it is, those organizations would have to give the person at least one other option, besides just lawn,” said State Representative Ray Ward.

The Bountiful Republican said his bill, H.B. 95 is inspired by the fear of what would happen if the Great Salt Lake were to dry up.

“If we want to still have that lake there, we have got to do a better job of conserving,” he said.

Ward explained his bill would still allow cities to put in rules requiring the landscaping to be neat and attractive.

“The point that everybody brings up is ‘I don’t want that other person’s house to lower my property values because it looks like a dump,’” he said. “And that’s understandable. That neighborhood wouldn’t want the next-door house to look like a dump. It does affect them. But there’s a lot of other ways besides lawn to make your house look nice.”

The other bill is being run by Republican Rep. Robert Spendlove of Sandy. His bill, H.B. 121 would actually incentivize people who tear out their water-guzzling lawns to put in something better suited to Utah’s desert climate.

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