By Jan Bergemann

Published November 4, 2016

When the Florida legislature passed in 2009 the laws commonly known as the Florida Friendly Landscaping Acts, everybody thought that these are reasonable laws that would definitely help saving important water resources and protect our water resources from pesticides. Both FS 720.3075 (4)(a) and FS 373.185 promised to be good solid laws as written.

But, as usual in Florida, the enforcement of these laws is lacking – and laws without enforcement are useless, as Florida’s homeowners found out in recent years.

When passing these laws, the legislature appointed the University of Florida as the “watchdog” over these laws, having the university making the rules of what is supposed to be Florida Friendly Landscaping. Sounds good, as long as you don’t require the folks in charge of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) to testify in court as to what kind of turf is actually “Florida-Friendly” grass.

Most homeowners’ associations here in Florida actually require homeowners to use St. Augustine grass for their landscaping – and this kind of turf is definitely one of the grasses that needs a lot of care, plenty of water, chemical fertilizers and pesticides – exactly the kind of landscaping the Florida legislature tried to avoid in Florida’s gardens when creating these laws. But the UF employees are plainly refusing to testify in courts to the fact that St. Augustine grass is definitely anything but “Florida-Friendly” -- it's actually considered a "water-guzzler."

Homeowners and their attorneys, defending lawsuits about Florida-Friendly landscaping against their homeowners’ associations, found out real quick that the UF is definitely not the place to find experts willing to testify in court about “Florida-Friendly” turf. Owners had to settle lawsuits, because the watchdog was unwilling to watch – meaning the University of Florida experts were unwilling to testify what kind of turf should be considered Florida-Friendly.

You may wonder why, considering that the legislature named the UF as the watchdog over their laws?

“Rumor” has it that Florida Turfgrass Association is a huge contributor to the funds of UF. The number of $10 million has been tossed around in connection with these contributions.

In my opinion enough reason for the University to fail in their task as the watchdog of “Florida-Friendly” Landscaping. With other words: Money again won over the facts – as it is usual here in Florida.

I always wonder why the legislature creates such laws – and then making them useless through the lack of enforcement.

With other words: These are more laws citizens should rely on for protection. Without the watchdog willing to do its job these laws are just a waste of paper!

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Jan Bergemann Jan Bergemann is president of Cyber Citizens For Justice, Florida 's largest state-wide property owners' advocacy group. CCFJ works on legislation to help owners living in community  

associations. He moved to Florida in 1995 - hoping to retire. He moved into a HOA, where the developer cheated the homeowners and used the association dues for his own purposes. End of retirement!


CCFJ was born in the year 2000, when some owners met in Tallahassee - finding out that power is only in numbers. Bergemann was a member of Governor Jeb Bush's HOA Task force in 2003/2004.


The organization has two websites to inform interested Florida homeowners and condo owners:

News Website: http://www.ccfj.net/.

Educational Website: http://www.ccfjfoundation.net/.

We think that only owners can really represent owners, since all service providers surely have a different interest! We are trying to create owner-friendly laws, but the best laws are useless without enforcement. And enforcement is totally lacking in Florida !

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