By Juliette Goodrich

BLACKHAWK (CBS SF) — Residents in an unincorporated, planned community in Contra Costa County are being told to forget statewide imposed drought restrictions and keep their lawns green, or face fines.

In the upscale Blackhawk community, brown lawns used to be a badge of honor. They showed that neighbors were doing their part to conserve water.

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There are patches of brown scattered between the manicured lawns, fountains and lion statues behind the gates at Blackhawk, the exclusive community of 2,400 homes outside Danville where curb appeal is both a right and an obligation.

Four years of drought have transformed this biosphere of wealth into something a little less than immaculate, with some homeowners actually letting their lawns turn brown in an effort to conserve precious water.

But enough is enough, declared the Blackhawk Homeowners Association, which issued a letter to the 9,000 residents of Blackhawk stating that as of June 1st, “beautiful landscaping ” will again be required.

The letter told residents that they must have a healthy lawn or drought-tolerant landscaping, or face fines, even litigation.

Many residents in the community weren’t watering their lawns in order to avoid water district fines.

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On Monday, landscapers were busy at work removing sod from a Blackhawk front yard.

Residents said its a huge untertaking to replace a lawn, especially in Blackhawk.

The letter also states that the community has a responsibility to maintain its reputation and believes there is no longer any reason that all landscaping in the community can’t flourish as it once did.

But lawmakers say homeowners associations shouldn’t punish people who are doing the right thing, conserving until the drought is declared over.

The state says it’s not over. Californians are all still being urged to conserve water and water restrictions remain in place.

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State water managers will meet later this month to decide whether to ease any of the state restrictions.

Juliette Goodrich