Meeting to Discuss Problems with SSF Sewer Lateral Ordinance

By · December 19, 2012
Yesterday,  some  members of SAMCAR (San Mateo County Association of Realtors) met with Public Works Director Terry White, and Inspector Barry Mammini to discuss the problems with having a City Inspector come out to the property to do these inspections.  Annie Oliva, current President of SAMCAR, told of the inconvenience of having to schedule a meeting with an inspector and the plumber only to find out at the last minute that it was canceled.  But the biggest issue was the fact that South San Francisco is the only city on the Peninsula that requires a City Inspector to be present. Annie wanted them to know that it was placing a burden on the agents to allow City officials onto and sometimes into the property to complete these inspections.  She asked why it was necessary to have an inspector at the property if there was a qualified plumber to run the tests as other cities have done.  She also stressed that it is understood that there is an ordinance for these inspections, unlike the Smoke Detector and Health and Safety Inspections that have bee "required" by the SSF Fire Department for so many years.  It was also stated that we were told it was a law for many years and it has caused many problems for agents and especially for sellers. The issue with this new Sewer Lateral Ordinance was not the fact that the sellers had to comply, as agents understand and relay this information to their sellers, just the problems  of having the City there.  It was stated that we don't need the City telling us how to do our job, that the City wants too much control and that this is more like Big Brother watching over the sales process. I brought up the situation on one of my listings that is probably very famous by now where the inspector came out and discovered something he thought to be illegal - and part of it was and could easily be rectified while doing the sewer lateral work.  But by just asking a question of the Building Department, turned it into a huge financial burden on the seller.  It ended up costing the seller over $8,000 to update a structure that was built with a permit back in the 50's but the owner didn't have the permit.  The City found it later just before the seller would have had to get a demolition permit to tear down the structure at a cost of over $18,000.  Barry said he had no idea his one phone  to the Building Department would have triggered this whole fiasco with the SSF Fire Department. This is why we don't want City officials on the property.  The City does not keep good permit records so how can they say it was not done with permits!! One of the agents said he knows quite a few people who want to sell but won't due to the problems with the City. Terry White seemed genuinely interested in working with us.  It was also stated that by being at the property, the inspector could ask the plumber to move the video back and forth, stop at certain places, or water may need to be flushed so the video was clearer.  However it was also stated that he could view it better on his office.  So, it seems to me that he may not even need to be there at all.  He said in the past, bogus videos were given to the city to show they did not need repair.  However, I thought that was odd because why would a plumber send in a video where no work was needed.  Seems the plumber would want to make money, not pass up an opportunity to turn down work.  Maybe I 'm missing something. A few suggestions were brought up as to how to accommodate both sides.  Terry White said he did not make the final decision but thought the ideas may just work.  Maybe we could try it for six months and see if the solutions satisfy both sides. Some of the ideas that came up were: 1. Plumber had to use a color video 2. The address had to be on the video - possibly throughout the video 3. City could put out a list of accepted plumbers. When the meeting was over, I felt very good about what had transpired and felt hopeful that we will be able to work together to satisfy both sides. Any thoughts on this?  
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