May 24, 2017 | Local News

Did you know, an inspection of a property’s sewer lateral could soon be required at the point of sale?

Due to a settlement agreement with California River Watch related to alleged Clean Water Act violations, SLO City staff has recommended inspections of sewer laterals at various “trigger events” in addition to a voluntary replacement program. During heavy rains, sewage spills occurred as a result of excess surface water entering the city sewer main. The City is seeking to eliminate overflows, reduce the volume that must be treated and free up pipe capacity for future development. What does this mean for you? Starting January 1, 2018, you may be required to have a video inspection of your sewer lateral when you apply for a building permit or sell your property. If you thought the responsibility of your sewer lateral ends at the edge of your property, you would be wrong. Homeowners are responsible for their lateral up to the point it connects with the City’s sewer main, typically under the street. The average cost for a video inspection is $250 and the average cost for full replacement, including permit fees, is about $8,000.

City staff met with local representatives of the real estate community, who voiced concern about completing the required inspection, repair and /or replacement within the tight timeframe of a real estate transaction. Luckily, at the May 16, 2017 City Council meeting, Council voted 5-0 to continue community outreach and obtain more stakeholder feedback. Council appeared to be on board with the idea that any requirement to repair a lateral prior to the close of escrow would be detrimental to the sales process. It is expected Council will limit the ordinance to only require an inspection of the sewer lateral and disclosure of the condition as part of a transaction. Staff is also recommending a rebate program, wherein applicants required to replace their sewer lateral or those who want to do so voluntarily can apply for a rebate of up to $1,000. The City hopes these programs will make incremental progress toward reducing the amount of flow through the City’s sewer main.

 

What’s Next?

City Council directed staff to continue public outreach and come back at a future date. You can read the full staff report here and provide Council with your thoughts about the proposed ordinance by e-mail at emailcouncil@slocity.org. Have questions about how this affects you as a home seller or buyer? Call California Coastal Real Estate at 805.459.1865 and let’s talk.

 

Triggers for sewer lateral inspections (per the currently drafted ordinance):

1. Except as set forth in Section 13.08.395.C.2, after January 1, 2018, all private sewer laterals connected to the city’s sewer system shall be inspected per Section 13.08.395.F at the property owner’s sole expense, when any of the following events occur:

  1. Whenever a private sewer lateral has overflowed twice within a two-year timeframe.
  2. Upon submittal of a building permit for the addition of an additional bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen in a residential structure or the addition of non-residential space or an additional plumbing fixture unit in non-residential structures.
  3. A change of the use of the structure from: (1) residential to nonresidential use; (2) to a nonresidential use that will result in a higher flow than the previous nonresidential use; or (3) to a nonresidential use where the structure served has been vacant or unoccupied for more than three (3) years.
  4. Change in size of the water meter serving the property.
  5. Whenever property located in the city and containing one or more structures which are served by a private sewer lateral or laterals is subdivided. The inspection shall occur prior to recordation of the final map.
  6. Within thirty (30) days of notification by the city that “smoke testing” or closed-circuit television (CCTV) sewer main inspection indicates the presence of I/I from private property.
  7. Upon any change in ownership of real property within the city, which shall be implemented as follows:

 

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