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South San Francisco drops home inspection proposal
January 18, 2013, 05:00 AM Daily Journal Staff Report

South San Francisco decided to table a proposal to require the inspection of homes prior to them being placed on the market to curb safety concerns.

On Wednesday, the South San Francisco City Council held a special study session to discuss the proposal to create a residential point of sale safety inspection program. Under the proposal, a property owner would be required to have an inspection for possible code violations prior to selling the home. The move, Fire Chief Phil White wrote in a staff report, would help curb ongoing building violations which cause safety concerns. Realtors, on the other hand, questioned the legality and effectiveness of the proposal.

The meetings were going nowhere, said Mayor Pro Tem Karyl Matsumoto, before the council agreed to stop further conversations.

A recent review of completed home safety inspections showed the Fire Department completed 454 inspections in a 14-month period. During those inspections, 15 percent, or 68 homes, had a safety violation. Unpermitted construction — such as illegal bedrooms and/or garage conversions — was the most common violation followed by improperly installed water heaters and window bar violations. About 5 percent of the homes received a citation which, in total, created less than $5,000 in fines, White wrote.

The San Mateo County Association of Realtors, on the other hand, described the proposal as creating warrantless inspections that can result in tens of thousands of dollars in fines for homeowners. Steve Blanton, executive officer of the San Mateo County Association of Realtors, was pleased with the council's decision to drop the idea.

"By their action, the City Council reaffirmed to South San Francisco residents that home ownership matters,” Blanton said in a prepared statement. "We are extremely grateful to the South San Francisco City Council for listening to their constituents and the business community.”

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