I helped negotiate the sewer lateral inspection ordinance, and hope to negotiate many more of them. I certainly respect Mary Grace Pawson, and Cathy Hayes, however, the real estate interests have no case and are just trying to delay and throw up a study and weaken the ordinance. They have no reasonable excuses for attempting to obstruct this obviously needed ordinance.
The ordinance will not interfere with the supply or demand for housing in any measurable way. It will not interfere with the timing of a sale. Compare its impact to something like the $70,000 permit costs for new home construction for low cost housing mitigation, and you see that a requirement to perform a several hundred dollar inspection is not a significant economic issue that Realtors should be worried about. What about the mold inspection, the termite inspection, title search etc? Why should a seller be allowed to sell a defective structure without disclosure of its most likely defects? I guess the real estate industry just wants to shield their buyers eyes from future problems. I thought that they were supposed to represent buyers interests also? Hiding a repair that might cost 5 thousand dollars is not in the interests of a buyer. It might be nice if they also represented the public interest ahead of expedient profit.
Lateral inspection goes a long way to quickly correcting infiltration problems that are not being addressed in most communities. Infiltration is responsible for a great deal of the raw sewerage overflows that contaminate our land, surface water and drinking water wells. It also provides a preferential pathway to contaminate large areas. For example, a lateral connected to a drycleaner or leaking underground storage tank can follow such a preferential pathway to a drinking water well or stream or another sewer lateral.
Cathy’s concern that the lines are very deep is a red herring. There are technologies that slip line the lateral without excavation or damage to landscape. These do not require digging in the street. It is most cost efficient and creates a better repair to do the lateral from house to the sewer main.
Realtors don’t even recognize their own self-interest in this issue. Lower sewer rates are a selling point. An improvement to a home is a selling point. The value they add in helping the buyer and seller with this inspection issue provides greater justification for their commission. All they need to do is have an inspection scheduled and completed, just like the termite or septic pump inspection. This is an identical condition to that which is now already required for every home with a septic tank. The escrow can close in the same time period, with repairs accomplished with a bond that secures funds needed to accomplish those needed repairs.
The state is gong to require this in the near future in its NPDES permits in order to be in compliance with the intentions of the Clean Water Act, as they should. River Watch has had to prod local municipalities that universally want this ordinance because Realtors coerce and threaten the local political officials. If homes turn over at 3% per year, then 1/3 of the infiltration can be repaired in 10 years instead of never. Imagine the increased capacity and reduced sewer rates that this provides existing communities.
Bob Rawson (Bob Rawson is plant manager for the Graton Wastewater Sanitation Plant)