Faced with mounting opposition from local Realtors to the enforcement of a nearly two-decade-old law requiring homeowners to replace wood-shingle roofs with material that is less fire-prone, the City Council this week agreed to discuss a possible deadline extension.
At the Council meeting on Tuesday, Realtors argued that forcing homeowners to undertake the costly expense of replacing a roof was an undue burden during the ongoing recession, and could also impact home sales when the industry is already depressed.
Extending the 2012 deadline is just one of several options that will be discussed among a coalition of stakeholders that the council tasked with reviewing the matter.
Alexandra Kelly, president of the Burbank Assn. of Realtors, asked what the proposed enforcement mechanisms were, and what the accommodations are for those who cannot afford to install a new roof.
How the ordinance would be enforced on short sales and foreclosures was also unclear, Kelly said.
“We understand the potential safety hazard for all shake roofs; it is not our intent to compromise public safety,” she said. “That being said, we do feel the scope of the properties affected by this ordinance is much broader than once thought and needs to be evaluated.”
Fire officials estimate there are 120 homes with wood roofs. At least 16 homes have wood shake or wood shingle roofs that have been covered over, but fire officials conceded that number could be much higher because they lack the resources to check all remaining roofs.
In 1992, the city adopted an ordinance requiring homeowners in the mountain region or hillside areas to replace their wood shake roofs by 2005. The ordinance prohibits the use of wood shingles for roof coverings and exterior wall coverings, fire officials said. For the rest of the city, the deadline is August 2012.
The City Council agreed to study the issue further, citing the impact of the recession on households.
“The issue is the current economic situation,” Councilman David Gordon said.
Among the issues Realtors said needed more review was how the ordinance would affect a homeowner’s insurance if the roof wasn’t replaced; who pays to replace the roof during a home sale; and what consequences exist for those who do not meet the deadline.
B.C. Cameron, who lives in the rancho area of Burbank, said she is retired and works part time. She said she had no problem replacing her shake roof.
“But I do have a problem paying for a new roof when I don’t need it and can’t afford and don’t want to do it,” she said.
She asked the council to reconsider the financial burden for those who don’t need a new roof and can’t afford one.
Cameron said that when the ordinance was adopted in 1992, the City Council thought a 20-year concession would be long enough for all roofs to be replaced.
“Unfortunately, they were incorrect. Some roofs are still viable,” she said.
At the meeting Tuesday, Kelly suggested officials consider a 10-year extension.
But Mayor Jess Talamantes, a former Burbank firefighter, cautioned against overlooking the safety aspect — for residents and firefighters.
In agreeing to bring the issue back for additional discussion, the City Council asked the Fire Department, city officials and Realtors to hammer out possible solutions.