Pixel Tracker

Monday, February 18 , 2019, 12:46 pm | A Few Clouds 57º

 
 
 

Laurel Abbott: Santa Barbara’s Zoning Information Reports Unreliable for Buyers

In the early 1970s, the City of Santa Barbara started issuing a Buyer’s Information Report at the time of sale to determine if there were any violations or permit issues. This report cost $25 and was for informational purposes only.

Fast forward 40 years, and we now have a Zoning Information Report inspection costing almost $500 for a report that often has inaccuracies and acts as an enforcement tool of permit and building issues at the time of sale.

As Realtors, we want our buyers to be as informed about the property they are buying as is humanly possible. We order multiple reports, issue dozens of disclosures and try to provide the best information available.

For the past decade, the city ZIRs have become unreliable. In an increasingly common scenario, our buyers rely on the information provided by the city, then when they go to sell the property, a new report reveals flaws that were not discovered in the report they were provided when they purchased. To add insult to injury, the city then places “enforcement cases” on these homes often delaying or derailing the sale, and in some cases, altering property values.

Since June 2009, the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors has been working with the city staff exploring many different scenarios that could be a remedy to some of the issues. We proposed “grandfathering” items that have been on the property for decades or had been approved in earlier reports. We also brought forward the idea of privatization of the report process with professionals who have a greater stake in accuracy.

Unfortunately, although we have had great rapport with the city staff and we do appreciate the changes they did make, such as emailing out the reports and allowing for appeals to incorrect ZIRs, everyone acknowledges that ZIRs have become problematic. We are unable to “fix” the problem with the current process.

Th SBAOR is getting a date and will be going to the City Council to request that these reports become optional. With this change, if buyers want one of these reports, they can get one. If they want to hire a professional permit planner to review the file and provide a remedy for any issues, they can go that route.

We are living in a different time than the ‘70s. All the files for properties in the city are online for individuals to do their own homework.

We need to hear from the public about their experiences with ZIRs. Please send us any stories of your experience with these reports. We have mostly collected what we refer to as “ZIR nightmares” from an outraged public, but if you have a good story, we’d like to hear that, too.

Contact your Realtor or Krista Pleiser at the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Stay tuned for our City Council date so your voice can be heard.

Laurel Abbott is a real estate agent with Prudential California Realty and president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 805.879.8050. The opinions expressed are her own.

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.