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There is a subject we would like to raise that is causing a lot of concern in the canyons. It was raised briefly at the canyon meeting attended by Todd Spitzer and Colby Cataldi earlier this year and some discussion ensued but the basic issue remains a problem for many.
There are many older houses in the canyons, bought in good faith over the last 50 years, and yet not compliant with present codes. If that was the extent of the issue then it would be clear that homeowners need to comply with new codes on any new work/add-ons that they may consider, just like an owner in any other part of the county,
However, there are modifications and additions which do not appear on County records. There are many in the canyons who believe that some buildings were permitted and recorded but the records were lost over the years or lost in the fire of which many are aware. There are also buildings that canyon “lore” would attest to existing in one form or another for 70 plus years but are not in the records either at all or in their present form.
This is the cause of much concern, and threatens the equity for which many have committed their life savings, buying homes at full market value many, many years ago but without knowledge of any violation issues, and also the equity of people who have lived here all their lives in very old homes. It hardly seems fair that someone who bought a house at full market value in its present form 30/40/50 years ago, is to be held responsible for errors and omissions of the previous owners.
When Colby Cataldi addressed the above-mentioned meeting he said that the county’s main concern whenever this situation arises is one of safety. (Colby did say that buildings before 1950 were likely to be dealt with very leniently.)
Safety is always important of course, but imposition of modern codes such as “arc fault” electrical systems, 2013 “Green” codes and roof foiling, increased foundation depths, while all understandable for new projects, seem very “over the top” on buildings that are over 40 to 50 years old. We know that buyers should do their due diligence when they buy a home, but 20/30/40 years ago there was less easy access to information (no internet.no email) and less focus on canyon buildings, to the extent that the county did not get much involved.
Most of Orange County is not as old or as rural as the canyons; many people in the County still don’t know they exist. The canyons are a treasure and unique in their seclusion and ambience, and reflect the character of “Old Orange County”.
We believe there should be some clarification on specifically how canyon homes are to be treated when it comes to older buildings and homes that have had modifications made a long time ago but do not appear on county records. Again we understand that the County should have up to date records of buildings as they are, and have a responsibility to oversee safety, but this needs to be done in such a way that it does not impose such obligations on long-time canyon residents that they suffer immense stress and are expected to spend amounts of money that they simply do not have. This needs to be done with a friendly “arm round the shoulder” looking for mutually acceptable policies, not a blow on the head from a Code Book written 50 plus years after a building was worked on.
Would it be possible to have a meeting to explore just this issue?
Signatures of the ICL Board