Large Showing by Local Realtors Moves Council to Action

Pasadena-Foothills Association of Realtors representatives finally get criticized Residential Occupancy Inspection program on Council Agenda, with help from Councilmember Hampton

Published : Tuesday, March 27, 2018 | 5:17 AM

Large Showing by Local Realtors Moves Council to Action

While it’s often been said that “You can’t fight City Hall,” you can, apparently, nudge it into action.

About 75 members of the Pasadena-Foothills Association of Realtors (PFAR) packed the City Council chambers Monday in hopes of getting the City Council to finally agendize a discussion on potential changes to the City’s voluntary Residential Occupancy Inspection program.

The program, which was originally designed to help realtors, homeowners, and buyers with the transfer of home ownership was first publicly criticized in a 2015 report by the California State Auditor for a number of defects and inconsistencies in the way the program has been managed by the City.

While the City of Pasadena conceded to most of the recommendations in the report, then-Interim City Manager Steve Mermell defended the Pasadena program, agreeing to follow some, but not all, of the state’s recommendations. The state responded by sticking with all of its recommendations.

State Auditor Elaine Howle wrote that Pasadena is one of three California cities whose program is rife with flaws.

“The problem is much worse than the city thinks it is,” said Todd Hays, local realtor and former president of the Pasadena-Foothills Association of Realtors, told Pasadena Now in 2016.

“The current program does not promote Pasadena as a real estate-friendly city,” he said, claiming that the current system is actually causing some deals to cancel or fall apart, costing realtors, homeowners and buyers thousands of dollars and in some cases, weeks and months of their time.”

The Residential Occupancy Inspection Program involves the city-mandated inspection of homes as they are being sold in order to ensure up-to-date compliance with city building codes. The process results in the issuance of a Certificate of Inspection, without which the sale cannot be completed.

As Podley Company realtor Adam Bray-Ali explained the “city occupancy inspection … costs roughly $180. Typically the homeowner pays for it, but it’s negotiable, and it’s required in Pasadena.”

According to Bray-Ali, the City also looks at sidewalks and health and safety issues.

“Whatever they say needs to be repaired, you need to pay for it and repair it,” Bray-Ali added.

According to Bray-Ali, PFAR wants the program eliminated. Mayor Terry Tornek is against that idea.

“My position is that I support the ordinance,” Tornek said. “I may be the last man standing, but I think it’s a critical ordinance. It may need to be modified, and the administration of it has not been the best, that’s a legitimate gripe, but in terms of wiping it off the books, I am very much opposed to that.”

Laura Olhasso, Government Affairs Director for the Pasadena-Foothills Association of Realtors (PFAR), told the Council that the item was promised on the agenda several times in the last six months, but each time was bumped for “more pressing’ items.

‘Enough is enough,” said Olhasso.

Mermell responded, admitting that he had tried to agendize the item, but the item kept being “deferred”.

“We had a number of pressing discussions,” said Mermell. “There was accessory dwelling units, there was short term rentals, there was marijuana, there were a lot of things, but we know that this discussion is important.”

Mermell also told the group that no current staff report on the issue has been prepared by the City, at which time Olhasso insisted on making a date on the Council calendar for the item.

“No later than May 17,” she said.

Councilmember Tyron Hampton, attending the meeting by phone, then chimed in to help move the process along.

“I’m very aware of this item, and it needs to be discussed,” he said. “Let’s get it on the calendar now,” he told the meeting.

After some juggling of dates, Mermell agreed to place the item on the Council agenda for May 7.

And then about six dozen real estate agents left the meeting, and the Council chambers nearly empty.

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