EL DORADO COUNTY, SEPT. 30 – The Board of Supervisors of El Dorado County have approved a new code enforcement amnesty program in order to remove penalties or fees for property owners who are unaware of any unpermitted work done on their property. The staff will have approximately a year to provide an update on the implementation of the program to the Board of Supervisors. This program aims to prevent penalties for individuals who were not aware of any unpermitted work that occurred on their property. It acts as a courtesy to those who may be affected by such work.
Under this program, county staff will conduct pre-site inspections to assess the condition of the property in question. If the site is found to be free from any health or safety concerns, the code enforcement staff will issue a “certificate of compliance.” This certificate will allow the unpermitted work to remain on the property, and potential sellers will still be able to engage in real estate transactions. These code cases will be considered a “low priority” for code enforcement staff, meaning no enforcement action will be taken, despite the cases remaining open. The pre-site inspections will require a fee of $107.
Chris Perry, the assistant director of the Planning and Building Department, explained to the board that many local code cases involve property owners who were unaware of any unrecorded work when they purchased their property. Perry stated, “The only way we can prevent this issue from occurring in the future is if future buyers are informed about any issues with the property.” As part of the amnesty program, county staff will work with potential buyers and sellers during real estate transactions to negotiate outcomes that will not hinder the sale of a property, even if there are existing issues with the property that may affect ownership.
Perry emphasized that the county has no intention of delaying or obstructing any real estate transactions. However, they also need to ensure that the county is protected and informed about any code cases. The goal is to facilitate real estate transactions while addressing any concerns related to unpermitted work.
Planning and Building Director Karen Garner will have discretionary power to make decisions regarding the amnesty program. During the board meeting, Kim Beale stated that county Realtors would receive training on how to implement the program. She also mentioned that sellers would benefit from looking into the county’s TRAKiT system to determine if permits have been issued for the property in question. Beale emphasized the importance of sellers being aware of this before entering escrow. She also highlighted that agents working with property owners should be proactive in identifying potential issues, allowing sufficient time for resolution. TRAKiT is the county’s software tool that automates project development management, including permitting and code compliance.
Perry clarified that those who purchase property with unpermitted projects would not be penalized as long as an agreement is made to address the issue promptly and maintain open communication about the progress of resolving unpermitted work. As part of the amnesty program, property owners would not be required by Code Enforcement or Building Services staff to expose their walls for inspection.
However, all construction must comply with non-structural code requirements, such as electricity, plumbing, and fire sprinkler systems. Perry explained that if there are no obvious concerns about the structure during inspection, a certificate of compliance will be issued if the code case cannot be resolved immediately due to financial constraints. The amnesty program also mandates that the structural aspects of the property meet building code requirements in place at the time of construction. As previously discussed, the amnesty program requires Planning and Building staff to share information with the county’s Assessor’s Office, enabling the capture of up to four years of missed assessments on unpermitted structures.
The board unanimously voted to implement the amnesty program and its provisions.