The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR), a professional trade organization representing over 4,500 REALTORS® and Affiliate members engaged in the real estate business on the Peninsula and in the South Bay, has come out in opposition to a Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) proposal that would mandate the replacement of all uncertified wood-burning devices with gas-fueled, electric or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified heating devices that meet or exceed NSPS Subpart AAA, upon the sale or transfer of residential or commercial property.

In a letter addressed to BAAQMD, SILVAR President Chris Isaacson stated, “We cannot over-emphasize the impact this rule would have on the Silicon Valley housing market. What little it does to reduce wintertime air pollution does not warrant the substantial difficulty it would cause for people who are trying to sell their homes.”

According to SILVAR, implementation of this rule would be complicated, costly, ineffective, overreaching and intrusive to residents. Installation of gas and electrical inserts or EPA certified heating devices would require construction or placement of gas or electric lines into a fireplace, triggering structural, slab foundation and other issues that would be costly. The cost of the units alone range from several hundred to thousands of dollars.

Isaacson said the government should implement regulations that fix problems while negatively impacting the fewest number of residents. The fireplace amendment does the exact opposite and does not correct the problem of air pollution. This rule would force people to remove fireplaces with literally no evidence that the people buying the home would violate “Spare the Air” restrictions, or ever burn wood.

SILVAR contends the rule is an ineffective, senseless solution to solving the problem of air pollution, since it would only affect about 40 percent of homes in 40 years. “This Rule punishes everyone for the bad acts of a few. If implemented, this Rule will hamstring the real estate market, cost home sellers potentially thousands of dollars, and by 2050 will only impact less than half of the fireplaces in the region. This Rule is a broad brush that does not even attempt to target the actual bad actors,” said Isaacson.

SILVAR strongly recommends taking a different, more sensible approach to improving air quality. The Association recommends increasing Spare the Air days and stepping up its enforcement, and providing incentives to homeowners who install the suggested gas-fueled, electric or EPA-certified heating devices.

“Figure out the areas where people are burning excessively and target those areas with either mandatory or voluntary burn bans. If changing out the fireplace is still a goal, then incentivize homeowners to remove or retrofit. This harsh and excessive regulation is not the right way,” said Isaacson.

View SILVAR President Chris Isaacson’s letter to BAAQMD here.