#City & Town Planning
Recent Berkeley homeowners
United States of America

The City of Berkeley provides guidelines for obtaining a seismic retrofit tax rebate when purchasing a home in the City. These guidelines - clearly outlined in papers from the City at the closing of escrow and available at http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/buildingandsafety/taxguide.htm - changed in February of 2007 (but apparently not on the website).

These changes were imposed EVEN THOUGH THE AFFECTED CONSTITUENCY (i.e. the homeowner) WAS NOT NOTIFIED. Review of these changes would easily indicate that ANY HOMEOWNER PLANNING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE REBATE would have drastically changed their plans had they known of the changes.

Whereas the guidelines used to allow one year for the retrofit work to be done with minimal restrictions for obtaining the rebate before the changes, the new guidelines make it VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE to obtain the full rebate as understood at the closing of a home in the period of note. These new guidelines were imposed WITHOUT PUBLIC NOTICE OR DEBATE, something relatively unheard of in Berkeley politics.

The old guidelines are part of your closing package from your title company (if you closed in the time period of question). The new guidelines are now only known to contractors affected by the changes and certain City employees. Several phone calls and e-mails to City representatives have made it clear that only a concerted grassroots effort will force the City to consider honoring their contract with Homeowners.

We only want the City to honor the contract it entered into before it changed the rules of that contract without notifying us. If you wish your contract with the City to be honored (i.e., you purchased your home between Feb. of 2006 and now), then please consider the following steps:

1. contact a seismic retrofit contractor to find out just what has changed from the “man in the street's” perspective;

2. let me know (woodsb62060@gmail.com) if you feel you are affected by this rules change (recall: all responses to inquiries indicate the City will not mitigate its actions unless a grassroots constituency is identified, so we need to band together if there is any hope of them honoring the contract);

3. contact your City representative (http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/elected/) to establish a complaint;

4. consider getting a deadline extension from the City (since our fight may put you beyond your original deadline);

5.sign this petition so your voice can be heard.

Please note: a signature with a Berkeley address will mean more to the City than just a signature, so please do include your address if you sign.

Thank you for your participation!

Bill Woods
New Berkeley Homeowner

We, the undersigned, feel the City of Berkeley has unfairly changed its guidelines for consideration of granting a seismic retrofit refund.

We feel it incumbent upon the City to "grandfather in" (i.e., enforce the guidelines in effect at the time of closing) all homeowners closing on their homes within the affected time period - approximately one year before enforcement of the new guidelines.

The Grandfather Berkeley Homeowners petition to Recent Berkeley homeowners was written by Bill Woods and is in the category City & Town Planning at GoPetition.