Wood Burning Fireplaces to Disappear in Southern California

By
Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Associates CA BRE# 01048160

 

IStock_000002542354XSmall Wood Burning FireplaceStarting March 9th, 2009 In the Southern California Air Quality Management District (AQMD) consisting of San Bernadino, Riverside, Orange and parts of Los Angeles Counties, builders may no longer build wood burning fireplaces.  The Southcoast Air Quality Management District passed rule 445 which regulates permanent indoor and outdoor burning devices. If you live in this district, you may also not even add a hearth wood burning fireplace in any of your remodel plans.

Environmental concerns about smoke with particulates that are small enough to lodge in the lungs , supposedly are a serious health risk according to studies. Now, I haven’t seem these studies but there are those  that are concerned with individual and household carbon footprints and want to see all wood burning fireplaces banned throughout the state.

People through the ages have had a passion with the wood burning fireplace and in recent years wood burning fireplaces built by new home builders has all but disappeared, being replaced by the gas fireplace with the fake logs and gas starters. Without some sort of heatilator that pushes the heat out, most of the heat just escapes up through the the flu.

For those that already have wood burning fireplaces, they will soon have their use of those fireplaces curtailed or may soon see an outright  ban from using them. It seems that any fire from burning wood does not qualify in the country’s quest to “Go Green”. While I am mostly in favor of living green and using safe green products where they can be obtained at or near the cost of their rival products, I think there are way bigger issues that would certainly make more of a difference in life than the occasional use of the fireplace on cold evenings. 

When I was growing up we had 3 huge wood burning fireplaces and on really cold days back east, it was not unusual for all three of them to stoked up with logs ( chopped by Dad ) and crackling away. I will admit a bit of bias in having enjoyed the feel of warmth created when burning hardwoods as well as the amazing sounds and the smell. I can remember many nights when family gathered around the fireplace. it felt safe and secure and left no doubt in my mind where  belonged.  I must be getting old by reminiscing about the past but it does have some wonderful memories. And for those of us that experienced the wonderful blazing wood burning fireplace could never nor would want to filtered out those fond memories. I am supposing here that the new younger generations will never experience what that was all about.

I have to wonder when the other states (other than California )  will start imposing the limits on living our lives without the intrusion of these huge environmental influence peddlers that seem to have way more influence than the lay citizens and most certainly have the ear of our state elected servants. I use that term loosely here always wanting to be sure to give the benefit of the doubt.  

Am I to believe that breathing the warmed air in the same room as a wood burning fireplace is more dangerous than the air we breath from a bazillion cars on the roads or any number of other sources. I’ll take the WBF any day! 

 

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Rainmaker
909,945
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

Wow that one sounds pretty crazy to me. I much prefer a wood burning fireplace.

Feb 16, 2009 06:04 PM #20
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William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - San Diego, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE

Hi Teri, Yes they are. If there is even a glimmer of a bright spot in this, since wild fires must be included in that wood burning rule, I guess if they are banned , we won't have any more of.

Feb 17, 2009 09:22 AM #21
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William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - San Diego, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE

Hi Bill, Makes you wonder what other things these folks think about, doesn't it? I would think with all the issues that face society, this issues would be way down on the list.

Feb 17, 2009 09:23 AM #22
Rainmaker
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Gena Riede
Riede Real Estate, Lic. 01310792 - Sacramento, CA
Real Estate Broker - Sacramento CA Real Estate (916) 417-2699

William, we already have a ban. On the weather report it tells those that have wood-burning fireplaces whether or not it's a burn or NO BURN day. Some who have their only source of heat from wood-burring stoves are exempt. It has had quite an impact on those who sell firewood.

Feb 18, 2009 12:23 AM #23
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William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - San Diego, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE

Hi Gena, Than you so much for sharing this as it adds some credible testimony and substance to this story. Most appreciated Gena,.

Feb 18, 2009 01:45 AM #24
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Nestor & Katerina Gasset
International Properties and Investments LLC - Wellington, FL
Realtors, Wellington Florida Homes For Sale

William- More regulations, more control, more telling us what we can and can not do. Heaven forbid this ever happen in areas where it gets cold like in Utah. When I lived in Utah we had coal and wood burning stoves in the winters, many poor people depending on wood heat in the winters.

I am glad that bill did not pass in your state that big brother was going to regulate your thermostat too!

I am with Lenn. I am reading a very interesting history 1st account of a Jewish Resistance fighter who escaped the ghetto; they had a ton of regulations there too.

Lenn, instead of 10 people, they allotted 50 people to one house! Each Jew human being was only allowed one square yard to occupy.

But if the environmentalists who are over the top get their way, we would be living only with candlelight, oh! wait a minute, that would also pollute the air. Hmmm, what to do! Katerina

Feb 18, 2009 01:50 AM #25
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Jeff Dowler CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
Carlsbad CA Homes for Sale (760) 840-1360

YIkes, I had no idea. I find it a bit disheartening. Seems to me there may be bigger issues that ought to be addressed from an environmental perpsective. Such a change from New England where wood burning fireplaces are so common, as in other cold areas. But given the other restrictions that have been passed around smoking on beaches adn similar, guess I should not be surprised.

Jeff

Feb 18, 2009 08:56 AM #26
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Norma Toering
Charlemagne International Properties - Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Palos Verdes & Beach Cities Homes in L.A. CA

When I lived in Maine I had a huge walk-in fireplace--and I loved it.  I can't imagine ever converting it to gas logs--let's hope this remains a California thing.  We don't burn leaves or logs, but our freeways are clogged and smog hangs overhead too many days in LA.

Feb 18, 2009 11:16 AM #27
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William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - San Diego, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE

Good Morning Katerina, Thank you for posting this comment. It says a lot about life today and the extremes of the pendulum swing. Unlke other animals on the planet, we were given reasoning brains and we soon discovered resources for survival. Fire comes to mind. I guess as animals we do use and waste a lot of resources in our survival as a species. And yes, I am a creature that enjoys the beauty of nature and understand all to well how we have at the expense of lesser creatures usurped their environment . With that said, I also realze the struggle for survival as a species has over a long life span rewarded the fittest and allowed the weaker to parish. That would seem to be the natural order of life. Then we have our public servants that feel the need to control everything. When I was in Boy Scouts I learned about and created for myself what we call a "Buddy Burner". It consisted of 1 large can, 1 small can, cardboard , wax and a piece of cord. Back when you could buy wax for canning ( which only a few do today). These items were things easily found that could be used for survival to cook something and make it safe to eat. The idea was to cut the small can ( Sterno can was what was eventually manufactured) roll up the cardboard and fill with wax adding the cord as a wick.  The large can would have a section cut out from the lower side allowing air to get under the big can ( the little can was placed under the big can)  to keep the wick burning melting the wax and creating heat. The top of the can would get hot and it became the stove ( portable cooking devices used for travel and camping ) was what was manufactured from this idea. What Boy Scouts taught us was to survive ( if the need should arise) there are ways to think though things and come up with essentials to sustain life. I look at wood burning as one of those essentials. Fire and wood. It is as essential as air itself and  when they take that away, it demonstrates to me that so many of those leading don't have what it takes it lead a species of animals. They are the fatalists that could not survive on their own with their strange ideas of what is natural and what is not. Why do so many people follow those that do not know how to lead. The Pied Piper comes mind.    

Feb 18, 2009 11:34 AM #28
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William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - San Diego, CA
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Hi Jeff, Thanks for the comment. I wonder what these same folks think about the needed natural burns of vegetation either by man or nature. Humm, parish the thought.

Feb 18, 2009 11:47 AM #29
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William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - San Diego, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE

Hi Norma, Thanks for dropping by and sharing your great comment here on my post. I think you really captured the point, " A California Thing". One would think that California leads most other states on things of major importance. As you suggest, Let's hope this idea is not one of them, :-)

Feb 20, 2009 09:26 AM #30
Rainmaker
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Jeff R. Geoghan
Coldwell Banker Select Professionals - Lancaster, PA
Marketing VP & Real Estate Agent Trainer

I had heard about this impending ban somewhere - maybe on Drudge.  I'm sorry, but there's intelligent and thoughtful regulation designed to achieve the best outcome for the community - and then there's hair-tearing, wide-eyed paranioa based on some lobby group's actions or a questionable analysis, agreed to by lawmakers in the interest of striking a pose.  Personal freedom gets pinched in the second instance almost every time.  Jefferson would be rolling over in his grave.

Feb 22, 2009 09:03 PM #31
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Todd Clark
Keller Williams Realty - Beaverton, OR
Broker - Beaverton, Oregon Real Estate Expert - (503) 524-9494

You have to love government outlawing a renewable resource because it is bad for the environment? HUH? Electric and Gas are a lot worse as they burn coal to produce about 80% of the electricity we use to heat our homes.

Todd Clark, Helping Families Home - www.IFoundYourNewHome.com

Feb 23, 2009 12:25 AM #32
Rainmaker
1,134,911
Evelyn Johnston
Elkhart County Subdivisions, LLC - Elkhart, IN
Super Agent, Probably the Best Agent in the Galaxy

What sad times these will be with no more wood burning fireplaces.  I love the smell outdoors!  Reminds me of camping out with my family when I was little.

Feb 28, 2009 10:05 AM #33
Rainmaker
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Sharon Paxson
HÔM Sotheby's International Realty, BRE License 01501912 - Newport Beach, CA
Newport Beach Real Estate - HOM Sotheby's Int'l Re

William - I was not aware of this, however I suppose I am not surprised. I could not imagine a home in the mountains without one.

Mar 02, 2009 09:51 AM #34
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William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - San Diego, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE

Good Morning Jeff, Thanks for dropping by. Life takes interesting turns  but when coupled with what some environmentalists consider their duty, it seems to be a battle that leaves its lay citizens scratching their heads wondering ,what possibility could next.

Mar 03, 2009 10:20 AM #35
Rainmaker
390,932
Elizabeth Cooper-Golden
Huntsville Alabama Real Estate, (@ Homes Realty Group) - Huntsville, AL
Huntsville AL MLS

William, Oh my gosh.  Are they really going to do this?  I LOVE fireplaces.  I typically have a wood burning, but this home has gas logs. I don't care for the "fake"logs.  I don't know what to think about this.  If I read your post right, even existing homes will not be able to use their wood burning unless they convert?  :(

Mar 03, 2009 08:37 PM #36
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William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - San Diego, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE

Good Morning Elizabeth, On the 9th, the new ruling becomes effective. And yes, it affects those that already have a wood burning fireplace. New fines will eventually be imposed and one neighbor that sees the smoke coming out of the fireplace of another neighbors home will eventually be reporting it. We live in strange times and it will I am believe it will get a lot stranger as time passes.

Mar 04, 2009 11:23 AM #37
Rainer
27,113
Josh & Julie Hambarian
Josh & Julie - Steele Realty. North County San Diego Coastal - Encinitas, CA

Oh man.  I just bought a home in Encinitas and was looking into installing a wood burning stove when I came across this post.  Please tell me it's not true?  I had no idea.  I'm going to do some more research on the particulars, but do you recommend anywhere to find something that is compliant if it does exist?

Dec 09, 2010 08:07 PM #38
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William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - San Diego, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE

Hi Julie and Josh, I wrote this post early last year and I have not done any updating to discuss current laws and how they apply. Local municipalities would also have to weigh in. Until I do the research, I would certainly call the building dept to see if the zoning laws have in fact affected the area. Codes are applicable to new constructions and modifications where a permit is involved. I would suggest as I understand it, that the law would be applicable to new wood stoves and if only others could advise if they can be used without penalty. Thanks for writing about this and I will try and discover  what is now current and how it applies. Then I will write another post to update this one. 

Dec 09, 2010 08:38 PM #39
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William Johnson

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