Alameda County Local Area Management Plan 

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Piedmont Pines Neighborhood Association is indebted to the hours and hours of work and immense talent (and tenacity) that neighbors Lara and Kent Grisemer of Castle Drive have poured into getting workable solutions for compliance with new state regulations designed to improve the quality of Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (septic). It takes a village!


--by Kent Grisemer, Castle Drive homeowner

I wanted to let all neighbors in the Oakland Hills know about an issue many are having with the City of Oakland. This issue effects all properties that are currently on a septic system with no City sewer fronting their house. 

Current law states that no additions (an addition is considered to be either any project over $100,000, an added bathroom, or an added bedroom) may be made to any house that is on a septic system unless they connect to the City sewer. Another law states that no new or replacement septic systems may be built, but instead the properties that are connected to said failing septic system will have to connect to the City sewer. These laws are being pushed by the Alameda County Health Department for the good of all residents, helping to reduce ground and water pollution caused by septic systems.

Unfortunately, there is an added regulation that makes this conversion to City Sewer unattainable by the average resident: If the house that is required to connect to the City sewer does not currently have a City sewer adjacent to their property, the owners must extend said sewer themselves. Due to the nature of extending the City Sewer in the Hills and having to follow all City infrastructure codes and regulations, this runs on the magnitude of ~$500/ft (this number is the lowest estimate I received for looking into extending the City sewer 200' up the hill to my residence).

Obviously this exorbitant cost is unattainable by the average Oakland Hills resident. I discovered this issue after considerable time and expense was spent on designing my combined septic and house renovation. I was informed by the city that I would have to extend the sewer in order to get the required permits for construction. After getting the above mentioned estimates, we have stopped all work as we cannot afford the $100,000 cost to extend the sewer. 

As a result I have, along with several other residents experiencing the same problems, been actively working with the Alameda Health Department to persuade the City of Oakland to come up with an affordable way for the average homeowner to convert to the City Sewer. Options include the City sewer extensions be built by the City and assessed into our property taxes or allow simpler, much cheaper systems to be utilized to extend the City system.

Unfortunately, there has been no headway with the City. If we can get more residents with concerns or who are currently effected by these rules to express their issues, hopefully we can get the City of Oakland to take notice and move on this issue. Please message me if you are interested and I can forward you an e-mail I have sent to our City Council member and the Mayor that will expand on this issue, its effects, and affordable solutions. I can also add signatures to future e-mails on the subject. The more people who express dissatisfaction with these rules, the more apt the City of Oakland is to take notice and do something to remedy the situation.