Bay Area Air Quality Management District Considers New Rules for Homes with Wood-Burning Fireplaces

Homeowners may soon have to convert their wood-burning fireplace into one that runs on natural gas or electricity.

By next winter, the Bay Area Quality Management District is considering a proposal forcing anyone who is selling a home to replace their standard fireplace with a non-wood burning fireplace.

The possible changes are in response to wood burning continuing to be the highest source of Winter air pollution in the Bay Area, according to the district.

"It continues to be a concern," said Tom Flannigan, district spokesman."We're still seeing localized impact, especially in the Inland Valleys here in the Bay Area."

If approved, the new rules will impact real estate market, according to Mary Lou Maggetti, a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty.

"It will have an impact on the market. We won't see it so much now because it's a sellers market," Maggetti said. "But in the future, once the market takes a turn it will affect future sales."

Maggetti said roughly 80 percent of the home she lists have wood-burning fire places. The cost to replace each one is about $5,000 to $6,000, according to Penguin Fireplace in San Jose.

The district plans to hold a series of workshops across the Bay Area through the end of April to discuss the proposal -- the first meeting will be held Wednesday night at the Morgan Hill Community Center.

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