On Friday, October 10, 1997, I mailed out 1,778 questionnaires to all of the new homeowners in the Anaheim Hills who have purchased their residence since the landslide that occurred on January 19, 1993. The following results are a compilation of the statements made by those new homeowners.
Their statements show that new homeowners are not being informed as to the "Area 4" seismic hazards that exist in the Anaheim Hills area -- as required by law.
The law specifically states:
2694. Disclosure by property seller or agent
"(a) A person who is acting as an agent for a seller of real property which is located within a seismic hazard zone, as designated under this chapter, or the seller if he or she is acting without an agent, shall disclose to any prospective purchaser the fact that the property is located within a seismic hazard zone."
ANAHEIM'S NON-DISCLOSURE OF 'AREA 4' SEISMIC HAZARD ZONES -- Background:
The Seismic Hazards Mapping Act of 1992 dictates that the State Geologist of the California Department of Mines and Geology, compile maps designating various seismic hazard zones. According to Public Resources Code 2692 (a) " it is the intent of the Legislature to provide statewide seismic hazard mapping and technical advisory program to assist cities and counties in fulfilling their responsibilities for protecting the public health and safety from the effects of strong ground-shaking, liquefaction, landslides, or other ground failure and other seismic hazards caused by earthquakes".
Availability of the "official maps":
Since the "official" Seismic Hazards Maps for Anaheim are readily available to everyone and since they contain the seismic hazard zoning designations of "Area 4" -- they automatically trigger the State disclosure requirement.
The following table, according to the respondents of our survey, shows how these Real Estate Companies and Sellers abide by the State of California's Disclosure Laws:
As per the written statements of the survey respondents, the fact that, out of the above 26 companies, only First Team and Prudential 'Sometimes Disclosed' that the property was located within a seismic hazard zone is astonishing. But the fact that not a single real estate company or seller 'Always Disclosed' that the property was located within a seismic hazard zone is truly tragic and should be investigated in relation to obvious violations of the Laws of Disclosure!
Why are the Laws of Disclosure being ignored?
All real estate agents, their brokers and their sellers realize the problem: What buyer in their right mind would purchase a home in a known seismic hazard zone? Obviously no one! One solution to this problem is to not tell the truth about the property, to hide the facts, to ignore the laws of disclosure.
When the landslide first occurred, when President Clinton declared the area a disaster real estate sales hit rock bottom. But with time, people outside the region began to house hunt the hills. So why should their friendly trustworthy real estate agent ruin the sale by telling the truth? Laws be damned!
Obviously, Mayor Daly and the City of Anaheim are also guilty of breaking the laws of disclosure since many of the responding homeowners stated that when they heard about the landslide on the news they contacted the city and were told that their area was "safe" or "outside the landslide area" or that it was "a construction problem by the original builders" -- not once were these homeowners told the truth -- that they had just purchased their dream home within the known boundaries of a seismic hazard zone! Laws be damned!