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On the Market: New fireplace rules on the horizon

May 1, 2010 |  6:49 am

When Jess Bravo, 33, a real estate agent with Zenith Properties Inc. in Newport Beach, started renovating the early 19th century Los Angeles home she bought in February, she found an artistic gem buried in the wall around the fireplace.

“We found a beautiful tiled Spanish mural behind about four layers of paint and restored it,” Bravo said. “I was told that some people in Silver Lake have murals similar to mine around their fireplaces that could be worth up $80,000, depending on the artist.”

Bravo’s hearth may not be typical. But many buyers love a fireplace.

“People from East Coast are often looking for a fireplace,” said Bravo, who has been selling real estate since 2007.

However, with studies linking particulate soot to increased lung and respiratory problems, more than a dozen air districts in Central and Northern California and cities and regions across the West have wood-burning programs, and the Southland is no exception, said Sam Atwood, a spokesman for the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

In September 2008, the agency adopted Rule 445 governing wood-burning devices, which required the installation of fireplaces certified by the Environmental Protection Agency as clean-burning when existing Southern California homes or businesses are remodeled.

An additional provision preventing Southland builders from installing wood-burning fireplaces in new construction went into effect March 9, 2009. And a new rule banning fireplace use in specific areas on high-pollution days (typically, 15 to 20 days a year from Nov. 1 to March 31), with fines for violators ranging from $50 to $500, will go into effect Nov. 1, 2011.

Atwood said the AQMD would provide information on ban days and areas when the rule takes effect. And the curtailments, which don’t apply to outdoor fires unless they are in a permanent structure, will affect residents only in areas where pollution is found to be at unhealthy levels.

“We hope to continue a trend toward the use of cleaner-burning fireplaces that use natural gas logs, for example,” Atwood said.

For information about reducing air pollution from wood-burning fireplaces and requirements of AQMD’s Rule 445, visit

Looking for a hearth to light? Here are some homes with fireplaces on the market.

1566 hillcrest ave 

1566 Hillcrest Ave., Glendale

Listed at $1,349,900 at, this Glendale Mediterranean features a large living room with a classic Batchelder tile fireplace. Built in 1923, the two-story mountain-view home has a pool and four bedrooms and four bathrooms in 3,591 square feet.

13617 bassett st. van nuys 

13617 Bassett St., Van Nuys

Listed at $425,000 at, the 1951 single-family home features a large brick fireplace and three bedrooms and three bathrooms in 2,242 square feet. The home last sold for $629,000 in April 2005.

1935 8TH AVE, LOS ANGELES 90018 

1935 8th Ave., Los Angeles

This 1909 Craftsman home in historic Arlington Heights features a wood-burning fireplace, a large front porch and three bedrooms and two bathrooms in 2,762 square feet. The home is listed as available for lease at $3,000 a month.

18900 ringling 

18900 Ringling St., Tarzana

Listed at $1,579,000 at, this Spanish-style home in a gated community was rebuilt in 2004 and features a double-sided fireplace in the living room. Built in 1956, the single-story home is on a quiet cul-de-sac and features a pool, six bedrooms and 5 1/2 bathrooms in 4,761 square feet and has a motivated seller.

1401 la canada drive brea 

1401 La Canada Drive., Brea

Built in 1963 and listed at $450,000 ($115,000 less than the original December list price) at, this single-family home with pool has two fireplaces and four bedrooms and three bathrooms in 2,246 square feet.

-- Michelle Hofmann