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Does Your Big Bear Lake Cabin have a Wood Shake Roof?

If so, you may be interested in this.

Effective July 1, 2012, all homeowners within the City of Big Bear Lake, have to remove wood shake/shingle roofs from their property (in compliance with Big Bear Lake city ordinance 2007-373).  The ordinance was approved back in July of 2007 in an attempt to reduce structural fires with fire-resistant materials.

In conjunction with this ordinance, the City of Big Bear Lake/Big Bear Lake Fire Protection District received funding from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through a Hazard Mitigation Grant to reimburse homeowners who live near the San Bernardino National Forest.  Identified property owners within 1,500 feet of the Forest can receive up to 70% of the lowest contract bid to replace their shake shingle roofs.  Homeowners must be in strict compliance with state and local defensible space requirements and they must also attend a workshop which explains the program.  If your property qualifies for this grant, it will save you thousands of dollars so make sure to look into this!

How is this Ordinance Being Enforced

According to the ordinance, “The owner of the applicable property, within the City of Big Bear Lake, at the time of sale, or at the voluntary transfer, shall be required to produce at the close of escrow or, if there is no escrow, have in the owner’s possession on the effective date of sale or transfer, a “certificate of compliance” from the Fire Chief stating that the said property is in compliance with City of Big Bear Lake Development Code Section 17.25.090(A)(3) and the California Building Standards, as adopted by the City, prohibiting wood shake shingle roofing”.

A point-of-sale initiative like this brings up a couple of interesting arguments.

1). How many homes sell each year that have shake roofs? This ordinance only relates to properties that voluntarily transfer their property. In 2010, according to the Big Bear MLS, there were 14 properties that had shake roofs. That’s 14 out of 993 properties that changed hands in an entire year. To me, it seems like the majority of properties that have shake roofs in Big Bear are the properties that stay in a family and get passed down from generation to generation. A very small percentage of homes will really fit this scenario….I just want to make sure you’re not one of the select few that didn’t know about it when buying a bank owned property that was sold “as-is” and your agent wasn’t aware or didn’t disclose it to you.

2). It’s difficult to find an insurance company that will insure a home that has a wood shake roof nowadays. So that check and balance should take care of itself. Every once in a while, you’ll get an insurance company that will allow you to close on property, but requires a written release which states that you will replace the roof within “x” days after the close of escrow to insure they’re getting a property with a new roof.

All in all, I think this initiative is a step in the right direction.  Most people know that Big Bear is susceptible to fires based on its climate, it’s geography, and it’s topography (it’s surrounded by National Forest)…creating defensible space and having a fire prevention plan is a necessity when you live in the mountains. But I wouldn’t expect this initiative to be posted everywhere. Just make sure your real estate agent is aware of this so you can negotiate it out properly with a seller if you’re trying to buy a property in Big Bear. As a seller, make sure you’re aware of this so you can be prepared for a buyer that makes this request. As they say, knowledge is power…and having an agent that’s on your side that knows current and future legislation will benefit you.

Below is a copy of the ordinance. If you have any questions or if we can be of any assistance feel free to call/email me.

Ordinance 2007 373


  1. Well said, Mike. My new neighbors just bought a second home with a wood shake roof. The home was listed with an off the hill agent and was sold by an off the hill agent. No one was aware of the shake roof ordinance and needless to say, the new home owners are rather upset. Just goes to show how valuable it is to use a local agent!


  1. […] here compared to properties further east).  The buyers have already addressed the shake roof (click here to read about city ordinance 2007-373) and it has a nice Old World charm to it.  There was a big disparity between list price and sales […]

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