Seller: Is this a legal triplex? City: It's occupied as triplex. Huh?

Real Estate Agent with Alain Pinel BRE 01367196

Seller: Is this a legal triplex?

City: It's occupied as a triplex.

The question was asked: “Is it a legal triplex?”
Per public records, this property was built in 1963 as a duplex in Oakland CA. Shortly after that, a permit was issued and finaled (approved) to add a bedroom and to relocate the laundry room in the basement. And since then, the property was occupied as a triplex.

The certificate of occupancy shows it as a triplex. It's used as a triplex.  It’s zoned R-3.  It’s been, and is being taxed as a triplex by the Tax Assessor’s office. Property profile on public records show it as a triplex.

Is there a 3-R report for Oakland CA?
Finding  the answer as it pertains to 3R report in  Oakland CA  was a challenge. There is no clear path on the City’s website to find their description or form. I found San Francisco’s 3-R info…but not Oakland.

That’s ominous that Oakland doesn’t have this information easy to find.

What’s a 3R report?checklist
A Report of Residential Building Record, also known as a 3R report describes the property as well as provide a record of permits or violations. This Report may contain the following information about a residential building besides the address, block and lot

·      Percent authorized occupancy or use

·      Zoning

·      Building code occupancy classificiation

·      Expiration date for non-conforming use

·      Building construction date

·      Original occupancy or use

·      Building permit application history and status of permits

·      Franchise Tax Board lien

·      Abatement case on the property

·      Number of residential structures on the lot

Here’s your 3R report...but what does it say?
When the seller received his 3-R report, it wasn’t clear what the City Planners were telling him. The planners still did not specify in black and white if the building is a triplex. It merely said it was occupied as a triplex.

Oh....and it identifies the building as circa 1926...but public records show it was built in 1963.?

So in spite of paying for the report (including the fee to rush the order), the Seller is nowhere near the clear answer that he wants.According to the Seller, here's what he encountered when he applied for the 3R report.

Triplex per 3Rhuh?

“Zoning department said if I got an 3R report and a Certificate of Occupancy  they could probably just grandfather it in as a Triplex.

The Zoning Department said that Oakland’s Planning and Permit had final say, and if they change the structure to an R-3 (triplex) that ends the matter.  Building Permit / Planning department said it will just be accepted as a Triplex. Since it has been used as a dwelling since 1963 they probably could just reclassify it as a Triplex.”

Because of the ambiguity of the 3R report, the Seller is making another trip to see the Planners to ask them again: “Is this  a legal triplex?”


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Lloyd Binen
Certified Realty Services - Saratoga, CA
Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411

In Santa Clara County we can't use the zoning for determining approved use.  I use the "use code".  I don't understand how a permit for a bedroom and re-location of laundry hookups can be construed as approval as a triplex.  Check the Use Code.

Sep 03, 2012 12:09 PM #1
Candice A. Donofrio
Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker - Fort Mohave, AZ
928-201-4BHC (4242) call/text

How interesting, Pacita. I just went round the Maypole with a local Planner over appropriate use for a property.  Clear as mud a lot of the time. Usually, the use history shapes the definition.

That report says the building construction date was 'circa 1926', I noticed. Wonder what it was before 1968?

Should be educational, finding out what is what! :D

Sep 03, 2012 12:11 PM #2
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Lloyd --- since 1963, the property was identified on the pubic records as a triplex. Property profile shows it as a triplex. It is being taxed as a triplex. And is being used as a triplex. Seller bought it as a triplex, and wants to sell it as a triplex.

Candice -- the report does say circa 1926...but the public records and property profile also shows it as having been built in 1963. Hence, it is so confusing. Also underlines the fact that public records are frequently erroneous.

Sep 03, 2012 12:22 PM #3
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

Now this sounds like a messy issue Pacita. If anyone can solve this, you can!

Keep us posted!

Sep 03, 2012 03:48 PM #4
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Tom --- that's like fighting city hall :)


Sep 03, 2012 03:53 PM #5
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Pacita Dimacali

Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
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