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Crown Harbor Homeowner Association

Sewer Laterals

Effective January 1, 2015, the City of Alameda modified how sewer laterals are maintained. In the City of Alameda, the City owns and maintains all public sanitary sewer mains, but the property owner owns and is responsible for maintaining a sanitary sewer lateral. This has some implications for association complexes like Crown Harbor.



A sanitary sewer lateral is typically a four-inch diameter clay or plastic pipe that delivers sewage from the structure or property to the sanitary sewer main.


  • In terms of City of Alameda ordinances, Crown Harbor is the property owner. The laterals are owned by Crown Harbor but there is an easement to allow water from the federal adjacent property to flow into our sewer drains.
  • The sewer laterals in Crown Harbor are maintained by the Association. Though all Owners are responsible for the plumbing inside their units, the Association is responsible for the line from the unit to the City main. The one exception is that the CC&Rs indicate that laterals that serve only one unit (e.g., 1302 Crown, 1303 Crown, 1335 Crown, 531 Kings, 592 Kings, 530 Queens) are the responsibility of the Owner. The board is considering an update to the CC&Rs that would treat all of the laterals consistently. This would require passage by vote of the owners.
  • The city of Alameda outlines the division of responsibilities between the city and homeowner associations.

When to test

There will be times when the upper lateral portion of the sewer lateral must be tested:
  • Every time a property sells, the upper lateral must be tested.
  • The upper lateral must be tested during a significant remodel valued at $90,000 (or higher) that includes at least one plumbing fixture.
  • Condominium complexes, like Crown Harbor, must test upper laterals within 10 years of the effective date of the ordinance and every 20 years thereafter. Private sewer laterals must be brought into compliance by July 12, 2021.

Testing process

  • A sanitary sewer lateral must be tested to ensure that it is properly connected — between the upper and lower lateral and then to the main — to be free from leaks.
  • To perform lateral testing, a building permit must be procured, and a plumber must perform the required testing.
  • If the lateral fails testing, it must be repaired or replaced, whichever is required to bring it into compliance.
  • Here is an example of a scoping process, not a testing process, at 572 Kings Road.



  • The Association can schedule the testing of the laterals as part of maintaining the community.
  • In the event of a unit sale, the selling Owner can arrange with the Association to have the upper lateral tested.
shared costs


  • In the event of a unit sale, the selling Owner covers the cost of the on-demand testing.
  • The Association covers the cost of its routine testing.
  • In either case, if a test determines that the Association's lateral needs to repaired or replaced, the Association will repair or replace the lateral and cover the cost (assuming that all laterals are treated consistently throughout the Association). For instances where negligence by an Owner is found to be responsible for a problem, the Owner is responsible for the covering the costs.


The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) recommends that residents avoid putting the following down the drain:
  • Soaps, solvents, and cleaning supplies labeled toxic, corrosive, flammable, or ignitable
  • Pills (unwanted prescriptions)
  • Oils, fats, and grease
  • Intimate one-time-use products labeled disposable, or even flushable (such as disposable wipes)
  • Landscaping materials like fertilizers and pesticides
These items are not good for the sewer lines (i.e., clog our pumps) nor the Bay.

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