News for California Building Departments Issue #34, April - June 2012

In This Issue:

New 2012 Legislative Bills

2012 Triennial Code Adoption Cycle

New Commissioners

Purpose of 15 and 45 day public comment periods

Important Dates

April 26-27, 2012: Green Summit in Sacramento. Details are available at

April 18, 2012: California Building Standards Commission Hearing. An agenda will be available on the CBSC website. This meeting may be Webcasted at

May 1, 2012: : Building Safety Month begins. Information is available at the ICC website.

Other News & Things to Remember

In 2011 Cal Fire (California's Office of the State Fire Marshal) Peace Officers made 80 arson-related arrests, issued over 3,000 citations for violations of forest and fire laws, and confiscated approximately 90,000 pounds of illegal and dangerous fireworks. This and other interesting information is found in a report, 2011 In Review, on the Cal Fire website, under the Hot Topics list.

The Division of the State Architect (DSA) website shows the 2012 Construction Cost Threshold Value to be $136,060.00. This value is necessary when applying California Building Code Section 1134B.2.1, Exception 1, in regard to accessibility improvements while performing structural repairs, alterations and renovations to existing buildings. The value is adjusted each January. The 2011 valuation was $132,536.28. At the DSA website, look under "Access Compliance", then "Valuation Threshold."

Useful Websites

State Fire Marshal

California Legislature

Department of Housing and Community Development

California Energy Commission

California Building Standards Commission

U.S. Green Building Council

Environmental Building News

Global Green USA

Office of Administrative Law

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Legislation of Interest to Building Departments

It is just weeks into the 2012 portion of the 2011/2012 legislative session, and there are numerous bills relating to buildings — so many, it will be impossible to list them all. There are multiple bills on the same subject. For example, there are at least five bills regarding requirements for notice of, and property owner responses to, complaints regarding access compliance. Listed below are bills making proposals that may impact local building departments directly or indirectly. It is very early in the legislative process, and bills are likely to be amended, which may change the impact — and many bills will die during the various hearings.

SB 726 proposes to allow a county to opt not to be subject to the requirements of the California Residential Code for fire sprinklers in single-family dwellings.

AB 1959 proposes to have the Building Standards Commission consider adopting building standards in the next edition of the Green Building Standards Code (Part 11 of Title 24) adopted after January 1, 2013, regarding toxic air contaminants.

AB 2030 proposes to have the Building Standards Commission adopt building standards requiring a stadium press box to be on an accessible route.

AB 2135 proposes to have the Building Standards Commission adopt emergency building standards for solar distributed generation technology on residential and commercial properties.

AB 2525 proposes to require vents used on fuel-burning tankless water heaters to be tested materials, under specific conditions.

AB 2644 proposes to require the Building Standards Commission to adopt building standards for the construction, installation, and alteration of electric vehicle charging stations for single-family residential properties, during the next edition of the code adopted after January 1, 2014.

There are numerous other bills to watch, including: AB 1750, AB 1870, AB 1878, AB 1879, AB 1959, AB 1994, AB 2114, AB 2325, SB 1163, SB 1186 and SB 1222. With amendments surely to come, our watch list and bills for close following will change.

Find all legislative bills.

Did You KnowDid You Know?
15-day and 45-day Comment Periods

Did you know why there are 15-day and 45-day public comment periods during a Code Adoption Cycle administered by the Building Standards Commission? In the recent code adoption cycle there were both 15-day and 45-day comment periods. What is the difference?

The answer is found in state law. There are two bodies of state law that govern the process of adopting building standards for publication in Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations. First is the California Building Standards Law in Health and Safety Code, Division 13, Part 2.5, commencing with Section 18901. The other is known as the Administrative Procedures Act in Government Code, Title 1, Division 3, Part 1, Chapter 3.5, commencing with Section 11340. These laws require the state agencies to provide the public notice of proposed building standards, and allow the public an opportunity to participate.

When a new proposal is made, the public comment period must be at least 45 days in length. The notice to the public is published in the California Regulatory Notice Register, which may be viewed at the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) website The proposing agency must also notify persons and entities that have been listed in the agency's records as an interested party for such information, in addition to placing the notice on their website. After the 45 days have expired and a public hearing has been held, the proposing state agency may amend the originally proposed building standard language based on public comment.

Should the amendment to the proposed building standard language be substantial in nature, the state agency must allow the public another 45-day comment period. However, if the amendment is nonsubstantive and closely related to the original notice to the public, the amended regulatory language must be made available to the public, but for only 15 days. A nonsubstantive amendment would include changes in grammar and punctuation, word exchanges, clarifications, and similar changes that would not add a burden or requirement on the regulated public that was not disclosed in the original notice. Occasionally, a second 15-day public comment period is conducted because addition amendments are made to address public comments received during the first 15-day public comment period. This occurred during the last code adoption cycle.

To learn more about the rulemaking process to adopt building standards for inclusion in Title 24, visit the California Building Standards Commission website. Look under the "Codes" tab, then click on "Processes". Also, see the rulemaking information available at the OAL website.


What's Up with the State?

The 2012 Triennial Code Adoption Cycle to adopt the 2012 editions of the International Building, Residential, Fire, and Existing Building Codes, 2012 editions of the Uniform Plumbing and Mechanical Codes, and the 2011 edition of the National Electrical Code, is underway. A timeline of events is available on the CBSC 2012 cycle page. Some of the state agencies have already held public meetings to discuss the adoptions. Watch the CBSC website for meeting announcements.

In preparation for the 2012 Triennial Code Adoption Cycle, the DSA announced that for accessibility, three formats were to be considered for the 2013 California Building Code (CBC), and requested public input.

The public response was:

  • 65% prefer adoption of the 2010 ADA Standards;
  • 21% prefer adoption of the International Building Code accessibility provisions; and
  • 14% prefer the current accessibility standards in Chapter 11B and 11C of the CBC.

On March 15, 2012, DSA announced their intent to adopt the 2010 ADA Standards and retain any current CBC provisions that are more restrictive than the ADA Standards. While the 2012 Triennial cycle proceeds, DSA plans to adopt emergency standards effective July 1, 2012, to eliminate conflicts with the current CBC standards and ADA Standards. Read more about this matter at the DSA website. Look for "Accessibility Related Amendments to the Building Code, Format Selection-2013 California Building Code Access Provisions", under "Access Compliance."

The Building Standards Commission has a new educational document titled It's Your Building Department available on their website. This booklet contains information for elected officials and executive managers in local government on the responsibilities of a building department. The booklet may be read or printed from the BSC website.

Governor Brown has appointed the following new Commissioners to the Building Standards Commission:

  • Rose Conroy, as a Local Fire Official representative, effective January 1, 2012
  • Randy Twist, as a Contractor representative, effective January 1, 2012
  • Richard Sierra, as an Organized Labor representative, effective March 1, 2012.

Commissioner appointees must be confirmed by the State Senate. Long time Commissioner James Barthman has been reappointed for another four-year term. There are two remaining vacancies on the Commission.

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