Capitol Corner Update
As the first year of the 2023-2024 Legislative Session warms up like the summer heat in California, CALBO’s Legislative Team has been hard at work in Sacramento. CALBO started this year with around 25 High Priority bills, but CALBO now has around 10 bills remaining this year. Although this year has been positive, more work is required before the legislature wraps up its first year of this legislative session in September. Currently, the legislature is at recess until August 14th. Before we cover a few remaining high priority bills, let’s recap the recent membership events CALBO’s Legislative Team has hosted this spring and summer.
The Return of Leadership and Advocacy Day
After a 3-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, CALBO hosted its first Leadership and Advocacy Day (LAD) in Sacramento this May. The event was well-attended as CALBO members met with legislative staff and elected officials to discuss who CALBO is and what some of our high-priority bills are this year. Attendees participated in over 50 meetings with legislators and their staff, learned about the California Legislative Process, and got an understanding about the major pieces of legislation impacting CALBO members. LAD is an important effort for CALBO’s government relations efforts as elected officials can hear from you, their voters about issues of importance in the built environment. CALBO met with not only representatives of the respective building departments in attendance, but also members of relevant policy committees to CALBO’s legislative efforts. This was the first time CALBO got a taste of the “swing space” or the new building that legislative staff is working in as the Capitol is under renovation for the next several years. Additionally, some attendees had their first experience talking with legislative staff, who are some of the most important people in the legislature as they provide background to their bosses on policy issues and recommend how to vote on specific bills. CALBO looks forward to continuing this annual tradition next year for our members. Keep your eyes out for registration and event details later this year so YOU can participate in this important event in May 2024.
CALBO Legislative Webinars: Spring and Summer 2023
This year, CALBO’s Legislative Committee started a new program available to CALBO members as a resource to the CALBO community. We hosted 2 webinars about CALBO’s bill package and the major changes in legislation that have occurred due to CALBO’s advocacy efforts in Sacramento. In April, we announced our high priority bills for the year and explained what the legislation will do, how it will impact building departments, and how CALBO is actively working on legislation in Sacramento. We followed up with the membership in July 2023 to discuss how the bills have evolved because of CALBO’s advocacy efforts. If you missed these opportunities, you can find the most recent presentations to download as a resource here.
What bills remain?
As mentioned earlier, CALBO has had a successful year in Sacramento. CALBO has around 10 high-priority bills remaining this year, with several others that will return next year as 2-year bills. Below you will find a summary of CALBO’s Top Priority Bills and some of the changes that have been positive due to CALBO’s legislative efforts.
AB 42: This bill is CALBO’s Top Priority Bill as it has significant public health and safety concerns for the public. This bill would prohibit local building departments from enforcing or requiring fire sprinklers in temporary sleeping cabins less than 250 sq feet and on a site with 50 units or fewer until January 1, 2027. The bill lays out specific alternative fire life safety regulations that must be complied with instead of using fire sprinklers. CALBO members are very aware of the homeless crisis California is facing; however, the state should not be addressing this problem while reducing public safety. Time and time again, fire sprinklers have shown to reduce significant injury or death from structural fires and this bill would eliminate an important safety measure to protect fire life safety. CALBO has testified as the lead opposition witness to the bill in policy committee hearings, providing testimony on the importance of fire sprinklers for public safety and urging a no vote on the measure. Additionally, CALBO has had multiple conversations with the author’s office about the bill but are still very concerned with the proposed legislation. Fortunately, CALBO has been able to get some positive changes in the bill as it has moved through the legislative process including getting a sunset date in the bill and more clearly defining what type of structures would be exempt from these requirements, however foundationally we support the highest regard for public safety and are still opposed to this measure. CALBO has been working closely with the California Fire Chiefs Association, American Institute of Architects – California Chapter, and the California Association of Code Enforcement Officers in a coalition against the bill. Unfortunately, the bill has still been passing in a unanimous, bipartisan vote and will be headed to the Senate Floor in August. If you have good relationships with your local Senator or Assemblymember, we encourage you to bring attention to these issues to their district office.
AB 468: This bill is sponsored by the California Association of Code Enforcement Officers (CACEO) and focuses on promoting further public safety in the built environment. This bill would allow local enforcement agencies to enforce building code regulations in residential structures regardless of zoning ordinance or approved use of the building. This bill was in direct response to the 2016 Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire and the substandard housing conditions seen in farmworker housing in Half Moon Bay after the terrible shooting that rocked California earlier this year. The goal of this bill is to rehabilitate grotesque building code violations in illegally rented residential units to further increase health and safety. CALBO has testified as a lead support witness throughout the legislative process and has been actively working with CACEO to find tune the legislation so it can be successfully implemented at the local level. It so far has passed unanimously this legislative session and is currently in the Senate Appropriations Committee, the last step before it heads to the floor. CALBO is pleased to support this measure and hopes it will continue to move through the legislature and head to Governor Newsom’s desk.
SB 597 and SB 745: Two bills addressing water security in the built environment have been working its way through the legislature this year. These two bills were originally going to legislate code requirements for rainwater catchment systems and graywater use systems in new residential construction. Fortunately, the bills have been amended to go through the regulatory process before becoming new building code regulations. CALBO and our partners at the California Building Industry Association (CBIA) worked closely with the authors’ office to eliminate more stringent requirements and instead have the correct state agencies review potential solutions to California’s water crisis through voluntary standards in the California Green Building Standards Code. After amendments were taken to remove the required legislation of code, CALBO and CBIA moved to neutral on these measures. CALBO recognizes and believes the regulatory process has shown to be the most effective approach to develop safe, prudent, and cost-efficient building regulations in California, so we are encouraged by the efforts in the legislature to go through the regulatory process instead of legislating code and are hopeful this approach continues in Sacramento next year.
AB 1490: Adaptive reuse projects for more housing has been getting significant attention this year in Sacramento. This bill was originally going to prohibit local building departments from collecting permit fees for adaptive reuse projects and established a 30-day shot clock on permit review for these projects. Luckily after conversations with CALBO, the author removed those requirements and instead decided to focus on the planning aspect of these projects. As a result of these changes, CALBO moved to neutral on the measure. With that said, there is another bill looking at this similar approach next year for office conversion projects, although it is a 2-year bill AB 1532 is looking at removing inspection and code enforcement service fees for these highly complex projects. CALBO will be actively discussing our concerns with the author’s office later this year about the bill and inform them of the importance of permit fees for local building departments, hopefully with a better understanding of these issues this bill can be improved to address our concerns as it returns in early 2024.
These are just a few of the high priority bills CALBO has been working on in Sacramento this year, but there are numerous others. For a full listing of legislative items of interest to CALBO members, please check out our All Bills Report on the CALBO website.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns at email@example.com. I look forward to continuing to advocate for our members in Sacramento and sincerely appreciate your continued support.