Capitol Corner Update
September 30, 2018 marked the final deadline for Governor Brown to sign or veto active legislation. The end of September also brought the conclusion of the 2017-18 two-year legislative session. This legislative session focused on many of CALBO’s legislative priorities such as: seismic resiliency, accessory dwelling units, and safety enforcement. CALBO closely monitored these issue areas, as many of the bills that were introduced would have directly affected building department’s administrative procedures and daily code implementation. In order to communicate our interests, CALBO took a strong position on several bills. CALBO leadership and staff actively engaged state legislators and partnered with local government organizations and our own CALBO membership in order to communicate our positions on priority issues.
Through these collaborative efforts, CALBO’s opinions and voices were heard and widely addressed. This was seen in many bills, including AB 2681 (Nazarian), SB 831 (Wieckowski), and AB 3002 (Grayson). AB 2681 (Nazarian) focused on creating a potentially vulnerable building inventory in order to bring awareness to seismic resiliency in California. CALBO opposed this measure since it contained a statewide mandate and failed to identify a funding source for the program. CALBO was concerned that program costs could fall on local jurisdictions and create a large deficit for affected cities and counties. Governor Brown vetoed this bill and stated that a partnership between the state, local governments, and building owners could create a suitable approach in order to address seismic resiliency in the future. This legislative victory was due in large part to membership participation and outreach to your representatives. Many local jurisdictions answered CALBO’s call to action and wrote letters to legislators and the governor, in order to express concerns with the bill. CALBO continues to support local seismic resiliency efforts that address the uniqueness of California’s regions and will make this a priority in the coming legislative session.
CALBO’s advocacy efforts also successfully influenced SB 831 (Wieckowski) and AB 3002 (Grayson). Along with many other local governments advocates, CALBO was able to communicate our concerns on both bills. Ultimately, SB 831 died in the Assembly Local Government Committee, and AB 3002 was amended to include CALBO suggested language. As introduced, SB 831 (Wieckowski) would have significantly amended current accessory dwelling unit law. CALBO opposed this bill as a section of the language called for Building Officials to “approve a delay of not less than 10 years” for an imminent risk found in the dwelling. This bill is now dead and is no longer moving forward. Alternatively, AB 3002 (Grayson) was amended and signed by the Governor. This bill will require, upon issuance of a business license, local agencies to dispense ADA requirements and information to the applicant. CALBO worked with the author’s office to require this notification at the business licensing phase, as opposed to the building permit stage of the application – which in many cases could be too late. ADA information will also be distributed by the Department of the State Architect in order to provide consistent and accurate information.
Although this legislative session brought many legislative victories, not all measures CALBO supported were signed into law. CALBO actively supported two measures that were drafted in response to the Ghost Ship fire in 2016. The Ghost Ship was a warehouse in Oakland that had been converted to artist housing. Thirty-six people were killed when the Ghost Ship caught fire in December 2016. Although the cause of the fire was never determined, experts believe it was due to faulty wiring and the lack of fire prevention measures. SB 1415 and SB 1416 were authored by Senator McGuire of Healdsburg and aimed to increase safety measures, which could prevent future tragedies such as this. Specifically, SB 1415 would have added certain building classifications to the State Fire Marshal’s inventory. Its sister bill, SB 1416, would have allowed local governments to collect fines for nuisance abatement. CALBO actively advocated for these safety measures, however, the Governor vetoed both bills. In his veto messages, Governor Brown expressed his support of local government solutions. He supports Sacramento’s current program that monitors vacant buildings and believes Oakland, and similar cities, can implement their own programs to meet local needs. CALBO will continue to support safety measures and welcomes the possibility of supporting legislation that aids local enforcement officers in the future.
Another measure CALBO closely monitored was SB 1226 by Senator Bates. This bill would authorize building officials to permit existing structures as of the year they were built. This measure came from City of Encinitas, as local officials did not believe it was in their authority to retroactively permit structures. The Legislative Analyst Office released an opinion, which stated this authority does in fact reside in the California Building Code. CALBO supported the opinion that authority was already clarified in existing code and all decisions should be left to the discretion of the jurisdiction. For these reasons, CALBO opposed SB 1226 and actively lobbied against it. Despite these efforts, this bill was signed by Governor Brown on September 30.
Through this active legislative session, CALBO tracked dozens of other bills that would have ramifications on local building departments. If you wish to read more about CALBO’s legislative efforts, please visit the CALBO legislative webpage, which is updated in real time when the legislature is in session. If you would like a full overview of CALBO’s bills of interest, you can also reference our online bill reports on the same webpage. You can also view an End of Session Report which contains bills that will go into effect as of January 1, 2019.
If you have any questions, or wish to know more about CALBO’s legislation of interest, feel free to contact Katie Almand, CALBO Government Affairs Manager.