Capitol Corner Update
Reviewing the end of the 2021 Session and What to Expect in 2022
The beginning of the last year for the 2021-2022 legislative session began with a fast-paced January where elected officials had their final deadlines to move bills introduced last year through the house of origin or the house where bills were first introduced. By January 31, legislative staff and elected officials had to get their bills from last year passed on the respective floor if their bills were going to continue and CALBO’s legislative team was on top of responding as bills were discussed. Additionally, February provides the bill introduction deadline for legislation for the 2022 legislative session. CALBO’s legislative team has already met to adopt our priority bills for the upcoming year and will be having our second meeting Tuesday March 8th to discuss the last list of bills with substantive language before committee hearings begin at the end of the month. Below are some highlights of what happened in January and what to expect for this session.
Governor Newsom had until October 10th to sign bills that were passed last year or to let them become law without his signature. To find more info about what was signed and has become law please see my previous legislative update. In January, CALBO had one big bill fight that the legislative team worked closely on to improve the language and eliminate some of the major concerns with SB 379. This bill piggybacks off what was developed via SB 617 in 2021 which mandated automated permitting systems for residential solar energy systems but died in Senate Appropriations. SB 379 was an improvement, but CALBO does still have concerns with the bill, however our legislative team agreed to amendments to the bill and have moved to neutral on the piece of legislation that is now sitting in the California State Assembly.
CALBO was able to testify as the lead opposition witness to the bill in the Senate Energy Committee and pushed the sponsor and author to adopt amendments to SB 379 to help our local jurisdictions in complying with this legislation if it is passed by the Assembly and signed. The amendments adopted include further exemptions for smaller cities and counties from adopting an automated permitting system, providing flexibility for local building departments to avoid using these systems if the technology is not capable at the time of an application to permit specific systems such as energy storage, and has been heavily involved in the SolarAPP+ grant guidelines public workshops by the California Energy Commission to provide more resources and funding for our jurisdictions that are looking to move towards an automated permitting system for residential solar energy systems. Although there are still concerns with SB 379, CALBO’s legislative team has been heavily involved in both the legislative and public comment process to provide more resources to our departments as a proactive approach to future potential requirements from the state on our jurisdictions.
For the upcoming legislative session, CALBO is already hard at work at developing and working with the legislature on several bills during this election year. As some of you know, 2022 is an election year and will be the first election with the new legislative districts finalized by the California Redistricting Commission in December 2021. As a result, several lawmakers have announced they will not be running for re-election or are introducing significant bills to help in their election bids for the new districts they will be running in this fall. Due to these events, CALBO will have an extremely busy legislative session. Currently, CALBO is tracking over 60 bills including 13 “spot bills” or bills with no substantive language and has positions on 25 bills with 14 of them listed as high priority. Below are a few of the bills for this legislative session that CALBO has an official position on.
AB 1738: This bill would require mandatory building standards for the installation of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations designated as Level 2 or Direct Current Fast Charging Stations (DCFC) in existing multifamily dwellings, hotels, motels, schools, and nonresidential buildings. Additionally, this bill designates the California Building Standards Commission (BSC) to publish these standards by the next triennial code cycle. CALBO appreciates the intention of going through the regulatory process via the BSC however we have serious concerns with the language that specifies what standards should be in the code and specific requirements with the new standards including consideration of “cost effective trigger points” in the potential regulations. Level 2 and DCFC also have several safety concerns that are best addressed in the regulatory process but specific requirements in statute that influence the regulatory process is not the best approach to address California’s green energy goals. CALBO would rather see more vague language that provides more flexibility for BSC to adopt these standards in a safe, effective, and feasible manner. As a result, CALBO opposes this bill as written.
SB 897: This bill specifies that the construction of an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) does not constitute an occupancy change under the local building code. Additionally, this bill prohibits a local agency from denying a permit for a constructed, but unpermitted ADU because the unit is in violation of the building standards or state or local standards applicable to ADUs unless the violation would have an impact on public health and safety. For a multitude of reasons CALBO opposes this bill. Occupancy changes are the main concerns because the difference between a habitable and uninhabitable space are significant in terms of life-safety issues. Additionally, complying with the building code is necessary to protect public safety and building officials need the capability to deny permits that are not in compliance with the code. I have met with the author’s office on this bill and have brought forward our concerns and I am looking to provide better language in the bill to protect public safety such as granting discretion to building officials on a case-by-case basis to deny or approve these ADU permits.
SB 855: This bill would establish a childhood drowning data collection pilot program to better understand how childhood drownings are occurring in California. As building officials, we take pride in the ability of our members to promote public safety and have worked closely with our partners in providing education and outreach to limit the number of these unfortunate events from happening in the state. CALBO is proud to support this bill and will look forward to understanding how residential houses with pools and spas can better improve safety for children in their own backyard.
AB 2650: Another bill addressing childhood drownings that unfortunately goes too far for our members, since it requires home inspectors and building officials to take childhood drowning prevention training once every three years to keep their certifications and would disallow any inspector from permitting and inspecting residences with pools or spas if the new certificate is not obtained. Although CALBO understands the need to address and promote child safety around pools as noticed by our support of SB 855, increasing and mandating training is not the best approach to prevent these terrible events as our members are already fully aware of the safety needs around pools and spas. California should focus on providing more education and outreach to homeowners with children that have private pools to better promote public safety and look for other ways to improve safety around these bodies of water. As you all are aware, once a permit is finalized for a pool, homeowners may choose to remove the required prevention methods by law and that is out of our members hands. Better training for code officials is not the answer to stop these events from occurring but finding other ways to prevent drownings by looking over effective tools or techniques and providing more information about the issue is the best solution to this problem. Due to these reasons CALBO has officially opposed this bill.
For a full listing of legislative items of interest to CALBO members, please check out our All Bills Report on the CALBO website. There are several notable measures of high interest to CALBO and our stakeholders, which is why we have kept them on our radar and are actively monitoring their progress.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to continuing to advocate for our members in Sacramento and sincerely appreciate your continued support.
Public Affairs Manager, CALBO