The following is a summary of key events related to building standards and the BSC. This history helps to explain the development of the current processes by which building standards are adopted, approved, published, used as design and construction requirements, and enforced.
One of the earliest attempts to unify codes on the national level was the National Board of Fire Underwriters successfully promoting a "Recommended National Building Code."
The first public building law enacted in California was called the State Tenement Housing Act.
The State Division of Immigration and Housing and the State Division of Safety were created. Each had separate regulatory authority that established the unfortunate precedence of having different state departments responding individually to specific building problems that had statewide impacts.
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The Pacific Coast Building Officials - now the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) - published the first Uniform Building Code (UBC). The ICBO family of Uniform Codes has been adopted by reference or has been used as a pattern by most local governments. The UBC established uniformity of building codes in California.
The Field Act became law as a legislative response to the Long Beach earthquake. The Act assigned responsibility for the design and construction of public schools to the State Architect. This is an example of a separate regulatory authority adopting building standards in its own title - in this case, Title 21.
House Resolution No. 183 established a panel to study the building code issue and report back to the Legislature. One of the comments in that report was:
The State has no one agency concerned principally with building regulations. There are at least ten state agencies having some degree of authority in this field, and not one of them is responsible for taking the lead in coordinating the activity of all of them. This produces two kinds of confusion - conflict between state agencies themselves and too many kinds of relationships between State and local agencies. There is no consistent pattern for defining the relative responsibility of the state and local agencies in enforcing state regulations.
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The initial State Building Standards Law was enacted (Chapter 1500, Statutes of 1953). As originally enacted, the law established a California Building Standards Commission with limited powers to control the building standards regulatory process. The Commission could not question the substantive provisions of the code if it found technical defects or that the provisions would have a negative impact on the public. Also, the Commission had no control over the filing of a building standard with the Secretary of State, and no appellant powers. Because of its limited powers to control the building standard regulatory process, the Commission was unsuccessful in its attempts to resolve longstanding problems that made it almost impossible for users of the code to understand and comply with its requirements.
Building standards continued to be buried in different titles of the California Administrative Code: OSHA in Title 8, Health in Title 17, Fire Marshal in Title 19, Hospitals in Title 22, etc. There was no codification or indexing, with standards scattered through the 30,000 plus pages of the California Administrative Code. Enforcement was complicated, costly, and in some cases, nonexistent.
The Senate Interim Committee on Governmental Organization reviewed building standards and reported:
The handicaps under which the California Building Standards Commission operates emphasize the inadequacy of halfway measures. The promulgation of the State Building Standards Code would eliminate some of the confusion resulting from uncoordinated building regulations issued by the various state agencies, but would not be a substitute for an integrated department or agency with the responsibility for administration of the State's building laws activities.
SB 952 (Moscone) proposed to create a Board of Building and Safety with sole authority to adopt building standards. It was opposed by the state agencies who were adopting building standards. It was vetoed.
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The Hospital Seismic Safety Act was a legislative response to the San Fernando earthquake of 1971. The Act provided for state-regulated design and construction of certain emergency health facilities. The regulations were placed in Title 22.
AB 2265 (Greene), an administration bill, would have abolished the Department and Commission of Housing and Community Development, and created a Department of Building and Safety. It did not pass.
The Warren-Alquist State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Act was based on a legislative finding that the rapid growth rate in the demand for electric energy was in part due to wasteful, uneconomic, inefficient, and unnecessary uses of power. A continuation of this trend would have resulted in:
- The serious depletion or irreversible commitment of energy and land and water resources
- Potential threats to the State's environmental quality
The Legislature also found there was a pressing need to accelerate research and development of alternative sources of energy. This policy resulted in a situation where more than 20 agencies, ranging from the Barbers' Licensing Board to the State Architect, can adopt building standards and publish them in the separate titles of the California Code of Regulations.
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To correct the problems and confusion resulting from the uncoordinated proliferation of conflicting, duplicate, and overlapping state regulations, SB 331 (Robbins) (Chapter 1152, Statutes of 1979), effective January 1, 1980, provided the Commission with broader powers.
As a result of SB 331, all proposed building regulations adopted by various state agencies must be reviewed and approved by the Commission before the regulations have any force or effect. Further, the legislation called for all building standards to be removed from other titles of the California Code of Regulations and put into a single code - Title 24 - that the Commission is responsible for codifying and publishing. In addition, since January 1980, the Commission is charged with reviewing proposed regulations to make sure they meet the following criteria - commonly called the nine-point criteria - found in Health and Safety Code Section 18930(a):
- The regulation does not conflict, overlap, or duplicate other regulations.
- The regulation is within parameters of enabling legislation.
- The public interest requires the adoption of the regulation.
- The regulation is not unreasonable, arbitrary, unfair, or capricious.
- The cost to the public is reasonable, based on the overall benefit derived from the regulation.
- The regulation is not necessarily ambiguous or vague.
- Applicable national standards, published standards, and model codes have been incorporated.
- The format of the regulation is consistent with the BSC's format.
- The regulation, if it promotes fire and panic safety as determined by the State Fire Marshal, has their written approval.
In addition, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) requirements related to the adoption of regulations (Government Code Section 11346 et al.) must be met.
AB 4616 (Lancaster), effective January 1, 1989, provided that state agencies that adopt administrative regulations related to the implementation or enforcement of building standards must submit those regulations to the Commission for approval.
SB 2871 (Marks) provided that an amendment, addition, or deletion to the California Building Standards Code, adopted by a city, county, or city and county pursuant to provisions enacted by the bill (together with all applicable portions of the California Building Standards Code), shall become effective 180 days after its publication by the Commission. The bill also required that the building standards contained in specified codes (model codes) published by the Commission apply, with certain exceptions, to all occupancies throughout the state.
AB 4082 (Chandler) required the Commission, in conjunction with all state agencies involved in the adoption of building standards and the interested public, to conduct a comprehensive review of state building standards and statutes relating to state building standards, beginning January 1, 1991 and continuing through December 31, 1992.
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AB 47 (Eastin) transferred the adoption authority of the following state agencies to the Commission:
- Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD)
- Office of the State Fire Marshal (SFM)
- Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD)
- Office (now Division) of the State Architect (DSA)
Several pieces of legislation were introduced at this time in response to the Loma Prieta earthquake. In particular, AB 204 (Cortese) increased the regulatory authority of the Commission to include, in general, existing buildings having at least one unreinforced masonry bearing wall. Specifically, AB 204 required the Commission to adopt and publish by reference the Appendix Chapter I of the Uniform Code for Building Conservation (UCBC) to provide standards for buildings specified in that appendix.
AB 2358 (Frazee) exempted local jurisdictions that, on or before January 1, 1993, adopted programs for mitigating potentially hazardous buildings, from the application of building standards contained in the Uniform Code for Building Conservation (UCBC) as adopted by the Commission.
AB 2963 (Hauser), effective January 1, 1993, specified that only the building standards approved by the Commission that are effective at the local level at the time an application for a building permit is submitted, apply to plans and specifications as well as to construction work performed under that building permit.
AB 3515 (Lancaster), signed in 1992, was primarily a "clean-up" bill to reorganize and clarify certain provisions in the State Building Standards Law. However, there were three substantive amendments:
- The bill mandated that the Office of the State Fire Marshal review proposed building standards which, in fact, affect fire and panic safety, regardless of a state agency's intent when the standards were written.
- The effective date of regulations that implement or enforce building standards was specified in the Law to be 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State.
- The effective date of building standards adopted by the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) was also set at 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State.
SB 1588 (Kopp) required that the publication date established by the Commission for the California Building Standards Code be no earlier than the date that the Code is available for purchase by the public.
AB 1904 (W. Brown) expanded the exemption for local jurisdictions that, on or before January 1, 1993, adopted programs for mitigating potentially hazardous buildings, from the application of building standards contained in the Uniform Code for Building Conservation (UCBC) as adopted by the Commission.
AB 2351 (Committee on Ways and Means) deleted Health and Safety Code Subsection 18949.6(d), which had provided for the new annual building code advisory groups.
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AB 1780 (Hauser) directed the Commission to prepare a comprehensive listing of all state amendments developed for publication in the California Building Standards Code, Title 24, Part 2, referencing the 1994 Uniform Building Code, for the period beginning January 1, 1995 through December 31, 1995. The bill also required the Commission to determine whether or not existing state amendments in Part 2 continued to be justified under the criteria set forth in the State Building Standards Law, specifically Health and Safety Code Section 18930.
AB 717 (Ducheny, Stats. 1995, c. 623) added into the State Building Standards Law specific certification, training and continuing education requirements for construction inspectors, plans examiners and building officials who are employed by a local agency in a temporary or permanent capacity. The bill exempts any person currently and continuously employed by a local agency as an inspector, plans examiner or building official, for not less than two years prior to the effective date of the bill, from its training and certification requirements. This exemption remains in effect until that person obtains new employment, as specified.
AB 1314 (Sher, Stats. 1995, c. 941) added into the State Building Standards Law safety guidelines for the construction of structures that use baled rice straw material. This bill provided that the guidelines shall not become operative within any city or county until an express finding is made and the finding is filed with the Department of Housing and Community Development.
AB 3372 (Ducheny, Stats. 1996, c. 384) added into the State Building Standards Law authority for the California Building Standards Commission to adopt amendments to the California Building Standards Code if they are substantially the same as model code amendments that were adopted on an emergency basis by the model code publishers, provided the sections of the California Building Standards Code affected are not under the authority of another state agency.
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AB 125 (Pacheco, Stats. 1997, c. 633) added Section 18941.8 in the State Building Standards Law authority for the governing body of the County of Riverside of a city or joint powers authority within the county to adopt an ordinance that allows a building located on the former March Air Force Base to comply with specified provisions establishing state building standards in a graduated manner.
AB 1071 (Cardoza, Stats. 1997, c. 645) amended Section 18941.7 in the State Building Standards Law to include a specified joint powers agency to adopt an ordinance that allows a building located on a military base selected for closure to comply with the California Building Standards Code in a graduated manner.
AB 2697 (Ducheny, Stats. 1998, c. 426) amended State Building Standards Law to require that, with regard to proposed residential building standards, the Trade and Commerce Agency, if requested by the State Building Standards Commission, to provide an economic review of the housing cost impact statement or related study submitted by a building standards code change proponent.
SB 332 (Sher, Stats. 2002, c. 31) revised the straw bale guidelines in the State Building Standards Law and required them to apply to the construction of all structures that use baled straw within a city or county that has adopted the guidelines in existing law prior to January 1, 2002. It also provided that the guidelines would become inoperative when building standards that permit the construction of these structures become effective after approval by the California Buildign Standards Commission.
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AB 2638 (Cogdill, Stats. 2004, c. 642) added to the State Building Standards Law the requirement that written rules and regulations by a local enforcement agency to clarify the application of the California Building Standards Code be made available to the public upon request.
AB 715 (Laird, Stats. 2007, c. 499) added to the State Building Standards Law the requirement that any state agency which adopts or proposes building standards for plumbing systems consider developing building standards that would govern the use of nonwater-supplied urinals for submission to the California Building Standards Commission.
SB 1258 (Lowenthal, Stats. 2008, c. 172) added to the State Building Standards Law the provision that a local jurisdiction may prohibit the use of graywater entirely, or adopt building standards that are more restrictive than the graywater building standards adopted by the Department of Housing and Community Development and published in the California Building Standards Code.
SB 1473 (Calderon, Stats. 2008, c. 719) was enacted and became effective January 1, 2009, establishing the Building Standards Administration Special Revolving Fund (Fund). Local jurisdictions began collecting a fee from applicants for building permits assessed at the rate of $4 per each $100,000 in valuation. The local jurisdiction is permitted to retain not more than 10% of the fees for specific statutory mandated activities, with the balance of the fee submitted to the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC), deposited into the Fund and for appropriation to the CBSC, the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
SB 1473 further provides that the funds appropriated to these state agencies are to be used for carrying out the provisions of California Building Standards Law, with emphasis on the development, adoption, publication, updating, and educational efforts associated with green building standards.
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AB 1164 (Chapter 140, Statutes of 2009), amended Health and Safety Code Section 18931.7 regarding the Building Standards Administration Special Revolving Fund. Only non-substantive corrections were made.
SB 518 (Chapter 622, Statutes of 2010) adds Health and Safety Code Section 18941.8 to require that the California Building Standards Commission, as part of the next triennial edition of the California Building Standards Code adopted after January 1, 2011, to adopt building standards for the construction, installation, and alteration of graywater systems for indoor and outdoor uses in nonresidential occupancies. Water Code Section 14877.1 was amended to terminate the Department of Water Resources’ authority to adopt graywater standards for nonresidential occupancies upon adoption of graywater standards by the CBSC.
AB 1693 (Chapter 145, Statutes of 2010) amended the Health and Safety Code as follows:
- Health and Safety Code Section 18929.1 was amended to modify the existing annual (12-month) building standards code adoption cycle to an 18-month code adoption cycle.
- Health and Safety Code Section 18934.8 was amended for consistency to reflect that emergency amendments made to model codes in an expedited rulemaking process would occur outside of an 18-month code adoption cycle rather than an annual code adoption cycle.
- Health and Safety Code Section 18942 was amended to require the California Building Standards Commission to publish supplements in the intervening period between triennial publications, rather than each intervening year.
AB 2001 (Chapter 246, Statutes of 2010) added Health and Safety Code Section 18949.7 to transfer any responsibility for the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to adopt regulations related to building standards to the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC). The adoption of regulations by the CBSC on behalf of the CDPH requires the concurrence of CDPH.
AB 2762 (Chapter 610, Statutes of 2010) added to and amended the Health and Safety Code as follows:
- Sections 18902, 18921, 18931, 18934.7, 18941.7, and 18949.4 were amended to make technical amendments to update both references and outdated terminology in California Building Standards Law.
- Section 18926 was amended to remove the Department of Industrial Relations from membership on the California Building Standards Commission’s Coordinating Council, and changes the designation from State Director of Health Services to the State Director of Public Health.
- Section 18931.8 was added to authorize the California Building Standards Commission to accept federal funds, gifts, donations, grants, bequests, or other funding for any purpose of this chapter.
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AB 930 (Chapter 399, Statutes of 2011) amended Health and Safety Code Section 18921 to require that at least one member of the Commission to be experienced and knowledgeable in sustainable building, design, construction, and operation.
AB 849 (Chapter 577, Statutes of 2011) amended the Health and Safety Code and Water Code regarding graywater usage as follows:
- Health and Safety Code Section 18941.7 was amended to remove the authority of a city, county, or other local agency to prohibit the use of graywater. A local ordinance or resolution may establish more restrictive graywater building standards than building standards adopted by the Department of Housing and Community Development and published in the California Building Standards Code (Title 24).
- Water Code 14877.3 was amended to remove the authority of a city, county, or other local agency to prohibit the use of graywater. The adoption of graywater building standards by local ordinance or resolution must result in more restrictive building standards than provided in the California Building Standards Code (Title 24).
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AB 296 (Chapter 667, Statutes of 2012) amended the Health and Safety Code and the Public Resources Code to require the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to develop a standard specification for sustainable or cool pavements that can be used to reduce the urban heat island effect index. The bill also required the California Building Standards Commission, in its next triennial code adoption cycle after the development of the standard specification by Caltrans, to consider incorporating that specification as an additional strategy for Heat Island Effect: Hardscape Alternatives in the California Green Building Standards Code.
AB 2030 (Chapter 370, Statutes of 2012) added Health and Safety Code Section 18934.9 to require the California Building Standards Commission to adopt building standards requiring accessible routes to stadium press boxes, with specified exemptions. This mandate required the Commission to adopt this during the next triennial building code cycle that began on or after January 1, 2013.
AB 2697 (Chapter 770, Statutes of 2012) amended Section Health and Safety Code Section 18942 to correctly reference California Code of Regulations, Title 24, Part 2.5 (California Residential Code), and also made several technical changes to state law relating to housing.
SB 1186 (Chapter 383, Statutes of 2012) added Health and Safety Code Section 18944.15 to require that upon the publication date of the 2013 California Building Standards Code, for the purpose of any claim brought under Section 51, 54, 54.1, or 55 of the Civil Code based on an alleged violation of a construction-related accessibility standard, compliance with the building standards for disabled accessibility as provided in Chapter 11B of Part 2 of Title 24 of the 2013 California Building Standards Code shall be authorized as an alternative method of compliance (effective January 1, 2013 through January 1, 2015, and as of that date is repealed).
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