Building Codes

“Criteria used to adopt the new building codes would materially differ from today.”

If the State of California has its way, the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) and the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) may adopt building standards for residential and commercial buildings to be seismically braced should AB 1997 (Nazarian) be signed into law.

CBSC would be authorized to adopt regulations based on a State “functional recovery working group” recommendations for nonresidential occupancies and authorizes HCD to adopt regulations based upon the recommendations resulting from the same working group for all residential occupancies.

The “functional recovery standard” that would apply to all existing buildings is defined as a “set of enforceable building code provisions and regulations that provide specific design and construction requirements intended to result in a building for which post-earthquake structural and nonstructural capacity are maintained or can be restored to support basic intended functions of the building’s pre-earthquake use and occupancy.”

The new building code standards would be required to be adopted by June 30, 2023.

Criteria used to adopt the new building codes would materially differ from today. The new standard that would use “immediate occupancy” (IO) building performance objectives, and as such, would represent a substantial change from the current design philosophy for commercial and residential buildings which prioritizes occupant safety. The new standard would focus on post-hazard functionality with an emphasis on preservation of building function supporting community economic and social objectives. Increasing performance goals for commercial and residential buildings would not be easily achieved. The development of an IO performance objective would require engagement from all levels of our communities and entail reallocation of existing effort, time, and financial resources. On another front, public safety electrical power shutoffs will affect residential rentals pursuant to Assemblymember Freddie Rodriquez’s AB 1936.

Under current law, upon a proclamation of emergency by the President of the United States, Governor or upon the declaration of a local emergency by the executive office of any county, city, or city and county, and for 30 days following the proclamation or declaration of emergency, it is a misdemeanor with specified penalties for a person, contractor, business or other entity to sell or offer to sell certain goods and services for a price that exceeds by 10 percent the price charged by that person immediately prior to the proclamation or declaration of emergency. Assemblymember Rodriquez’s bill would specify that, for a proclamation or declaration of emergency made because of a public safety power shut off or because of an announcement that a public safety power shutoff will occur, the restrictions on increased price apply to housing, health care, medical supplies, emergency cleanup, home heating oil, building materials, transportation, freight and storage services, and gasoline for a period lasting until 72 hours after the restoration of power.

So, how will this affect residential rentals you ask? Imagine how this would affect entering into a residential rental agreement before the applicant takes possession of the dwelling unit. You simply could not increase the rent from the last month’s rent paid that is above 10 percent if you are not careful with the wording of your new lease. Thus, a word to the wise: be careful how you write your lease agreements. It is a given that you will not be able to allow the new tenant to occupy the unit should there be no power to the unit.

Ron may be reached at