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Re: [SEAOC] High prices for codes and standards on CD-ROM

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Frank,
Is it not the true that if you require a specific code for compliance to 
receive a building permit that the building official is to provide that 
information to the public (engineers included)? If the sole issue is to 
recoup the clerical costs of ICBO and other organizations that propose 
these codes, why not simply tax the public on each building project for 
a few dollars that goes for reimbursment of these development costs?
I know this sound absurd, especially if you want to keep government out 
of this (but how can you since you are already dealing with a municipal 
office).
Why must the architectural / engineering community take it upon 
themselves to cover the cost of code development through higher dues in 
professional organizations. Since the purpose of the code is to provide 
a means to design safe structures in an ecconomical fashon, the cost 
should be shared by those that benifit from lower construction costs - 
the building owner. 
Assuming for the minute that Contra Costa County (which I believe is 
where you are from) purchases 40 copies of UBC at $85.00 per copy 
(roughly) and one copy of the CD-Rom version. This would amount to under 
$4,000.00 - an expense that would last for at least four to seven years. 
Hardly enough to recoup the cost of development. If you added $0.50 to 
every $1000.00 of permit fee collected - you would recoup this cost in 
probably less than a month.
Now on the other side. The availability of the code information is 
imparative for the proper design of buildings and should be made 
available as part of the public record. The government doesn't create a 
tax code and then charge you each time you want to reference a section 
necessary to complete your returns. It seems outrageous to develop a 
code and then charge the design professional to use it - rather than 
charge the public for it's development.

Either way, ICBO does not loose money on the venture and probably would 
gain more if they collected money from permits issued rather than 
professionals pockets. I don't consider a code as a "tool" of the trade, 
but rather as a reference which should be available on the shelf of 
either the professional organization (SEAOC) or a library or in the 
SEAOC Web pages. 
Finally, SEAOC never suggested selling anything on CD-Rom. The 
discussion was whether or not to make codes available as reference 
materials on the Web. Realistically this does not even consider ability 
to screen capture and print since it is not cost effective. We are not 
suggesting the ability to download chapters of ICBO materials either. We 
only considered allowing the professional and public the ability to look 
up relevant information on-line. 

Frank, I don't mean to seem argumentative and hope I don't come off 
sounding defensive. As you mentioned, you made the code available to the 
public over the counter by allowing them to search the CD-Rom on your 
network. We intend to do something very similar for the engineering 
community.

Sincerely
Dennis S. Wish PE
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