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[SEAOC] Reducing costs of codes through electronic publishing

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Ray Pixley-

You can relax - my reaction to your reply was merriment, not upset.  You
exhibit an attitude typical of some folks who are enthralled with the
Net, and think the world should completely change the way work is
done so as to fit in with the enlightened way you are now working.  You
need to do a reality check.  Most people don't have the facilities, the
inclination, or the environment to make the Net an integral part of
their work routine.

Let me give you an example of how your proposal to put ICBO's annual
code change documents on an FTP site just doesn't mesh with how people
actually work. The joint code committee of the Peninsula and East Bay
ICBO Chapters met weekly in Janauary to develop chapter positions on the
proposed changes for our representatives to make at the hearings in Sparks.
About two dozen of us from all over the Bay Area met in a conference
room at a local city hall.  We studied the 350+ proposed changes
beforehand, paying particular attention to the dozen or so that each
particpant had been assigned to study in depth and report on at the
meetings.  We all brought our hardcopies of the changes to the meetings,
along with copies of the codes and other standards that are proposed to
be adopted by reference.  There was much flipping back and forth
between pages and between documents during the meetings.  Even if each
participant had access to a monitor, there is no way that anyone would
tolerate the structured access of the electronic publishing paradigm in
lieu of the truly rapid random access possible with printed media.  And
if you suggest printing all the stuff locally, then I rest my case.
Besides, the local building department didn't appear to have more than 
a handful of PCs, and certainly didn't have the power or wiring in the
conference room to hook them up.

Each ICBO jurisdictional membership gets all the code change mailings,
and is encouraged to participate in the process.  Many do.  In 
California, over half of all builidng departments have a staff count of
less than six.  For the ICBO membership at large, the figure is likely
around three-fourths.  Many are two and three person shops.  When the
resource limitations of these small departments, in terms of both 
budgets and the backgrounds of staff, are considered, it is unrealisitc
to expect that making these documents available only in electronic form
could be sufficient, now or in the foreseeable future.

By the way, in the work environment of many building officials, engineers and
engineering issues are barely on the radar screen.  We have a multitude
of worries and demands for our attention, such as the constant threats of the 
Attorney General and the disabled community to sue over levels of enforcement 
of accessibility regs, the CEC auditing us on how well we enforce energy
conservation regs, the need to comply with the myriad of State statues such 
as risk management prevention plans for hazardous materials, the constant
pressures by mayors, councilmembers and city managers to give more
attention and resources to complaints of activist neighbors and tenants
to housing, zoning and health code violations, etc, etc.  You should broaden
your world beyond that seen through an engineering prism.  When you do, you 
will improve your chances to leave your self-described "little people" 
status.

Frank Lew


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