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RE: Strange but True (SB 828)

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-----Original Message-----
From:	Neil Moore [SMTP:nmoore(--nospam--at)]
Sent:	Saturday, November 01, 1997 8:41 AM
To:	seaoc(--nospam--at)
Subject:	Re: Strange but True (SB 828)

Robert and Bill:

I agree that this is an excellent idea but not politically 
feasible in some
areas.  We use to do plan checking for a city on the San 
peninsula and ran into trouble because we were enforcing the 
minimum UBC.
We were dismissed because we rejected a civil-surveyor type's 
calculation's and plan submittal for the fifth or sixth time.

If this could become a reality, would there be a way to 
eliminate the
political pressures on building departments by politicians and 
fat cats?

Neil, We have had this discussion before. I don't think that 
those living in a large city (over 100,000 people) can 
comprehend the political pressure that is placed upon the 
building official. In smaller towns the community knows their 
Councilperson. One of mine is a retired architect, another lives 
two doors down. Most of the council as well as the two 
incumbents running for mayor were at a ground breaking ceremony 
for some low income homes we are constructing.
When a developer comes to town to build forty or sixty low 
income homes, the city council begins adding up the financial 
gain this brings to town. School fees, sewer fees, streets and 
sanitation fees and taxes etc. Then when the building official, 
who realizes the weakness of conventional framing codes, 
requires stricter conformance to the UBC, the developer - rather 
than spend the few bucks in hardware - goes to his compatriot on 
the council and threatens to put his project in another city. 
The council meets and brings the BO on the carpet to demand what 
right he has to deviate from minimum code standards. 
Unfortunately, compliance and design is not left to the 
discretion of the building official, but is often swayed by how 
important he thinks his future is as an employee of the city.
The majority of engineers who participate in professional 
organizations are from or close to major cities where the power 
of the BO is greatly increased by the number of supportive 
professionals and politicians. After all, forty homes means very 
little to LA or Riverside, but it represents a large proportion 
of building starts in towns like La Quinta.

If I remember correctly, didn't CEAC and CELSOC merge some years 
back.  If
I also remember correctly, very few S.E.'s opted to join CELSOC. 
 That may
be changed by now but I remember attending a couple of their 
meetings and
they seemed to be dominated by surveyor/land planning types with 
technical emphasis.  Possibly SEAOC should be the organization 
this cause.

How much of our income can we distribute into memberships 
supporting varying issues. This does not stop with SEA's or 
CEL's but must consider ICBO, LGSEA, ACI, MIA and probably more 
than one hundred good causes. Wouldn't it be better to force all 
these organizations to communicate with one another and allow 
each organization to take the lead on issues that they have the 
resources to follow? This way CELSOC need not step on the toes 
of SEAOC but can be a strength of support (and visa versa).
Our industry is far to segregated and we can't expect to 
accomplish more that we are when the issues don't come to light 
except from those who are specific members of these 
Suggestion for those with enthusiasm to proceed. Create a web 
site with links to each organization and a brief synopsis of 
issues and contacts. This way we can reduce the time needed to 
search for the issues and have the resources available to 
contact those who should have our opinions.

Another factor that seems to be possibly lurking in the 
background - for
all areas, not just California.  The insurance industry has been 
building departments.  Does this fortell the possibility that 
home owner
insurance rates will be influenced by the quality of your local 
department?  Does the insurance industry monitor litigation 
brought by
building owner's (large buildings and residences) against 
architects and contractors alike, which can be traced back to 
poor or even
non-existent plan checks and inspections?

Neil Moore, S.E.
who, after 45 years in engineering, may
be looking for a second career

The issue of Insurance red-lining has always been a real 
problem. Forgetting rate fixing by area, consider that the 
insurance industry can be our strongest lobbyist with the 
ability to change the problems you indicated in your first two 
Low income housing can be a big plus for a city - especially a 
Charter city that gets additional funds from the state depending 
upon how many services and how much housing is provided for low 
income and elderly.  However, affordable housing can be easily 
offset by high insurance rates which may prevent many low income 
families from purchasing those homes. Thus the city suffers from 
lack of funding and the sale of homes drops. This is easily 
offset by stiffer construction and design rules that may raise 
the cost of the home by less than 5%. In low income projects 
which are subsidized by the city (the cities generally cover up 
to 50% of the mortgage for 30 years and forgives the balance if 
the same owner completes his mortgage amount).
The savings in insurance rates can be significant. In fact, many 
engineers advocate reduced insurance coverage with engineered 
It has been my understanding that the Insurance companies look 
for quality of construction with an area and look at how the 
issues of conventional framing are handled by the local 

Dennis Wish PE