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Re: SEAOC $10.00 dues increases objection

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In the past, I have often (maybe not often enough?) voiced my opinion about
the (lack of) effectiveness of the Structural Engineers Association of
California particularly with regards to the services it provides to the
PROFESSIONALS instead of just serving the profession. Also, I want to
preface my opinion on this current subject with my viewpoint on "value".
I'm not sure if $10 is too much to pay for goods or services or if $1,000
is too little. It depends on what one gets in return for this payment.

My (current) opinion on this subject is valid for either issue of the
$10/yr raise for the state office or the $200/yr for the total. I would be
the first one to admit that $200 would be too little if SEAOC actually did
something for me. The most prevelant subject that comes to mind is the
issue of eliminating those who are clearly unqualified to practice
structural engineering although allowed to do so by BORPELS. I have seen
little if any benefit that the state office has provided to me personally
which is the only position I am qualified to represent. So, I not only feel
that a $10/yr increase is a waste of money but also the entire cost of the
office is a waste of money.

O.K., the architect/civil-civil issue may be offbase (to those who do not
have to compete with them) and maybe there are those who would like an
opinion of technical services SEAOC provides. Fine. I just attended a
seminar put on by SEAOSC on the wood provisions of the 1997 UBC. For those
who missed it, don't be upset. You might want to order the notes (1997 NDS
included), but the seminar itself wasn't that special. The technical
portion was O.K. except I had a hard time distinguishing between the new
code provisions and the presenter's personal approach to lateral design.
The technical session lasted about two hours followed by about an hour and
a half of commercials consisting of a presentation by Simpson StrongTie and
two others with proprietary holddown products. I could have done without
the commercials and had more technical info instead. I hope SEAOSC charged
these three vendors for an opportunity to make their sales pitches. So, for
a total time of four hours for the seminar and two and a half hours for the
commute, I got a glimpse at the 1997 lateral design provisions (I think).

During the technical session, a topic came up which, based on how SEAOSC
responded, really has accelerated my opinion of this organization. The
example that was used by the presenter was a two story townhome with two
steel cantilevered "flag pole", "inverted pendulum" type columns at the
garage. The point that the presenter made was that, based on the 1997 code
provisions, the entire lateral design of the entire structure (both
stories) in the transverse direction (perpendicular to the garage opening)
had to be based on the R value of the "cantilevered columns" which is
roughly 2.5 times that for plywood shear walls. The presenter stated his
opinion that he felt this was rediculous since the shear walls at the other
end of the building would not "see" the effects of the cantilevered
columns. When asked by members of the audience if there was anything SEAOC
could do about this code provision, the presenter essentially shrugged his
shoulders and said something to the effect that an attempt would be made
for the IBC 2000 code, but the 1997 UBC was already in print. Another
member of the audience (apparently a building official) stated that, if
SEAOC would publish a position paper, his city could adopt an amendment
allowing for a more rational design. Although both the president of SEAOSC
as well as the chairperson for the Code Committee were present, there was
ABSOLUTELY no response. Either person could had offered something as simple
as "we'll have the Code Committee look at it and publish a response in an
upcoming newsletter". BUT NOTHING! This was an issue that apparently had
unanamous response by not only the presenter but by at least the vocal
portion of the 200+/- audience.

All of this non-action is at the brink of the IBC 2000 where it is possible
there will no longer be the same interest in the Blue Book as it has
enjoyed in the past. We should soon start treating SEAOC for what it
apparently is: a social club for those who don't have a life outside of
structural engineering. I for one have no desire to support such an
organization and certainly have no motivation to support a dues increase.

Other than that, I don't have an opinion.

Bill Allen

> From: Dennis S. Wish <wish(--nospam--at)>
> To: seaoc(--nospam--at)
> Subject: RE: SEAOC $10.00 dues increases objection
> Date: Sunday, February 22, 1998 8:12 PM
> Tom,
> I vote to dissolve the state chapter and return to independent chapters.
> experiences with the state Computer Applications Committee has been
> horrendous and was the main reason that I stopped writing SEAOC Online
> participating in the CAC. Please understand that it was not the committee
> members that I had complaints with -for the most part I found those
> that worked on the CAC to be most dedicated and productive with respect
> this server and the many unseen advancements accomplished by this
> However, I have never run into so much "red-tape", confusion and
> BS in my life. What was intended to simplify our goals in the evolution
> the Internet List and SEAOC Online created so many obstacles beginning
> Alan Goldsteins desire to see the list shut down because of his concern
> the liability to SEAOC, to censorship of SEAOC Online by others outside
> CAC committee. The final straw was when I showed up at the airport with a
> reservation to make the committee meeting in Oakland only to find that
> approval from the board was reneged after it was approved and I was never
> notified.
> Rather than support additional overhead to try and organize four state
> chapters at the expense of the members, I feel that the boards of each
> chapter should work at a less expensive means to create uniform
> representation through the state. We have the tools to do this much
> than to try and maintain a state office.
> For those that are not aware of this, there has been an unresolved debate
> to the distribution of profits from the SEAOC Web site. Now I use the
> SEAOC simply to mean our current agreement although the server is owned
> maintained by SEAOSC.
> If you or any of the other board members can provide convincing evidence
> to why it is necessary to charge approximately 5000 state members
> a year more in order to physically unify four state chapters, I might
> reconsider my argument. This amounts to over $375,000.00 per year not
> counting proceeds earned from publications and state supported seminars
> (which I understand has not been very profitable). Has anyone really
> questioned just where seaoc is investing $375,000.00 per year?
> For those outside California, this may sound like another civil war.
> consider for the moment that Calfornia is approximately 1,200 miles from
> Mexico to Oregon. With four active chapters, there is no doubt, a great
> degree of politics to be played between chapters.
> I don't believe the solution is to resolve past problems and power
> between chapters by physically unifing control for a cost that, in my
> can not be justified to the members pockets that it comes from.
> Personally, if it is possible, I would want to only support my local
> and refuse to pay the additional for the state.
> One more thing. The state board, from my understanding is simply a
> representation from each chapters board of directors - with state
> rotating around each section per year. Why is it not possible for a state
> board to exist without the cost of supporting a state office - since this
> what we have done in the past.
> Again, show me the benifits of a state office, allow this list (and all
> members alike) to debate alternatives methods. If the consensus is that
> cost to support a state office is justified, I'll back it. Until then I
> to disolve it based upon my personal experiences.
> Sincerely,
> Dennis Wish PE
> former editor and founder of SEAOC Online
> Dennis Wish PE