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Re: Future of CA's Field Act - Seismic Safety for Public Schools

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In a message dated 98-07-10 15:15:36 EDT, you write:

<< Thanks Fred, this is valuable information.  By outward appearences, the
 of the Field Act is not yet safe.  Maybe, there needs to be more work done
 DSA to help them update (not water down) their standards.  Presonally, I
 that DSA has done a good job in developing standards for public schools.  I
 believe that they should remain responsible for this occupancy.  That is not
 say that I do not think local governments are capable of plan checking and
 inspecting schools, many are.  But to have one agency responsible statewide
 such an important occupancy seems to make sense to me.
 Again, thanks Fred for the update.

I would agree with Rick about what DSA has accomplished and that one statewide
agency should be responsible.  I would be concerned about turning the plan
check services and inforcement over to the local government agencies.  

There are too many politics which go on at the local level.  You are turning
the enforcement over to the local building official, who must cope with the
financial and political pressure from the local city council, various
development companies and construction industries only concerned about being
business friendly and the bottom line.  Basically the same forces trying to
change the Field Act.  Most projects usually have tight bugets, and when
things start to go wrong, there is always a strong urgency to cut costs and
have acceptance of construction which might otherwise not be accepted.

With the strong movement to cut government costs, the plan check review is
likely not to get the review it has typically recieved from DSA.  Currently
DSA requires a S.E. to perform the structural plan check.  I believe local
building officals will fight this requirement, since some building departments
do not have S.E.'s on staff.

Probably the most important facit of DSA projects is the fact that there is a
DSA inspector present during all construction.  I imagine this is one area
that would be cut back, after some political pressure, in order to reduce
costs.  Without this continuous inspection, there will be substancially more
poor workmanship.  How often do contractors bid the drawings the way they want
to build the project, instead of whats shown on the drawings, intending to get
the architect and engineer to accept the changes.  Also, when was the last
time you heard that the subcontractor came in over the weekend and worked
without inspection as required by the plans.  

In my experience, it is difficult enough to provide structural observation on
private sector jobs unless the building offical specifically requires
structural observation forms be submitted to the building department as work
progresses.  We now have architects requesting on new job proposals that
structural observation be included in our fixed fee, which doesn't work since
you have no control over the contractor competency that the owner selects.

People seem to quickly forget the damage that can occur from an earthquake as
time passes, especially if proposed code changes will personly affect the
individuals pocketbook.  I think it would be shortsighted at this time to
allow organizations, other than DSA ,to adminster plancheck and jobsite
inspection for schools in order to save money.  DSA has a difficult enough
time as it is enforcing the regulations, let alone if other agencies were to
take over the responsibilities.

Michael Cochran S.E.