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Re: Code for Thought

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Fred, thanks, but I'm trying to understand the scenarios you present. 

>From the 2nd para, it appears that the state (the BS Commission?) can at
present adopt code amendments, but only by named occupancies, not all at
once. Alternatively, it appears the state can't do anything but act as a
code-amendment advocate before local legislative bodies, few of which are
deemed to have the enlightenment to give proper consideration to the issues. 

As a remedy we have two prospective options: 

The 4th para presents option no.1, which is to authorize a state agency (the
BS or SS Commission?) to do what apparently can't be done now: adopt code
amendments in seismic matters in all occupancies at once, without seeking
the concurrence of those unenlightened local jurisdictions.  

And the suspected disadvantage of this is that it may lead to widespread
amendments to the model code.  

Well!!  What do they think happens with every new code edition anyway??
Change mania is already out of hand.  But otherwise, if it is bad that a
state agency may adopt and inflict widespread amendments, that suggests
there is no confidence in the agency's own enlightenment or ability to give
proper consideration to the issues. --Or it suggests that enlightened,
well-considered code amendments are bad regardless. 

The 5th para gives option no.2, which would have the legislature adopt some
politically acceptable code amendments and inflict them on both the state
agency and local jurisdictions. The suspected disadvantage here is that the
agency is denied discretion or flexibility... the privilege that is feared
in option no.1 and is its disadvantage.

I wonder just how the legislature became so well enlightened and able to
give these issues proper consideration, where neither the Commission nor
most local jurisdictions were good enough. Assuming the legislature isn't so
well enlightened, who else is left?   The writers of the model code, that's who.

And now we're back at the beginning of a circle, in the hands of the only
"competent" entity, the very one that puts out a model code that we deem
inadequate, but don't want to amend easily, or very much, and nobody has
been identified as enlightened enough do do it right anyway. 

It looks like a Four Stooges comedy to me, and I am asked which Stooge I
want to have poke me in the eye. 

Charles O. Greenlaw, SE    Sacramento CA
Occasional SEAOC code committee stooge, but to no avail.
At 04:22 PM 7/17/98 EDT, you wrote:       (paragraph numbering added)

1.)At yesterday's California Building Standards Commission's Code 2000
>Partnership meeting, the subject of seismic safety in the model building codes
>was again broached. The Partnership is charged with recommending future model
>building codes to the Commission - i.e. the potential replacement(s) for the
>UBC. SEAOC representatives Norm Scheel and Tom Hale raised the concern of
>low/moderate seismic provisions in the 2000 International Building Code (IBC)
>not being consistent with long-accepted west coast practices. Much of the
>state's growth is in regions with moderate and low seismicity comparable to
>parts of the Midwest U.S. 

2.)Unfortunately, the state has no easy way to adopt amendments to the model
>codes that would apply to all occupancies. The only option short of
>legislation is to approach each and every local government city council/board
>of supervisors and ask them to amend the code via local ordinances. But there
>are over 300 such affected entities, so this option is impractical. An example
>of how this system "worked" is how long it took to enact the steel moment
>frame emergency code change in 1994-6. Only the most enlightened, staffed
>cities can give issues like this proper consideration.

3.)For example, the Midwest's U.S. concept of minimally reinforced masonry and
>concrete walls is to put vertical bars at 10 feet on center. Here in
>California, we'd call that unreinforced unless the bar spacing was 4 feet or
>less. Unreinforced concrete and masonry has essentially been banned for the
>past 65 or so years in California. There are many other low/moderate seismic
>provisions in the IBC that are also concerns. 

4.)The participants discussed two options: 1. Legislation to authorize a state
>agency to adopt seismic amendments to the model code that would apply to all
>occupancies. Local building officials and others don't like this option. Its a
>slippery slope that may lead to widespread amendments to the model code. 

5.)2. Sponsor "narrow" legislation that would make IBC's Seismic Design Category
>D (ductile detailing, essentially, for you New Zealanders) the minimum
>statewide.  There seemed to be head-nodding for this option, including from
>those representing local govts, development and building owners. It would
>allow the Building Standards Commission no discretion or flexibility. This
>would still likely be a very difficult bill to get though the gauntlet. A
>benefit/cost study would be helpful, if not necessary for passage of such a

6.)While this may seem to be a problem that will show up far into the future - 4
>years (??) , a solution to the problem could also take years. 

7.)BTW, Norm and Tom did a great job in these last two meetings stating SEAOC's
8.)What do you all think of these two options? Are there other possible options?
>Fred Turner, Staff Structural Engineer
>Ca. Seismic Safety Commission, 1900 K St. #100 Sacramento, CA 95814    
>916-327-1606     916-322-9476 Fax      FredT5(--nospam--at)