The staffing practices Ben describes for the City of San Jose are not
typical of many smaller jurisdictions in Northern California. In many of
those, the Chief Building Official/Plan Reviewer/Building Inspector may be a
former contractor or inspector with little if any knowledge of the
engineering principles involved in seismic design. Hopefully, most at least
have some ICBO certifications but that doesn't replace the seismic
engineering background that San Jose plan review staff is fortunate to have.
On more complex projects the smaller jurisdictions sometimes go out to firms
specializing in plan checking. I've found a wide variety of capability for
these outside plan check firms, some very good, some terrible, in their
understanding of seismic design.
I concur with Frank McClure's comment that education of the "Gatekeepers"
(i.e., code enforcement personnel) could generate significant benefits for a
relatively small investment. Another area that should be looked at is
adding some basic understanding of seismic construction to the requirements
for obtaining a general contractors license and requiring them to pass a
test showing their understanding of the concepts. This would be a much more
Bill Cain, SE
From: Yousefi, Ben [SMTP:Ben.Yousefi(--nospam--at)ci.sj.ca.us]
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 1999 12:36 PM
Subject: RE: Strange stuff that I don't understand.
In San Jose, we have a staff of approximately 20 engineers in the
department, all of whom are degreed and licensed. The majority have
3 have PHD's and 9 are SE's. This is typical in the major cities in
California such as Los Angeles and San Diego.