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Re: California Building Code seismic provisions.

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Charles:

Your comments concerning the politics of code development are again 
correct.  However, I would echo Mark's concerns.

You wrote:
> We felt that zone 2 was an abdication of due concern for
> public expectations in Central's territory for good seismic
> performance. 

The "public" also believes that all licensed engineers are equally 
qualified and that tall buildings are "on rollers".  How far should 
we go in catering to public misinformation?

Regarding code politics:
The fact that a vote is taken and a majority of committee members 
approve an item ("concensus") doesn't mean that said item is correct. 
Where natural forces are concerned, the majority doesn't rule; 
reality rules.  The science of the day, flawed as it may be, is 
generally our best quantification of reality.

In some circles, all change is resisted as either "watering down" or 
"imposing an unnecessary burden."  This ignores that fact that many 
code items have no technical basis.  Of course, as engineers (unlike 
scientists) we must, on occasion, "fix" things that we don't fully 
understand; we can't wait to act until exhaustive, comprehensive 
information is available.  However, we should strive to remember that 
the original work was a shot in the dark; when more complete 
information is available, we should embrace change.  Unfortunately, 
politically motivated pseudo-knowledge is often the impetus for code 
changes (e.g., the multiplicity of R values).  We need to change our 
approach.

Your concerns about a power shift in SEAOC may be well founded.  
However, you are trying to choose between code democracy and code
oligarchy.  I suggest that (to the extent we are humanly possible) we 
reject both; let's apply rational thought as our best surrogate for 
reality.  In some cases, this approach will involve changing the 
public's perceptions, but that is much easier (consider the 
ubiquitous advertising in our society) than changing reality.

-Mike

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Michael Valley                                   E-mail: mtv(--nospam--at)skilling.com
Skilling Ward Magnusson Barkshire Inc.                  Tel:(206)292-1200
1301 Fifth Ave, #3200,  Seattle  WA 98101-2699          Fax:        -1201