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RE: IBC, Rho Factors, 10/lw, and Influence of FEMA/NEHRP Folks

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You stated: "Apparently this group was successful in the recent code
hearings, and it will remain as a penalty for other than wood frame
construction."  Are you confirming that 10/Lw need not exceed 1.0 in wood
framed structures with wood diaphragms as was the opinion of the SEAOC Blue
Book committee?

As far as power of individuals to control the design methodology, I have a
couple of comments.

1. I tend to believe that the individual engineer should have the power to
design as he or she sees fit - i.e.., engineering judgment. To purposely
restrict values in a code so as to prevent abuse is, in itself, abuse and
restraint of an engineers right to follow his or her professional judgment.
Abuse of engineering practice is dealt with in disciplinary actions which
generally lead to the discovery of an engineers lack of fundamentals. I
believe this to be the exception rather than the rule.

Design economics occurs more in commercial / industrial structures than in
residential design. Methodologies lend themselves to the most economic
design such as ultimate strength methods verses ASD design. The purpose is
to push as close to the limits of performance in order to design the most
economical sections and connections. This is where I believe that we find
most damaged structures that are not the product of incompetence.

Therefore, I strongly believe that the policy makers overstep their
authority when they attempt to impose restrictions on all methods and types
of structures in order to protect against the few who abuse or incompetently
design. This imposed restriction further limits an engineers ability to
design creatively.

In defense of the policy maker, there are few practicing professionals who
take the time or effort to participate if only to protect against
inappropriate codes. Therefore, those who do volunteer the time and efforts
find the road unobstructed and open to whatever strong opinion motivates
them. This is the fault of those who sit quietly while policy is made around

We are struggling right now to create a multi-tiered wood committee on the
Internet. The purpose is to have a general wood discussion which is filtered
to a private list whose purpose is to assimilate the information and act as
representatives of the general professional committee to the Seismology and
Code committee. I feel that there is opposition from each side as I have
been agreed with by members of the committee buy the process of establishing
a public list has yet to become a reality.

In conclusion, what I believe is really needed is to have the flood gates
opened and to let information and opinion flow in both directions until the
pipes are full and equilibrium between the thousands of engineers and their
appropriate representation occurs.

Until then, each side will be open to criticism and only those willing to
participate in the code making cycle will call the shots - with or without
the approval of the general engineering community.

Dennis S. Wish PE