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RE: Residential Design Discussions

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Let me play devil's advocate for a moment...

Have you considered that SEAOC may in fact being trying or has tried to
get a change on the Rho issue?  Keep in mind that SEAOC does not directly
create the laws (i.e. the legally adopted code that you are required to
use)...they are only involved in the code development process (which means
that they in theory could have "fixed" or prevent the problem before
California adopted the 1997 UBC).  It is the state government, either
through an executive type order, the legislature, or some commission, that
creates the lawful code (I seem to recall in a post a year or two ago that
some commission is involved or maybe some state government department).
Thus, SEAOC is now likely in the same position that you are
otherwords they must attempt to influence those who can in fact change the
California building code.  This came to me as I remember the discussion of
a year or so ago about how the state of California had elected to stick
with the 1997 UBC code even though SEAOC had recommended going to the 2000
IBC (at least that is what I recall).

Thus, it is entirely possible that SEAOC _HAS_ tried to get the "<=1"
limit place on Rho as outlined by the SEAOC position paper and the 1999
SEAOC Blue Book (as mentioned by Paul).  It is certainly possible that
they have sat on it too, but that seems somewhat unlikely since they are
obviously aware of the problem since there is the position paper and the
1999 Blue Book.

The end result is that it is entirely likely that the real "blame" should
be put on the shoulder's of the state government.  They are only entity
that can really change the state adopted code.  The information that backs
up why the code should be changed appears to be out there, so baring
politics they should be able/willing to change it.

Thus, if you really want the change made, it would seem more productive to
chase after that avenue rether than beating up on SEAOC (not that they may
or may not be other things to beat them up for).  I would suggest that you
may want to contact your representative or other contacts within the state
goverment.  While this approach can be painful and likely a complete waste
of time (I tend to think you are better off just shooting yourself in the
foot a couple of times, but you never know), it is probably a better way
to try to solve the problem.  This can include trying to get SEAOC and/or
other groups of people to contact government officials as well.

My point is that since it appears that SEAOC could not get the government
to use the 2000 IBC, then maybe you are overestimating their ability to
get things changed in the code once the state has adopted it.

Now, the issue of flexible vs. rigid diaphrams is a whole other
feel freee to fire away critism at anyone (although, now a days, if you
really want to get a change made to that, then you need to focus on the
NEHRP process and ASCE 7's Seismic Task committee since they are now the
two groups that "control" the seismic provisions of the model building


Ypsilanti, MI

--------------original message--------------------
To: <seaint(--nospam--at)>
Subject: RE: Residential Design Discussions
From: "Dennis Wish" <dennis.wish(--nospam--at)>
Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2002 19:49:16 -0700

Exactly my point. If the plan checker is doing his job properly, he
should reject the opinion of SEAOC. This doesn't mean that I agree with
him as I would have designed with the same opinions as you. Still, the
law is the law and if we want something different it is the
responsibility of the professional community to change the law. This
means that we have to make a concerted effort as a group of engineers
united who design residential to identify the problems and to institute
SEAOC is a professional corporation that someone reminded me, can not
act outside of the welfare of their members. If they refuse to make the
changes, then I would suggest that those members who design residential
structures leave SEA and force change by hitting them where it hurts -
in the renewal of membership fees. I left SEAOC two years ago and don't
intend to rejoin until change has occurred and they act in the best
interest of their members.
When the issue is related to wood design (residential specifically) then
they should not dilute the "vote" by those who never design wood. They
need to address the issues about residential construction and wood
framing with those who actually design wood structures and who are
active on the Seismology Committee.

Without unity of members there is nothing left but to be railroaded into
a code that is virtually impossible to comply with in a high risk region
and one that is definitely not in the best interest of the homeowner or
the real-estate industry. Wait until they come knocking on your door to
ask to remodel a recently designed home and there are no existing
framing plans or structural calculations to identify the shear walls and
load path based on rotation through the horizontal diaphragms or some
manner of an envelope solution.

Dennis S. Wish, PE
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