Fighting the Good Fight

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A few months ago, we faced legislation that would have mandated apartment owners who have a swimming pool, spa or water features to successfully complete a 14-hour educational course every five years. And if landlords owned residential rental properties with these "water features" in other counties, a separate educational course and test would be required.

If that were not enough for landlords to be put over the edge, this bill would have required managers to do the same thing. Thus, managers would be required to sit through 14 hours of classroom work and take a test in every county where the management company and staff managed a property having a pool, spa or water fountain.

And the story gets worse!

The bill, AB 1726 (Allen), would have required anyone who maintains the pools, spas, or water fountains to complete the proposed series of classes. This also would apply to simple functions such as cleaning skimmer baskets, sweeping the pool or spa deck, or skimming the water surfaces for leaves.

Course work would have included training people to understand calibration of automatic controllers, how water valves work, water chemistry and maintenance of mechanical equipment, main drains, gutters, cleaning the filters, and motors.

The bill was based on two issues: the Center for Disease Control recommended educational classes be given to those who work on swimming pools and spas, and the County of Los Angeles required those who work on pools to successfully attend a multiple-hour course and test.

We kicked into high gear opposing Assembly member Mike Allen's bill.

Our work paid off despite the support of the California Apartment Association that was requesting simple amendments to the measure.

Our list of objections included:

  • The bill was overly burdensome and not necessary. Federal, state and local standards of care are well developed and assiduously followed by landlords and managers. Every county inspects public swimming pools frequently. We maintain log books and assure that everyone maintaining our pools follows the law.
  • Sponsors argued without clear and supporting evidence that we do not follow the laws. Sponsors argued that more education is necessary and will lead to greater compliance and have not offered evidence to support this claim.
  • The bill required that anyone who maintains our pools, including those who clean skimmer baskets, sweep pool decks or skim the pool surfaces for leaves, must complete the pro - posed series of classes. Once again this is incredibly burdensome and not necessary.
  • Even the course work is not realistic. For example, training people to under - stand calibration of automatic controllers or understanding operation of surface skimmers is over the top!
  • The author proposed to provide for reciprocity between counties and exempt anyone who has completed Los Angeles County testing from the bill. This will result in massive confusion. If one completes the course work in Orange County, he or she will not be allowed to work in LA County unless that person successfully completes the test administered by LA County. On the other hand, if one completes the 14-hour Orange County course (once every five years), one can work in Riverside County even though that county may have different course requirements.
  • LA County only requires a person to successfully complete the test once in their lifetime and this will not be permitted in any other county. This will result in burdensome confusion.
  • LA County abandoned mandatory classes last year because they found it was impossible to enforce. We consider the action by LA County to be quite telling of any proposal to require completion of classroom work to understand how to skim leaves from pools.

Our arguments were not the only thing that paid off. We discovered that the sponsors paid the Center for Disease Control for the study that "justified the purpose of the bill." We also found out the sponsor's sole purpose in life is to educate companies and their employees on pool and spa maintenance.

Second, we discovered, as noted in our last bulleted reason for opposing the bill, that the only local government that required classroom work abandoned it last year because it was just too difficult to administer.

In the end, our tenacious efforts, research, reasons for opposition, and member involvement paid off. On May 7, 2012, the author graciously agreed to amend the bill to not apply to us.

So, you may ask... who would be subject to the bill should it be signed into law? Hotels and motels, city and county public swimming pools, and any other "public" pool that collects an entry fee.

So for this year... we were very successful fighting the fight.

In our judgment, however, there is a strong possibility that the sponsors will return in the near term and try once again to require our membership to be subject to the terms of the bill. We will be ready for re-engagement with the swimming pool industry, the educational foundation that sponsored the bill, and the state apartment association that proposed to phase the terms of the bill in slowly.

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