State Legislation Affecting You

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State legislation affecting our members' businesses continues at a rapid pace. A few bills affecting our members' businesses are highlighted in this month's article.

SB 1394 (Lowenthal) Smoke Detector Alarm Retrofit Requirement

Background: Over 20 years ago, the legislature passed one of the first statewide retrofit bills requiring all residential property owners (owner occupied homes and residential rental property owners) to install one smoke alarm per dwelling. Landlords complied. Then, two years ago, Senator Lowenthal was successful in carrying a bill through the Legislature requiring qual i fied dwellings to be equipped with a carbon monoxide device per floor. We worked the bill very hard and as a result reached agreement with the author to amend the bill to require tenants to advise us when a device is inoperable and gave landlords a delayed implementation of July 2013 to comply.

Now, Senator Lowenthal is back with a new retrofit mandate. This time, under SB 1394, he initially sought to require landlords to add more smoke alarms per dwelling, check and comply with new building codes governing smoke alarms prior to every new tenancy, and to upgrade each device to a tamper-proof, ten-year battery type.

Working the bill: In addition to the efforts of our members meeting with their legislators during the April 25, 2012, Annual Legislative Day to garner opposi tion to the bill, AACSC drafted letters and met with key legislators when the bill was in Committee. Additionally, we were the lead off witness opposing the measure at the Committee hearing, highlighting the problems and hardships the bill would create if passed.

Amendments: As a result of the strong lobbying efforts, Senator Lowenthal asked AACSC to work on amendments. We submitted the following amend ments:

  • No requirement to replace existing, oper able alarms. Landlords will, however, be required to add alarms to meet the current building code standards.
  • Instead of checking the building code before every new tenancy, the bill would set a point in time at which landlords will have to comply. Tentatively, the date is January 2016.
  • The bill would require smoke alarm manu facturers to include instructions on place ment and location consistent with current building code standards.

AB 1726 (Allen) Swimming Pools: Mandate for Education and Testing for Anyone Maintaining a "Public Pool or Spa" Dies in the Assembly

When Assemblymember Allen's bill was introduced, it proposed to require every person maintaining a "public swimming pool" (including pools in apartment developments) to complete a 14-hour class once every five years. The class would have included training in water chemistry and operation and maintenance of all mechanical systems including calibration of automatic controllers. Each county would approve the classes. The County of Los Angeles would be exempted from the provisions of the bill.

Among our reasons to oppose the measure:

  • 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 logbooks 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 pools and decks, and skim the pool surfaces for leaves must complete the proposed series of classes. Once again this would have been an incredibly burdensome mandate.
  • Even the course work was not realistic. For example, training people to understand calibration of automatic controllers or understanding operation of surface skimmers was 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 would 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 could work in Riverside County even though that county may have different course requirements.
  • LA County only required a person to successfully complete the test once in their lifetime and this will not be permitted in any other county.
  • LA County abandoned mandatory classes last year because they found it was impossible to enforce. We considered 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.

It was during the testimony in the Assembly Health Committee that the author agreed to amend the bill to exempt our industry from the requirements.

Weeks later, when the bill was heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, however, the measure only received five AYE votes (nine votes were needed to send it "out of committee").

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