BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  SB 183
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          Date of Hearing:   June 17, 2009

                                 Norma Torres, Chair
                   SB 183 (Lowenthal) - As Amended:  June 11, 2009

           SENATE VOTE  :   21-12
          SUMMARY  :  Enacts the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of  
          2009 (Act) requiring all existing dwellings intended for human  
          occupancy that have a fossil fuel burning appliance, a  
          fireplace, or an attached garage to install a carbon monoxide  
          (CO) device.  Specifically,  this bill  :   

          1)Requires a CO device that has been approved by the State Fire  
            Marshall (SFM) to be installed in any existing dwelling  
            intended for human occupancy that has a fossil fuel burning  
            heater or appliance, fireplace, or an attached garage within  
            the earliest applicable timeframe as follows:

             a)   For all existing single-family dwelling units intended  
               for human occupancy on or before January 1, 2011; and 

             b)   For all other dwellings intended for human occupancy on  
               or before July 1, 2012. 

          2)Makes legislative findings regarding the number of deaths due  
            to CO poisoning, the chronic health effects of prolonged  
            exposure to CO, and the benefit of equipping homes with CO  

          3)Defines a "carbon monoxide device" as a device that meets all  
            of the following requirements:

             a)   Detects CO and produces a distinct audible alarm;

             b)   Is battery powered, a plug in device with a battery  
               backup or installed as recommended by Standard 720 of the  
               National Fire Protection Association that is either wired  
               into the alternating current power line of the dwelling  
               unit with a secondary battery backup or connected to a  
               system via a panel;

             c)   Has been tested and certified pursuant to the  
               requirements of the American National Standards Institute  


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               (ANSI) and Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), by a  
               nationally recognized testing laboratory as specified; and,  

             d)   If combined with a smoke detector the device must:

               i)     meet the standards that apply to CO alarms as  
                 described in the Act;

               ii)    meet the standards that apply to smoke detectors;  

               iii)   emit an alarm or voice warning in a manner that  
                 clearly differentiates between a CO alarm and a smoke  
                 detector warning.   
          4)Defines "dwelling unit intended for human occupancy" to  
            include single family dwelling, factory built home, duplex,  
            lodging house, dormitory apartment complex, hotel, motel,  
            condominium, stock cooperate, time-share project or dwelling  
            unit of a multi-family complex.  Exempts a property owned or  
            leased by the state, the Regents of the University of  
            California, or a local government agency. 

          5)Defines "fossil fuel" to mean coal, kerosene, oil, wood, fuel  
            gases, and other petroleum or hydrocarbon product which emit  
            CO as a byproduct of combustion. 

          6)Requires the SFM to develop a certification and  
            decertification process to approve and list CO devices that  
            must include consideration of the effectiveness and  
            reliability, including their propensity to record false  

          7)Permits the SFM to charge an appropriate fee to the  
            manufacturer of a CO device to cover the cost associated with  
            approving and listing CO devices. 

          8)Prohibits the sale or distribution of CO devices in the state  
            unless the device has been approved and listed by the SFM. 

          9)Requires an owner to adhere to the building standards  
            applicable to new construction or manufacturer instructions  
            when determining the number and placement of CO devices in a  


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          10)Provides a violation of this Act is punishable by a maximum  
            fine of $200 for each offense.

          11)Requires a resident of a single-family home to receive a  
            30-day notice to correct a violation of this Act prior to  
            being assessed a fine. 

          12)Allows a local jurisdiction to enact or amend an ordinance  
            requiring CO devices that is consistent with the Act. 

          13)Requires an owner of rental units to test and maintain the CO  
            device in that dwelling unit. 

          14)Allows an owner to enter into a rental unit to test and  
            maintain a CO device. 

          15)Requires an owner of a rental unit to give a tenant  
            twenty-four hours notice, except in an emergency, before  
            entering the unit to install, repair, test or maintain a CO  

          16)Requires a tenant to notify the manager or owner of a rental  
            unit if the CO device does not work.

          17)Provides that if the Department of Housing & Community  
            Development (HCD) in consultation with the SFM determines that  
            there are not enough tested and approved CO devices on the  
            market by the date that the devices are required to be  
            installed in existing dwellings, HCD may suspend enforcement  
            of the Act for six months. 

          18)Requires HCD, if a decision to delay installation of CO  
            devices is made, to post a notice on the Secretary of State's  
            Internet Web Site that describes the findings and decision.
          19)Provides that if the California Building Standards Commission  
            (CBSC) adopts building standards relating to CO devices an  
            owner is not required to install a new device meeting those  
            requirements until the owner makes an application for a permit  
            for alterations requires to a dwelling of more than $1000. 

          20)Revises the statutory transfer disclosure statement that the  
            seller of a manufactured home or a one- to four-unit  
            residential property must provide to a buyer by:


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             a)   Requiring the seller to check off whether or not the  
               property has one or more CO devices;

             b)   Adding a footnote to the form advising buyers that  
               installation of a CO device is not a precondition of sale;  

             c)   Requiring a seller to certify as opposed to check-off on  
               the list of present items, that the property is in  
               compliance with laws requiring smoke detectors and the  
               bracing of water heaters. 

           EXISTING LAW  : 

          1)Requires on and after January 1, 1986, all single-family  
            dwellings and factory-built housing to have operable smoke  
            detectors approved and listed by the SFM (Health & Safety Code  
            Section 13113.8). 

          2)Requires on or after January 1, 1986, a seller of a  
            single-family home to provide a buyer, as soon as practicable  
            prior to the sale, with a written statement indicating that   
            the home is in compliance with the regulations established by  
            the SFM regarding smoke detector installation (Health & Safety  
            Code Section 13113.8). 

          3)California Building Standards Law establishes the California  
            Building Standards Commission (BSC) and the process for  
            adopting state building standards (Health & Safety Code  
            Section 18935 et al.). 

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  Unknown. 

           COMMENTS  :  The California Building Standards Law establishes the  
          California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) and the process  
          for adopting state building standards.  Under this process,  
          relevant state agencies propose amendments to model building  
          codes, which the CBSC must then adopt, modify, or reject.  HCD  
          is the relevant state agency for residential building standards.  

          Building standards are generally prospective in that they only  
          apply to new construction or to existing buildings that undergo  
          alteration or rehabilitation.  There are a few exceptions to  
          this rule however.  Current law requires that all water heaters  


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          in existing residential structures be braced, anchored, or  
          strapped to resist falling or horizontal displacement due to  
          earthquake motion.  Current law also requires that smoke  
          detectors be installed in all existing multifamily residential  
          dwellings and in single family dwellings which are sold.  To  
          comply with the smoke detector statute, an affected residential  
          property owner must install a smoke detector approved and listed  
          by the SFM.  

          With respect to multifamily rental housing, the smoke detector  
          must be operable at the time that a tenant takes possession.   
          The tenant is then responsible for notifying the owner if the  
          smoke detector becomes inoperable.  The owner must correct any  
          reported deficiencies in the smoke detector but is not in  
          violation of the law if he/she has not received notice of any  
          deficiency.  An owner may enter the unit for the purpose of  
          installing, repairing, testing, and maintaining the detector  
          provided that standard notice is provided.  Failure to comply is  
          an infraction punishable by a maximum fine of $200 for each  

          With respect to single-family housing, a seller must provide a  
          buyer as soon as practicable prior to the sale with a written  
          statement indicating that the home is in compliance with the  
          smoke detector statute.  Real estate agents and other agents to  
          the transaction, however, are not required to monitor or ensure  
          compliance with the law.  Moreover, third-party agents to the  
          transaction are not held liable for any error, inaccuracy, or  
          omission relating to the disclosure, except that a real estate  
          agent may be held liable where he/she participates in the making  
          of the disclosure with actual knowledge of the falsity of the  
          disclosure.  The exclusive remedy for failure to comply is an  
          award of actual damages up to $100.  A transfer of title may not  
          be invalidated on the basis of a failure to comply.  

           The purpose of this bill  :  CO is an odorless, colorless, deadly  
          gas.  At lower levels of exposure it can cause health problems  
          such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizzy spells, confusion and  
          irritability.  Later stages of CO poisoning can cause vomiting,  
          loss of consciousness and eventually brain damage or death.  CO  
          is produced by furnaces, common household appliances, vehicles,  
          generators, fireplaces and other systems that are powered by the  
          burning of fuel such as natural gas propane, gasoline, oil and  


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          The California Air Resources Board has determine that 30-40  
          "avoidable deaths" occur just in California each year, on  
          average, due to unintentional CO poisoning.  Additionally, there  
          are 175-700 "avoidable" emergency room visits and  
          hospitalizations in California alone.  In 2001, 25% of the CO  
          poisoning deaths from home-related products were adults 65 years  
          and older.  The Carbon Monoxide Health and Safety Association  
          has determined that the combined cost of CO accidents, lost  
          productivity and lost wages amounts to $8.8 billion a year.    

          Eighteen large states and a number of large cities have passed  
          laws mandating the use of CO devices. The author believes that  
          adopting such a mandate in California will significantly improve  
          public health.  The existing building standards process can  
          apply such a mandate to newly constructed units, but an act of  
          the Legislature is necessary to require installation of CO  
          devices in existing homes. 

          This bill would require that all existing owners of single  
          family homes install a CO device in their home by 2011 and  
          owners of all other dwellings, including apartments, hotels, and  
          dormitories, install a CO device by 2012. 

           How much would this bill cost consumers?  CO devices are  
          available ranging in price from $20 to $90 and can be purchased  
          in hardware stores including Lowe's and Home Depot or on the  
          Internet.  If each of the 13 million household in the state  
          installed one device in their home at the lower range of price  
          scale the cost would be approximately $260 million.  CO devices  
          have an average useful life of four to seven years; therefore,  
          owners would be required to replace the devices at some  
          interval.   As a comparison, on average, smoke detectors must be  
          replaced every 10 years. 
           Update to International Codes  :  In September 2008, the  
          International Code Council (ICC) an entity that adopts and  
          publishes model codes which are the basis for many state  
          building codes including California, added a new section to its  
          International Residential Code requiring builders of newly  
          constructed one- and two-unit dwellings that have fuel-fired  
          appliances or an attached garage to install an approved CO  
          device outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate  
          vicinity of bedrooms.  The new codes adopted by ICC also require  
          the installation of CO devices in existing dwellings that have  
          fuel-fired appliances or attached garages when work requires a  
          building permit.  While the inclusion of this section of a model  


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          code does not create a requirement by itself and does not bind  
          any state to include this section in its codes it indicates that  
          there is some level of consensus within the code community that  
          CO devices protect public safety and are cost-effective and  
          reliable.  HCD plans to adopt this requirement for newly  
          constructed one- and two- unit dwellings in its next code  
          revision cycle and is considering applying it to other  
          residential occupancies as well, such as buildings of three or  
          more units, hotels and dorms. 

           Previous legislation  :  The author carried, SB 1386 (Lowenthal), a  
          similar piece of legislation that was vetoed last year, below is  
          the Governor's veto message: 

              I am returning Senate Bill 1386 without my signature.

              This bill would require that carbon monoxide devices be  
              installed in residences beginning in 2010, thus placing a  
              building standard in statute.  This bill would also require  
              that the Department of Housing and Community Development to  
              develop additional building standards concerning specific  
              installation requirements for these devices.

              While I am certainly concerned with the health and safety of  
              Californians, this bill is an undesirable approach.   
              Building standards should not be statutory.  The Building  
              Standards Commission (BSC) was created to ensure an open  
              public adoption process allowing
              experts to develop standards and periodic updates to the  
              building codes.  Placing building standards in statute  
              rather than regulation circumvents the existing state  
              regulatory adoption process and excludes the input of safety  
              and construction experts.

              Smoke detectors in homes were approved by the BSC after a  
              process of review of the safety, need, and reliability of  
              the product. This process should be utilized for carbon  
              monoxide devices.

              Additionally, product reliability is an issue that has also  
              affected attempts to require carbon monoxide devices through  
              national building codes.  The International Code Council,  
              which writes a national model building code, recently  
              rejected two proposals to require the
              installation of carbon monoxide devices in new residential  


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              dwellings, citing the lack of clear direction for placement  
              of the devices and the propensity for false alarm  
              indications.  A recent test study indicated that alarm  
              technology is not adequately reliable, resulting
              in false alarms or no alarm at all.

          The author has attempted to respond to the Governor's veto by  
          limiting the requirements of this bill to existing dwellings  
          which state agencies that adopt building standards do not have  
          jurisdiction over.  The author will defer to the current  
          building standards process for new construction.  In addition,  
          the author points out that the national standards for CO devices  
          were recently strengthened and that concerns about reliability  
          have largely subsided. 
           Arguments in opposition  : 

          The Apartment Association of California Southern Cities and the  
          Apartment Association of Orange County are concerned that the  
          bill allows owners to install the CO devices using either the  
          building standards applicable to new construction (which HCD  
          plans to submit to CBSC) or the manufacturer's instructions.  
          These two groups believe that the manufacturer's instructions  
          are not required to comport with new construction standards  
          which could result in increased liability and a lack of  
          consistent installation standards.  To address this issue, they  
          are requesting an amendment to specify that the SFM approve the  
          installation instructions in addition to the CO devices.

          The committee may wish to consider, that according to the SFM's  
          office, analysis of the installation instructions will be  
          included in the certification process of CO devices already  
          required by the bill.  In the past, SFM has when certifying  
          other fire safety devices, required that manufacturers revise  
          their instructions to comply with the state's building  

          To clarify this point, the author has agreed to the following  

               Page 17, line 16 insert after the second "device", "and the  
               manufacturer's instructions with respect to number and  

           Double referred  :  The Assembly Committee on Rules referred SB  
          183 to the Committee on Housing and Community Development and  


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          Judiciary.  If SB 183 passes this committee, the bill must be  
          referred to the Committee on Judiciary.


           CA Coalition for Children's Safety and Health (co-sponsor) 
          California State Firefighters' Association (co-sponsor)
          CA Alarm Association 
          Carbon Monoxide Safety and Health Association
          California Industrial Hygiene Council  
          California Retailers Association 
          California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation
          The Home Depot
          National Fire Protection Association 
          Safe Kid USA 
          State Association of Electrical Workers 
          Western Center on Law & Poverty 


           Apartment Association of California Southern Cities
          Apartment Association of Orange County 

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Lisa Engel / H. & C.D. / (916) 319-2085