BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  SB 183
                                                                  Page  1

          SB 183 (Alan Lowenthal)
          As Amended  September 4, 2009
          Majority vote 

           SENATE VOTE  :21-12  
           HOUSING      6-0                JUDICIARY      7-3              
          |Ayes:|Torres, Harkey, Eng,      |Ayes:|Feuer, Brownley, Evans,   |
          |     |Fletcher, Ma, Saldana,    |     |Jones, Krekorian, Lieu,   |
          |     |                          |     |Monning                   |
          |     |                          |Nays:|Tran, Knight, Silva       |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
          APPROPRIATIONS      13-3                                        
          |Ayes:|De Leon, Nielsen,         |     |                          |
          |     |Ammiano,                  |     |                          |
          |     |Charles Calderon, Coto,   |     |                          |
          |     |Davis, Fuentes, Hall,     |     |                          |
          |     |Harkey, Miller, Skinner,  |     |                          |
          |     |Solorio, Torlakson        |     |                          |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
          |Nays:|Duvall, John A. Perez,    |     |                          |
          |     |Audra Strickland          |     |                          |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
           SUMMARY  :  Enacts the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of  
          2009 (Act) requiring all existing dwellings, completed or  
          occupied by January 1, 2010,  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  


                                                                  SB 183
                                                                  Page  2

            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  
               (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  


                                                                  SB 183
                                                                  Page  3

            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)Requires the certification and decertification process of CO  
            devices to include review of the manufacturer's instructions  
            to insure that they are consistent with building standards for  
            new construction regarding the number and placement of CO  

          8)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. 

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

          10)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  

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

          12)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. 

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


                                                                  SB 183
                                                                  Page  4

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

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

          16)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  

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

          18)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. 

          19)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.

          20)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 $1,000. 

          21)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:

             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  


                                                                  SB 183
                                                                  Page  5

               the list of present items, that the property is in  
               compliance with laws requiring smoke detectors and the  
               bracing of water heaters. 

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  One time cost of $10,000 to the SFM to develop a  
          certification and decertification process for carbon monoxide  

           COMMENTS  :  The California Building Standards Law establishes the  
          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  
          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  


                                                                  SB 183
                                                                  Page  6

          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  

          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  


                                                                  SB 183
                                                                  Page  7

          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  
          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, a similar  
          piece of legislation that was vetoed last year.  Below is the  
          Governor's veto message: 

              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  


                                                                  SB 183
                                                                  Page  8

              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 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. 

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

                                                                FN: 0002900


                                                                  SB 183
                                                                  Page  9