BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          Date of Hearing:  May 11, 2016


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                               Lorena Gonzalez, Chair


          AB  
          2873 (Thurmond) - As Amended April 21, 2016


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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  YesReimbursable:   
          Yes


          SUMMARY:


          This bill requires local governments to increase the number of  
          building officials who are certified access specialists (CASps)  
          in order to improve compliance with state and federal  
          construction-related disability standards. Specifically, this  
          bill: 


          1)Requires that, as of January 1, 2018, all building inspectors  
            employed or retained by a local agency who conduct permitting  
            and plan check services to review for compliance with state  
            construction-related accessibility standards, must be CASps.








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          2)Increases, from $1 to $4, the fee on business licenses that is  
            used to fund the CASp Program, and eliminates the January 1,  
            2018 sunset on the current fee.


          3)Provides that instead of retaining 70% of the fee revenue  
            collected per (2) and sending 30% to the Division of the State  
            Architect (DSA), the local government would keep 90% of the  
            revenue and remit 10% to DSA. 


          4)Requires each local government to place its fee revenue, less  
            up to 5% for administrative costs, into a CASp Certification  
            and Training Fund. Highest priority for use of these funds is  
            to be given for training and retention of certified access  
            specialists. The fund can also be used to facilitate  
            compliance with construction-related accessibility  
            requirements, though the bill does not specify what activities  
            this would encompass.


          FISCAL EFFECT:


          Revenue from the current fee is about $2.1 million annually, of  
          which $620,000 goes to DSA and $1.5 million goes to local  
          jurisdictions. Revenues from the increased fee would total about  
          $8.25 million annually, of which $825,000 would go to DSA and  
          $7.4 million would go to locals.


          DSA will receive increased revenue of $205,000 in 2017 and 2018,  
          and continue to receive ongoing revenue of $825,000 annually  
          beyond the current sunset date on the fee authority. These  
          additional revenues should cover any increase in DSA costs to,  
          for example, offer more CASp examination opportunities. With an  
          expected increase in local building officials seeking to become  








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          CASps, DSA will receive examination and licensing revenues to  
          cover its additional administrative costs.


          According to DGS, about 550 local jurisdictions employ building  
          inspectors. Current law requires a local agency to employ a  
          "sufficient number of building inspectors who are certified  
          access specialists" and require that an agency employs or  
          retains two or more CASps, at least one-half of the CASps must  
          be building inspectors. It is unknown how many additional  
          building inspectors would need to become CASps under this bill.  
          According to DGS, the average per-candidate cost to become a  
          CASp is $4,571, which takes into account that most candidates  
          must take the exam multiple times. The examination fee (for the  
          two-part exam) is either $1,200 or $1,600 depending on if the  
          candidate has existing professional licensure. In addition, the  
          certification must be renewed every three years at a cost of  
          $500, plus expense for 15 mandatory continuing education units  
          costing $225 to $750.


          Given the above average certification costs, the annual revenue  
          to local of $7.4 million would cover about 1,600 certifications.  
          Of course, since the revenue is to be collected and retained by  
          each jurisdiction, it is unknown how well revenues and costs  
          will match at the local level. It is also unclear for what  
          specific purposes this level of revenue would be needed on an  
          ongoing basis.


          COMMENTS:


          1)Background/Purpose.  Since 1992, public accommodations in  
            California have been required to comply with not only the  
            Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but also with the  
            state's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which incorporates the ADA  
            into its provisions and makes a violation of the ADA  
            punishable as a violation of Unruh. To increase compliance  








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            with the ADA, SB 262 (Kuehl), Chapter 872, Statutes of 2003  
            established the CASp program to meet the public's need for  
            experienced, trained, and tested individuals who can inspect  
            buildings and sites for compliance with applicable state and  
            federal construction-related accessibility standards.  While a  
            number of subsequent bills have expanded the use and effect of  
            CASp inspections, no significant new financial resources have  
            been provided to small businesses or to the CASp program, in  
            order to bring businesses into compliance with the law.


            This bill, sponsored by Disability Access California, is  
            intended to increase the number of local building officials  
            who are trained and certified as access specialists, and  
            provides additional resources to support this effort.


          2)Concern. The League of California Cities writes, "the  
            CASp-certification process remains expensive and the exam  
            extremely difficult, with a very low passage rate even among  
            the experienced inspectors. Statewide, there are only about  
            575 CASps, many of whom are consultants specializing in this  
            area. Building inspectors report that the current exam often  
            covers areas that have little to do with their day-to-day work  
            of enforcing the state building code, including accessibility  
            requirements. Without adjustments by the State Architect to  
            the exam itself, it is unrealistic to expect cities to be  
            compliant with the bill's requirements by January 2018. The  
            bill would also be particularly problematic for smaller cities  
            that employ or retain a handful of building inspectors." The  
            league also notes that, "While the increase in the cost of  
            business fees and the percentage retained by a local agency  
            would assist with the cost of the certification process, not  
            all jurisdictions collect business license fees."



          Analysis Prepared by:Chuck Nicol / APPR. / (916)  
          319-2081








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