BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    





                             SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
                         Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Chair
                             2015-2016  Regular Session


          SB 582 (Hall)
          Version: April 7, 2015
          Hearing Date: May 12, 2015
          Fiscal: No
          Urgency: No
          TH:jt


                                        SUBJECT
                                           
                                 Electrified Fences

                                      DESCRIPTION  

          This bill would authorize an owner of real property to install  
          and operate an electrified fence on his or her property if the  
          property is not in a residential zone, the fence meets specified  
          requirements, and a local ordinance does not prohibit its  
          installation and operation.
           
                                      BACKGROUND  

          Generally speaking, an electric fence is a fence that has an  
          electrical charge that is designed or placed so that a person or  
          animal coming into contact with the fence receives an electric  
          shock.  It operates by sending a high voltage pulse of  
          electricity at regular intervals through conductive materials in  
          the fence.  Unlike other physical boundaries like barbed wire or  
          razor wire, commercial electric fences do not physically harm  
          things that come into contact with them.  Electric fences do not  
          cause physical harm to animals or people because the length of  
          electric shock delivered by the fence is very brief.  According  
          to one scholar:

            "[e]ven when the voltage is high, when the current flows for  
            only a very short duration we cannot be electrocuted. . . . A  
            large enough current can cause ventricular fibrillation,"  
            during which "the pumping action of the heart ceases and death  
            occurs within minutes unless treated.  In the United States,  
            approximately 1000 deaths per year occur in accidents that  








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            involve cord-connected appliances in kitchens, bathrooms, and  
            other wet locations . . . shock durations longer than 1 second  
            are the most dangerous . . . [e]lectric security fences have  
            taken advantage of this fact by shortening their shock  
            duration to an even shorter duration of about 0.0003 seconds .  
            . . electric fences are safe and do not lead to ventricular  
            fibrillation due to the short 0.0003 second shock duration.   
            (John Webster, Safety of Electric Security Fences, University  
            of Wisconsin - Madison,  [as of May 8, 2015].)

          The sale of electric fences is currently prohibited in  
          California unless the electrical current is limited and  
          regulated by an electrical controller that meets or exceed  
          specified standards.  (Food & Agr. Code Sec. 17152.)

          This bill would further codify that a property owner may install  
          and operate an electrified fence if: (1) the property is not in  
          a residential zone; and (2) the fence meets requirements  
          specified by the International Electrotechnical Commission for  
          electric fence energizers.  This bill would specify that an  
          owner would not be allowed to install and operate a fence where  
          a local ordinance prohibits that installation and operation.

                                CHANGES TO EXISTING LAW
           
           Existing law  provides that no electrified fences shall be  
          offered for sale, sold, installed, or used in this state, or  
          otherwise connected to a source of electrical current, unless  
          the electrical current is limited and regulated by an electrical  
          controller which meets or exceeds the standards or  
          specifications of the National Electrical Code of the National  
          Fire Protection Association, the New Zealand Standards  
          Institute, the Standards Association of Australia, or the  
          Underwriters Laboratories for intermittent type electric fence  
          or electrified fence controllers.  (Food & Agr. Code Sec.  
          17152.)

           Existing law  provides that existing provisions of the Food and  
          Agricultural Code pertaining to electric fences shall not be  
          construed to preclude regulation of electrified fences by cities  
          and counties, including, but not limited to, requiring the  
          installation or use of electrified fences under permit, except  
          that such regulation shall not permit the installation or use of  







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          electrified fences which do not conform to the requirements of  
          this chapter.  (Food & Agr. Code Sec. 17153.)

           This bill  would provide that an owner of real property may  
          install and operate an electrified fence on his or her property  
          consistent with all of the following: (1) the property is not  
          located in a residential zone; and (2) the fence meets the  
          requirements specified by the International Electrotechnical  
          Commission for electric fence energizers in "International  
          Standard 60335-2-76."

           This bill  would further provide that an owner of real property  
          shall not install and operate an electric fence where a local  
          ordinance prohibits that installation and operation.  If a local  
          ordinance allows the installation and operation of an electric  
          fence, the installation and operation of the electric fence  
          shall meet the requirements of the ordinance, as well as the  
          requirements listed above.
          
                                           

                                       COMMENT
           
           1.Stated need for the bill  

          According to the author:

            Many California-based companies that are in the cargo  
            transportation, inventory storage and containment shipping  
            business have, at any given time, millions of dollars worth of  
            products and service-related equipment on their premises.   
            Storage is often held overnight for several days or weeks  
            awaiting transport.  The primary protection of valuable goods  
            and equipment is a security fence, designed to prevent  
            criminal trespass and theft.  The installation of an electric  
            security fence in a jurisdiction is subject to permitting and  
            approval.  Current state law on the use and installation of an  
            electric security fence in non-agricultural zones is vague.   
            There is no consensus among local jurisdictions whether or not  
            they can allow the installation of electric security fences.

            SB 582 provides clear guidelines for the installation of  
            electric security fences, based on international standards  
            [e]nsuring [their] safe and reliable installation in  
            non-residential zones.  Existing international standards  







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            require the installation of a perimeter fence at least six  
            feet tall separating the public from the electrified fence.   
            Additionally, to [e]nsure the safety of the public, warning  
            signs must be visibly posted in at least two languages  
            (English and Spanish) and access for emergency responders must  
            be available.  This bill helps the permitting process in local  
            ordinances by clarifying state law, and regulating the use and  
            installation of an electric security fence in non-residential  
            zones.

           2.Ensuring Safety and Local Control  

          Existing law imposes certain safety standards for the  
          installation and use of electric fences by prohibiting their  
          sale or installation unless the fence's electrical current is  
          limited and regulated by an electrical controller which meets or  
          exceeds the standards or specifications of the National  
          Electrical Code of the National Fire Protection Association, the  
          New Zealand Standards Institute, the Standards Association of  
          Australia, or the Underwriters Laboratories for intermittent  
          type electric fence or electrified fence controllers.  (Food &  
          Agr. Code Sec. 17152.)  This bill would clarify that electric  
          fences may be installed and used in non-agricultural settings  
          provided they also conform to the requirements specified by the  
          International Electrotechnical Commission for electric fence  
          energizers in "International Standard 60335-2-76."

          As in existing law, this bill preserves the authority of local  
          agencies to regulate the installation or use of electric fences  
          within their jurisdictions, provided such regulations meet the  
          safety requirements established in state law.  This bill would  
          specify that local agencies may regulate or prohibit by  
          ordinance the installation and operation of electric fences  
          within their jurisdictions.  However, this bill would prohibit  
          outright the use or operation of electric fences in residential  
          zones.  Allowing local agencies to maintain control over the  
          installation and use of electric fences empowers those  
          jurisdictions to weigh such issues as whether or not electric  
          fence use should be permitted in mixed use zones adjacent to  
          residential areas, or whether they should be permitted in areas  
          near to where children play or other areas with high pedestrian  
          traffic.

          Despite their non-lethality, coming into contact with an  
          electric fence is unpleasant.  In order to protect individuals  







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          from unintentionally coming into contact with an electric fence,  
          International Standard IEC 60335-2-76 contains provisions  
          specifying the size and placement of warning signs.  To ensure  
          that warning signs are appropriately placed on electric fence  
          installations governed by this bill, the author offers the  
          following amendment that would codify part of the IEC's warning  
          sign standard:

             Author's Amendment  :

            On page 2, between lines 7 and 8, insert:  "(3) The fence is  
            identified by prominently placed warning signs that are  
            legible from both sides of the fence.  At a minimum, warning  
            signs shall be placed at each gate and access point, at  
            intervals along the fence not exceeding 10 meters, and  
            adjacent to any other signs relating to chemical,  
            radiological, or biological hazards."


           Support  :  ABF Freight System, Inc.; Copart, Inc.; Old Dominion  
          Freight Line, Inc.; SA Recycling LLC; SAIA LTL Freight; YRC  
          Worldwide, Inc.

           Opposition  :  None Known

                                        HISTORY
           
           Source  :  Electric Guard Dog, Inc.

           Related Pending Legislation  :  None Known

           Prior Legislation  :  None Known

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