Holding Pattern

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The controversial bill which would have allowed the California Energy Commission to enforce energy and water efficiency standards for the built environment, and imposes penalties of $2,500 per violation of those standards, has been put on hold by the author, Assembly Member Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara). On May 28, the AIA California Council wrote about this bill, AB 834.

The AIACC opposed AB 834, and sought to have it amended to exempt projects for which a building permit was issued (including plan check and construction inspection). In other words, the AIACC thought the bill should have focused on creating another incentive, through potential Energy Commission penalties, against illegal construction, but should not have been applied to legally constructed projects.

Prior to the bill being put on hold by the author, the AIACC reached out to the author’s office seeking a meeting between the author and several constituent architects from the AIA Santa Barbara and AIA Ventura County chapters. Those AIA Members and the AIACC held a conference call on Friday to discuss the bill and the arguments against it. The biggest concern with the bill for those AIA Members on the call, was the unfair and unreasonable uncertainty AB 834 would have caused those who followed the rules. It would have exposed architects, whose design was reviewed and approved by a building department, to penalties from a different public entity, the California Energy Commission, simply because the Energy Commission disagreed with the approval by the building department. Worse, this could have happened many years after the project was completed.

Additionally, the AIACC was about to ask AIA Members who are constituents of the State Senators on the Senate Energy Committee, where AB 834 was scheduled to be heard, to write letters urging a “No” vote.

The author, Assembly Member Williams, still wants to address the issue of construction not complying with the energy and water efficiency standards in the building code, and would like to revive his AB 834 next year, in a different form. The AIACC and the AIA Members who sought to meet with Assembly Member Williams have expressed our willingness to meet with Assembly Member Williams to develop a bill that the architectural profession can support.

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Mark Christian, Hon. AIACC

Mark Christian, Hon. AIACC, is the Director of Legislative Affairs for the AIA California Council, a position he has held since 1999. In this position, Mark is responsible for monitoring the CA State Legislature, identifying bills of interest to the profession, developing and implementing strategies for the positive outcome of legislation of interest to the profession, and representing the profession before the legislature. Prior to joining the AIACC, Mark worked for the State Assembly for nine years in several capacities, including as a policy consultant on several significant environmental laws. He holds a B.A. in Economics from the California State University, Sacramento.

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