To Recuse or Not To Recuse? That was the Question.

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With help from Gwynne Pugh, FAIA, the answer was good for architects and our local communities.

On April 29, 2015, the Senate Committee on Governance & Finance passed the AIACC-sponsored legislation SB 704, authored by Senator Ted Gaines from El Dorado Hills.  This bill makes it easier for owners of architectural firms and other businesses to serve their communities as appointed volunteers on local boards and commissions, such as design review boards and planning commissions.

Current law has forced several architects to resign their appointed positions to these bodies because of a strict conflict of interest law.  That law says that an appointed volunteer cannot do business with the local government that appointed him or her.  So, if a city appoints an architect who is an owner of a firm to the planning commission, that architect’s firm is not eligible to compete for any projects carried out by the city.

SB 704 allows an owner of an architectural firm to serve as an appointed volunteer on a local government body and to have a contract to perform services to that city so long as the architect recuses him or herself if that project comes before the board or commission on which the architect serves.

Pugh, traveled to Sacramento from southern California to testify on the need for SB 704.  Pugh was able to speak convincingly and with strong credibility on the value architects provide their communities through service on planning commissions and design review boards.  He is a past President of the League of California Cities Planning and Community Development Department and a past Chair of the Santa Monica Planning Commission, a position he had to resign from due to the type of conflict SB 704 addresses.

SB 704 has several more hearings and votes before it can be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

We would like to hear your story if you also were forced to resign from a local government board or commission because of this conflict of interest law.  Our effort to show legislators that SB 704 is a good change to state law continues, and your stories can help.

Please contact our Director of Legislative Affairs Mark Christian, Hon. AIACC, with your story or if you have any questions.  Mark can be reached at or 916-642-1708.




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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