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August 30, 2004

AB 3010 (Laird) Community Colleges: Building Approval Process

August 30, 2004

To: Chief Executive Officers
Chief Business Officers
Facilities Planners
Other Interested Parties
From: Frederick E. Harris, Assistant Vice Chancellor College Finance & Facilities Planning
Subject: Letters to the Governor in Support of AB 3010, Laird would be appreciated

Attached please find a copy of a letter from Chancellor Drummond to Governor Schwarzenegger requesting his signature of AB 3010, Laird. This bill would revise the process whereby the State Architect approves Community College building plans. Also enclosed is a Fact Sheet explaining the bill.

Please take the time no later than this week to send a similar letter to the Governor to help ensure he signs the bill. Your assistance in this matter is essential and most appreciated.

Letter from Chancellor Drummond

AB 3010 (Laird)
Building Approval Process
(As amended July 19, 2004)ed to be amended)

This bill would revise the process whereby the State Architect approves Community College building plans.

With the assistance of the author’s office, the Community Colleges, the Office of the State Architect, the Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG, the state engineers’ union), and the Seismic Safety Commission have worked cooperatively to develop this new process.

Under existing law, the California Uniform Building Code (UBC) establishes standards for the construction of buildings in California. The seismic requirements in the UBC are imposed under the police powers of the state in order to protect life and safety of those in and near the building in the event of a major earthquake. The life and safety provisions are intended to allow people to exit the building following a major earthquake; the life and safety provisions are not intended to assure that a building is usable after the earthquake.

The state’s Field Act of 1933 requires that community college buildings be designed to UBC standards, but with about ten percent more earthquake-resistance capacity than the UBC. The purposes of the higher standards are to (1) increase the life safety protection for those in a building at the time of an earthquake, (2) increase the probability that a building can be used as a community center in the hours and days after a major earthquake, and (3) increase the probability that the buildings will be useable for educational purposes in the future, thereby protecting the investment in the building.

The Field Act also requires that a building inspector be on the building site on a continuous basis.

Under existing law, the State Architect must approve the engineering designs of community colleges. This approval is done after the plans are completed. The State Architect evaluates the designs for some, but not all, of the requirements of the UBC: (1) seismic requirements, (2) fire safety, (3) American Disability Act requirements, and (4) energy conservation requirements.

This bill would revise the process whereby the State Architect approves Community College building plans. There would be three changes.

First, the State Architect would be directed to review, at appropriate stages, the building plans being prepared for community college buildings. The purpose of this change is to allow the State Architect to provide input during the plan development process rather than at the end (as is done now), thus reducing the potential for the need for expensive and difficult changes after the plans are completed.

Second, the State Architect and the Community Colleges would be directed to enter into a collaborative process to improve the quality and efficiency of the design and construction of community college buildings – improving coordination, reducing the time for design and construction, improving building safety, reducing building life cycle costs, and including appropriate security into building design.

Third, the State Architect and the Community Colleges would be allowed to provide training for staff and for architects and engineers building community college buildings. The cost would be covered by a fee.

The “training” portion of the bill is patterned after Education Code Section 17308, which allows the State Architect to provide training for K-12 building designers and to charge a fee.

It is recognized that this new process may cost the community colleges more for the State Architect’s services, but it is thought that the overall cost will be lower. Overall costs are expected to be lower because early plan review should catch needed plan changes earlier in the design process when they are easier and less costly to correct. It is also thought that this new process will result is less construction delay (time is money).


After the Loma Prieta Earthquake, the Governor’s Board of Inquiry made recommendations about seismic safety for state facilities. The board recommended, among other things, that the California State University (CSU) improve its capability to assure that CSU buildings meet seismic requirements. In response, CSU created a Seismic Review Board, which was to undertake a system-wide program called “peer review.” Under peer review, members of the Seismic Review Board consult with the building designers at critical stages, primarily as a means of assuring that design errors are caught early in the design process, rather than at the end of the process. This bill is intended to emulate, in part, the process utilized by CSU.

California Community Colleges (sponsor) AFSCME
Community College Districts of Orange County
San Diego Community College District

None known

Clyde Macdonald
Assemblymember John Laird's Office (916) 319-2027
(916) 319-2127 FAX

Fact Sheet