The California Building Standards Commission this week issued a Bulletin 19-06 to state agencies, local governments and interested parties relative to the Swimming Pool Safety Act. The purpose of the Bulletin was to correct errors and omissions that occurred in the publication of the 2019 California Building Code and 2019 California Residential Code.
HS Code Section 18942(b) requires the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) to publish the text of the Act in the California Residential Code, Part 2.5 of Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations. As a convenience for the code users, CBSC also published the text of the Act in Chapter 31 of the California Building Code, Part 2 of Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations.
2019 California Building Code, Chapter 31
In reviewing the 2019 California Building Code (CBC) publication, it was identified that an error occurred within the adoption table which identifies the Building Standards Commission as “adopting” Section 3109 in its entirety, which is misleading. The California Building Standards Commission does not have authority in law to interpret or make specific swimming pool or spa regulations. As stated above, the CBSC is required to publish the Act’s text and has done so as a convenience to code users, but they do not have the authority to “adopt” the code. As such, this Bulletin points out that, so this statement is misleading and needs to be corrected. Only local governments may amend building standards or adopt model codes, provided the adoption of such building standards or model codes do not conflict with state law, building standards, or other adopted California regulations.
2019 California Residential Code, Appendix V
In a previous rulemaking, Appendix V was added to the California Residential Code (CRC), Part 2.5 of Title 24 pursuant to HS Code 18942 and contains the statutory language of the Swimming Pool Safety Act. Because this is an appendix chapter and no state agency acronym is checked in the matrix adoption table, local jurisdictions may not recognize that the contents of Appendix V are state law, and these mandatory building standards must be enforced by local governments for the safe design and construction of private single-family home swimming pools. However, CBSC intends to add explanatory language below the Appendix V title to clearly state that the appendix chapter contains the minimum requirements for private single-family home swimming pools.
Local Government Amendment Authority
Local governments may amend the building standards contained in the California Building Standards Code, Title 24 as provided in state law. The state laws regarding local amendments are specific to the types of buildings and building features and establish requirements and restrictions for amendments. Specifically, the Bulletin describes how local governments must enforce the Title 24 provisions as applicable, may enact more restrictive requirements for local conditions, and adopt administrative regulations and approve alternatives.
As to the Swimming Pool Safety Act, local governments could adopt regulations interpreting Subsection (7) of HSC 115922:
(a) Except as provided in Section 115925, when a building permit is issued for the construction of a new swimming pool or spa or the remodeling of an existing swimming pool or spa at a private single-family home, the respective swimming pool or spa shall be equipped with at least two of the following seven drowning prevention safety features:
(1) An enclosure that meets the requirements of Section 115923 and isolates the swimming pool or spa from the private single-family home.
(2) Removable mesh fencing that meets American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Specifications F2286 standards in conjunction with a gate that is self-closing and self-latching and can accommodate a key lockable device.
(3) An approved safety pool cover, as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 115921.
(4) Exit alarms on the private single-family home’s doors that provide direct access to the swimming pool or spa. The exit alarm may cause either an alarm noise or a verbal warning, such as a repeating notification that “the door to the pool is open.”
(5) A self-closing, self-latching device with a release mechanism placed no lower than 54 inches above the floor on the private single-family home’s doors providing direct access to the swimming pool or spa.
(6) An alarm that, when placed in a swimming pool or spa, will sound upon detection of accidental or unauthorized entrance into the water. The alarm shall meet and be independently certified to the ASTM Standard F2208 “Standard Safety Specification for Residential Pool Alarms,” which includes surface motion, pressure, sonar, laser, and infrared type alarms. A swimming protection alarm feature designed for individual use, including an alarm attached to a child that sounds when the child exceeds a certain distance or becomes submerged in water, is not a qualifying drowning prevention safety feature.
(7) Other means of protection, if the degree of protection afforded is equal to or greater than that afforded by any of the features set forth above and has been independently verified by an approved testing laboratory as meeting standards for those features established by the ASTM or the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
And sub-section (c) of HSC 115925:
The requirements of this article do not apply to any of the following:
(a) Public swimming pools.
(b) Hot tubs or spas with locking safety covers that comply with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM F1346).
(c) An apartment complex, or any residential setting other than a single-family home.
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