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The 2019 California Building Codes go into effect 1-1-2020. Over the last several months virtually every city in the state has added the 2019 updates to their agendas and has approved them for implementation starting the first of the year. These include new plumbing, hardscape and swimming pool & spa codes.

Unfortunately, despite the efforts of CPSA and its allies, 23 of California’s 478 cities have enacted so-called “REACH” codes that go beyond the state building codes. In one way or another, these ordinances ban the use of natural gas in new residential and commercial structures, including swimming pools and spas, or require mitigation and/or waivers in order to use natural gas.

Swimming pool and spa builders can consult the list of cities having enacted such codes effective 1-1-2020 and access a short summary of each code, HERE. Some cities have exempted cooking, which should apply as well to outside kitchens and BBQs. Some have also exempted decorative fireplaces, but it is not clear that the exemption would apply to fire pits. A few cities have exemptions for swimming pools & spas, either by applying for a waiver or through mitigation achieved by pre-wiring for future electrical.

Although each city that has enacted “REACH” codes had designated an effective date of 1-1-2020, codes that exceed the 2019 state building codes must be approved by the California Energy Commission. Thus far, the CEC has only approved six city’s “REACH” codes. They are the Cities of Menlo Park, San Jose, San Mateo, Santa Monica, West Hollywood and the County of Marin.

CPSA, as a member of Californians for Balanced Energy Solutions, filed a letter with the Commission objecting to these ordinances on the basis that they undermine the purpose of statewide building codes and violate the charge of the CEC: “to encourage the balanced use of all energy sources and to avoid possible undesirable consequences of reliance on a single source of energy.” Unfortunately, we did not prevail.

Not all is lost. The first six “REACH” codes approved by the CEC are among the most modest, most encouraging all-electric construction, but allowing for mitigation or variance. 113 mostly Southern California cities have voted to keep their natural gas choice, and the coalition supporting balanced energy solutions continues to grow.

The end game for those opposed to “REACH” codes is likely to be litigation. CPSA has joined the California Restaurant Association in suing the City of Berkley in Federal Court to stop implementation of their ordinance mandating all-electric construction in commercial and residential buildings, including remodels. CPSA has retained appellate counsel and will be filing a friend of the court brief supporting the restaurant association position early in 2020.

Without your support, CPSA is unable to fight all the necessary battles for the pool and spa industry in California. Join today!