916.447.4113 info@thecpsa.org

The California Pool & Spa Association™ (CPSA) – formerly California Pool & Spa Industry Education  Council (SPEC) ‐ has been the de facto government relations and public policy arm of the California  swimming pool and spa industry for over 40 years.  CPSA is the only organization registered to lobby on  behalf of the pool and spa industry in this state, and the only organization that has consistently  maintained a presence in the California Capitol with a proactive government relations program designed  to monitor and engage on issues affecting the swimming pool and spa industry at all levels of  government.   

What does this mean and why is it so important? In the realm of public policy, every business or industry  in this state is one bad headline, one unfortunate incident, one complaint to a legislator or regulator  away from a new law or regulation that could cost the business or industry time, money, or complication  in doing business. The swimming pool and spa industry experienced this very situation in 2014 relative  to the California drought when we realized that the only way to keep the industry from being shut down  during California’s historic drought, was to institute a statewide lobbying and public education program  relative to the real facts about water use by swimming pools and spas. The pool construction and  remodeling industry would have suffered tremendously in California and, along with it, most of the sales  of pools and spas and their related equipment.    

The California drought demonstrated the scope and breadth required of a proactive government affairs program in order to adequately defend the interests of the swimming pool and spa industry at all levels  of state and local government which can impose new laws, regulations, and ordinances on the industry.  The scope of work and the challenge presented by governmental entities in California are as follows:    

  • There are 58 counties in California 
  • The state has 478 cities 
  • There are over 700 water districts 
  • At least 10 state agencies deal with water and safety issues 
  • The California Legislature introduces legislation annually    

Each of these governmental entities can impose new requirements on the industry, and thus their activities must be monitored. Moreover, it is not enough to merely monitor these state and local  agencies, a proactive governmental relations program must have the budget, resources, and personnel  in place to respond to proposed laws and regulations, sometimes within hours of notice.  During the drought, CPSA appeared before city councils in almost 100 California cities to fight off proposed water  use restrictions on filling or refilling swimming pools and spas.  

To execute government affairs in a manner that can and will defend the industry against proposed adverse government actions, it involves showing up every day and being able to immediately respond to  proposed governmental actions at any level of state and local government. Perhaps the best example of  this challenge is to understand how the California State Legislature operates. California has one of the  only full‐time legislatures in the country; 120 legislators spend up to nine months each year in  Sacramento enacting new laws relative to the issues of the day. Approximately 2,500 bills are introduced  each year and roughly 1,000 of those legislative proposals will be enacted into law. 

CPSA monitors and reviews every one of these bills for anything that could adversely affect the swimming pool and spa business in the State of California or the industry nationwide. As it is common  knowledge that whatever happens in California on the legislative or regulatory front is often exported to  other states, it is extremely important for the industry to engage to fix or defeat proposals which are  averse to the swimming pool and spa business before they spread. What makes this task more difficult is  that 60% of the bills introduced are legislative intent bills or placeholders. What this means is that the  bills make non‐substantive changes to existing law or declare the intent of the Legislature to effectuate  some change in existing law. These bills will not be amended to reflect the true intent of the bill until  sometime later in March or early April, generally a week to 10 days out from the bill’s first policy  committee hearing.    

Most bills are not introduced until the third week of February, and those bills must be in print for at least 30 days prior to being heard by a legislative policy committee. As such, this only leaves about six weeks  for all 2,500 bills to have a policy committee hearing in the house of introduction. These timeframes  require lobbying and public interest groups to be able to respond quickly to bills that might adversely  affect their members. Certainly, there are other times in the legislative process when an organization  can do this, but it’s extremely advantageous to get involved early before a bad bill develops momentum.    

Adding to the difficulty of monitoring and reacting to the Legislature is the sheer number of policy committees that can potentially affect the swimming pool and spa business in California. Most of the  standing committees of both houses of the California Legislature have jurisdiction over issues that can  affect the industry including Consumer Affairs, Labor & Employment, Insurance, Business & Professions,  Water, Energy & Utilities, Natural Resources, Public Safety, Judiciary, and Transportation.    

The California Regulatory landscape is also a challenge. CPSA monitors the activities of the Contractors State License Board, California Building Standards Commission, Department of Pesticide Regulation,  California Air Recourses Board, California Water Commission, Department of Natural Resources,  California Energy Commission, California State Water Control Board, California Public Utilities  Commission, Department of Employment Development, and Department of Labor.    

Each of these agencies can and do promulgate regulations that pose issues and can have an economic effect on the swimming pool and spa industry. Obviously, the state agencies dealing with water issues  have been significant to CPSA over the last few years, and water issues in California are simply not going  away. The Department of Water Resources and California State Legislature enacted the Water Efficient  Landscape Ordinance and Governor Brown’s water plan which establishes both indoor and outdoor  water quota for residential structures. The final outdoor landscape quota is still a work in progress and  will not be finalized until 2022. CPSA has attended numerous meetings on this topic and retains outside  expert water consultants to assist the association in trying to make certain that, whatever the final  outdoor water quotas are, there is enough water to support swimming pools and spas. CPSA has also  California Pool & Spa Association™  915 L Street, Suite 1100  Sacramento, CA  95814  weighed in on building code regulation relative to commercial pool construction and maintenance.  These are ongoing activities as these codes are constantly being updated.     

Over the last two years, CPSA has led the effort to respond to concerns from the Department of Pesticide Regulation relative to accidental exposure to chlorine gas. The department, at one point, was  advocating for every pool maintenance professional to be required to be licensed by DPR. CPSA was  successful in convincing the department’s leadership that an educational campaign and video was the  first step in addressing this issue, especially considering most of the accidents involved facilities that  utilized a handyman to maintain their pool.  Just recently, the California Air Recourses Board reached  out to CPSA to assist them in outreach efforts to swimming pool contractors on new regulations on  construction equipment and trucks to reduce carbon output. As a result, the Air Resources Board agreed  to conduct a webinar for CPSA members. For years, the California Energy Commission has been  promulgating new energy efficiency regulations for swimming pool, spa, and portable hot tub  equipment and lighting. The association also works closely with the Contractors State License Board on  regulatory issues and working to address the underground economy that unfairly competes against  CPSA members.     

CPSA operates on a relatively small budget given what is at risk in California for the swimming pool and spa industry. In 2014, CPSA commissioned an economic impact study to understand the impact the pool  and spa industry has on the California economy. That study found that the swimming pool and spa  industry has an annual economic impact on California in excess of $5 billion dollars, not including the  remodel business. CPSA operates on a budget of less than $500,000 annually. In just the last five years  alone, CPSA has had numerous successes which more than justify its operating budget by fighting off  challenges that would cost the industry more.     

In summary, CPSA has a rich history of providing legislative and regulatory representation for the swimming pool and spa industry in the largest market in the nation, even when we did not have the  financial resources to fund our activities. The potential challenges for the industry from a government  affairs standpoint are daunting, and they present substantial risk to the future of the pool and spa  industry in CA and across the nation. These challenges require proactive government relations, including  a constant presence, timely response, developing relationships with governmental entities, and an  informed and committed advocacy program to be successful.