Council fails to approve updated building codes
What likely was expected to be a routine adoption Wednesday by the Yuma City Council of updated building codes turned into a discussion about how the codes are developed and in the end failed due to an insufficient number of affirmative votes.
The measure actually passed 3-1 with Councilman Edward Thomas casting the no vote without comment. Council members Cody Beeson, Jerry Stuart and Lesle McClendon were absent.
However, the Yuma City Charter requires affirmative votes by a majority of the entire council – meaning four “yes” votes – for adoption of new ordinances, City Administrator Greg Wilkinson explained after the meeting. That means the ordinances will be brought before the council again when it next meets on March 20.
The discussion began with concerns expressed by Vince Coppola that the city's proposed new codes are called the “international” codes and might open the door to usurpation of private property rights here by the international community.
Sandy Coppola then asked a number of questions, such as who develops the codes, what incentive is there for the city to adopt them and what happens if it doesn't.
City Building Official Randy Crist responded that the model codes are actually drawn up by building officials such as himself from cities and towns around the United States. They're called the international codes because other counties also adopt them.
He noted that two items in the codes came from Yuma: one the result of two fires in insulating material at the Dole Salad Plant while it was under construction, the other was the way Yuma building officials tested grease traps.
Crist also noted that the city already has international building codes in place that were adopted in 2003. The new codes would update them to reflect new building materials, methods and standards as well as safety issues that have come up since then.
“If we fall too far behind, it can impact insurance,” he said.
The new building codes include one that sets standards for commercial development, another residential construction. There's also a code that revises standards for changes made existing properties, a property management code that adds criteria to help inspectors and code enforcers determine whether a building is safe, and for the first time a new energy conservation code for commercial development.
They were all developed through a lengthy process that involved considerable input from the construction industry.
Mayor Al Krieger said he's always cautious about the adoption of new codes that put a burden on the construction industry, but he hasn't had one call either way. As a former member of the city's Building Advisory Committee, he said he also understands the importance to builders to have the same standards across the state.