City Adopts New Stricter State Building Codes for Fire Safety, Construction and Mechanical Codes

But City will also carry over some even stricter 2016 local code amendments in its building and safety codes

Published : Tuesday, October 8, 2019 | 5:05 AM

Pasadena will see new and stricter state building codes in 2020, particularly with regard to fire safety.

Pasadena’s City Council Monday night approved the adoption of the new codes, as well as amendments that would keep in effect some even stricter local codes passed in 2016.


Every three years, the California Building Safety Code adopts new sets of building codes in eight separate areas— Building Code, Residential Building Code, Mechanical Code, Plumbing Code, Electrical Code, Fire Code, and the Green Building Code

All local California jurisdictions must adopt and enforce the new codes, which will become effective January 1, 2020.

But local jurisdictions may amend the State regulations to address issues of local or regional importance such as fire or earthquake hazards, said Sarkis Nazirian of the Department of Public Works, and Wendell Eaton of the Pasadena Fire Department, who presented the new codes to the Public Safety Committee Monday afternoon.

Historically, the City has generally adopted amended versions of

these codes, and the staff has been working in coordination with the 87 other cities in LA County.

According to the presentation, most cities in LA County adopt the local amendments, with the goal of minimizing variations and promoting consistency statewide.

City staff also recommended that the existing amendments be carried over from the 2016 code cycle. The code amendments are generally related to more stringent building requirements to ensure greater protections against fires and earthquakes, according to the presentation.

As examples, the new codes will prohibit wood roofing materials, and permanent wood foundation system. The codes will also prohibit staples as fasteners.

New codes will also add requirements related to added structural stability, said the report.

In addition, a number of the new requirements in the codes adopted by the State contain requirements for solar installation, EV charging Stations, higher energy-efficient equipment, higher insulation requirements, and clarifying ADU requirements.

City staff is also recommending one new local amendment—to increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations and installations of chargers for new multi-family, mixed-use and commercial buildings.

Similar to the other codes, City staff is recommending to carry forward previously approved amendments, which will bring energy-efficient standards to a broader array of projects, such as municipal buildings over 5,000 square feet, and all projects over 25,000 square feet..

City Fire staff are also recommending carrying forward previously approved amendments with some exceptions.

Those amendments would reduce permitting requirements for some hazardous materials, such as carbon dioxide gas, used in small businesses with beverage delivery systems.

Fire flow requirements have also been capped at 1,500 gpm in residential construction.

In addition to the existing amendments, staff are recommending three new amendments — for temporary tent usage at special events, modifying language for special events occupant loads, and modifying language for Emergency Responder Radio Coverage specifications.

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