Who is the Town Building Official? Town ordinance Â§ 31.36 states that the Town Planning Director is designated as the Town’s Building Official. However, state law requires that all building officials complete one year of verifiable experience in the appropriate field and obtain certification from a recognized state, national, or international association. The only people who are exempt are those who have been employed as a construction inspector, plans examiner, or building official with the same local agency since 1994. The problem is that we haven’t been able to find any record that Hope Sullivan or any one in the Town has such a certificate.
Maybe this explains why, although the Town sometimes deviates from the uniform building and fire codes, it has not complied with state law. In order to vary from the uniform code, the Town would need to have made findings about local climatic, geological or topographical conditions. These need to be filed with the California Building Standards Commission. We asked at the Commission’s office, as well as the Department of Housing and Community Development and were told that they had no record that any such findings have ever been filed by the Town.
The reason we are concerned is that one of the critical deviations is the Town requirement that sprinklers be installed when single family homes are built. This important change was proposed by our Fire Department and we believe it is an important step in preventing the kind of damage that occurred in the Oakland Hills a few years ago.
We have a terrific Fire Department. In case you weren’t aware, the Woodside Fire Protection District serves 32 square miles including the Town of Woodside, the Town of Portola Valley and several unincorporated areas such as Ladera, Los Trancos Woods, Vista Verde, Emerald Lake, and part of the Skyline area. It operates three fire stations and serves a population of 25,000. That’s a big herd to take care of and a lot of range to manage.
We would hate to see the fire sprinkler ordinance moo-ted because someone challenged it on the grounds that the Town has not followed the necessary procedure. We urge the Town to correct this oversight quickly.
To find the Woodside Town Ordinance about sprinklers, go to http://www.amlegal.com/woodside%5Fca/ and search for Town Building Official.
To see the State Law, go to http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html check the box marked Health & Safety and search for 17958.7.