SEAOC/SEAONC Committee on Elevated Exterior Elements

By Jeffrey Taner, SE, Chair of the SEAOC/SEAONC Committee on Elevated Exterior Elements (CEEE)

Shortly after the fatal June 2015 collapse of a balcony in Berkeley, the City of Berkeley enacted local ordinances that more strictly regulate the design and inspection of exterior elements in certain new multi-unit residential buildings. The ordinances also require property owners to retain a licensed professional to assess the condition of exterior elements in certain existing multi-unit residential buildings every three years. 

City of Berkeley Activity

The Berkeley City Council convened a task force comprising various stakeholders to advise the City on how to implement the legislation.  In support of the Berkeley Task force, a joint SEAONC/SEAOC ad-hoc committee was formed, the Committee on Elevated Exterior Elements (CEEE). The committee's short-term charge was to provide input to the City of Berkeley Task Force. Neither the Berkeley Task Force nor the CEEE performed any investigation of facts concerning the collapsed Berkeley balcony.

SEAONC members Jeff Taner, SE, Randy Collins, SE, Terry Egland, PE and Mark Gilligan, SE have been participating in the Task Force meetings as delegates from the CEEE.  The CEEE provided input  to the Berkeley Task Force on the development of various documents the City is using to administer the new ordinances. Three documents prepared by the City of Berkeley with CEEE/Task Force input include:

  • The Inspection Certification Form,
  • A Frequently Asked Questions publication, and
  • Guidelines for Inspectors

These are all available from the City of Berkeley’s Exterior Elevated Elements Inspection Program website at: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/E3/ The CEEE delegates also assisted City staff with responding to matters the City Council referred to staff.

State of California Activity

The California Building Standards Commission in its October 2015 meeting heard a request from the City of Berkeley to amend the state building code to more strictly regulate the design, construction and inspection of exterior elements.  CEEE member Ken Lutrell, SE spoke at the meeting on SEAOC's behalf urging the BSC and HCD to solicit SEAOC involvement in any building code changes it entertains. It is anticipated that the commission will take further action on this item in the New Year.

Future Directions

The CEEE intends to monitor future activity at the BSC and HCD.  CEEE is also considering development of a model ordinance for local jurisdictions planning to enact legislation similar to Berkeley's. Development of change proposals to the International Building Code may also be considered.

Thank you to the CEEE committee members for their contributions:  Jeff Taner (chair), Randy Collins (co-chair), John Dal Pino, Terry Egland, Andy Fennell, Mark Gilligan, and Nancy Tennebaum from SEAONC; Doug Krug, Catherine Low, Ken Luttrell and Steve Pelham from SEAOCC; Teo Francu, Richard Hess and Tak Matsushita from SEAOSC; and Karyn Beebe and Steve Spence from SEAOSD.

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