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Inventory of the Dept. of General Services. State Building Standards Commission Records
F3874 and R109  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Agency History
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Collections at the California State Archives
  • Related Resources not at the California State Archives

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Dept. of General Services. State Building Standards Commission Records
    Dates: 1955-1995
    Collection number: F3874 and R109
    Creator: California. State Building Standards Commission
    Collection Size: 14.5 cubic feet
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Abstract: The records of the California Building Standards Commission reflect the administrative processes of review, approval, adoption, publication, and implementation of California's building codes.
    Language: English

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Dept. of General Services - Building Standards Commission Records, [Identification number], [box and folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Agency History

    The Building Standards Commission (BSC) is part of the State of California's lineage of agencies to promote and regulate building safety. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire was seen by many as confirmation to the State's need for building regulations. The State Tenement Housing Act, adopted in 1909, set the precedent for state regulation of design and construction in the interest of the public health, safety, and welfare. The Commission of Immigration and Housing and the Division of Safety of the Department of Engineering were created in 1913. These two offices gained separate regulatory authority, but unfortunately this established a precedent of different state departments responding individually to similar building problems instead of collaboratively.
    The first Uniform Building Code was published in 1927 by the Pacific Coast Building Officials, which was then adopted in 1929 to act as standard building regulations for the state. In 1970, the Commission was required to adopt private industry building codes by reference (Statutes of 1970, ch. 1449) and the budget was reduced because research on codes not written by State agencies could not be justified. Currently, the BSC reviews the newest model codes published by an independent code-developing body the International Code Conference (ICC), before adopting some or all of them for use within the BSC's jurisdiction.
    The BSC was created in 1953 as an independent commission to eliminate duplication and overlap in state building regulations (Statutes of 1953, chapter 1500). Before the BSC became part of the Department of Public Works in 1959, it did not have a budget for staffing or research and therefore had little influence on change. However, the BSC's authority proceeded to develop as it moved to the Department of Finance in 1962 and finally to the Department of General Services in 1963 (Statutes of 1962, chapter 59 and Statutes of 1963, chapter 786). The Building Standards Law clarified the BSC's responsibilities for the evaluation and preparation of uniform building standards and provided Commission members with four-year term appointments (Statutes of 1965, chapter 1828).
    In 1979, Senator Robbins introduced SB 331, which provided the Building Standards Commission with broader powers in order to correct problems resulting from conflicting state regulations (Statutes of 1979, chapter 1152). The law proposed all building regulations adopted or changed by various state agencies would be reviewed and approved by the Commission before the regulations would be put into effect. The legislation also called for building standards to be removed from multiple titles of the California Code of Regulations and put into a single California Code of Regulations, Title 24. This code contains all of the building standards of the State of California and is divided into nine parts: Part 1-Administrative regulations of the State Building Standards Commission; Part 2-State Building Code references the Uniform Building Code; Part 3- State Electrical Code references the National Electrical Code; Part 4 -State Mechanical Code references the Uniform Mechanical Code; Part5 -State Plumbing Code references the Uniform Plumbing Code; Part 6 -Special Building Regulations; Part 7 -State Elevator Construction Code; Part 8 -State Historical Building Code; and Part 12 -State Reference Standards Code references Uniform Building Code Standards.
    The Commission currently consists of eleven members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate. The cabinet secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency, or the secretary's representative, also currently serves as the Commission Chair. The Building Standards Commission members represent the public, building design professionals, the building and construction industry, local-government building officials, fire officials, and labor.
    The Commission functions in a quasi-judicial capacity. It determines the performance standards and provides a format for State building regulations; approved, rejected, or requested new regulations; and reviews the appeals of agencies, businesses, or private citizens, which has been affected by the building regulations or decisions of any agency. To meet the increasing size and complexity of its tasks, the Commission appointed advisory panels to compile, integrate, and draft new regulations and constantly update those already published. The panel's findings are submitted to the affected agencies and are open for public review before being adopted by the Commission and incorporated into the California Administrative Code, Title 24, Building Standards Code.

    Scope and Content

    The records of the Building Standards Commission (BSC) consist of 14.5 cubic feet of textual records that were processed at two separate times. The first group was processed in the early 1990s and these records have the identification number F3874. The second group was processed in 2008 and these have the identification number R109. Both groups are described within this finding aid.
    The records processed with the number F3874 contain two cubic feet of textual records pertaining to the BSC from 1955-1971. This group is organized into seven series: (1) General Correspondence, (2) Administrative Files, (3) Committees and Subcommittees, (4) Advisory Panels, (5) State Agencies, (6) Public and Private Interest Groups, and (7) Legislation. Most series are arranged in reverse chronological order by year, except where noted. Some records within each series are incomplete because the Commission's filing system changed often. Materials relating to specific subjects may be found in more than one series.
    The majority of the BSC records consist of 12.5 cubic feet of textual records and six floppy disks containing electronic data. This record group is identified by R109. The records are arranged into 5 series covering the period of 1976-1995. The records includes Commission meeting agenda books, chronological files, rulemaking files, new prison construction standards, and correspondence from a special task force on state design and construction policy. The collection documents the effort of the BSC to produce sensible and useable state building standards and administrative regulations that implement or enforce those standards. The records of the BSC reflect the administrative processes of review, approval, adoption, publication, and implementation of California's building codes.
    The BSC meeting agenda books, Series R109.1, represent the BSC's main activities, which included the review, approval, and adoption of building standards. These agenda books include requests from state agencies and the public for adoption of new building standards and background information that assisted the BSC in making their decision. One subject of interest found within the agenda books may be the implementation of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1981 into state design requirements and enforcement of those requirements.
    The Chronological Files (Series R109.2) contain the BSC's general correspondence with related state agencies, representatives, and members of the public regarding disabled access requirements, meeting locations, and the itinerary of the BSC's executive director.
    The Rulemaking Files (Series R109.3) demonstrate the BSC process of receiving requests for change from varied state agencies. The regular rulemaking files express the different agencies need for change from building standards and the BSC's response to their requests. The files from 1980-1987 represent the administrative function of the commission. AB 47 (Chaptered 865) of 1991 introduced new responsibilities into the code adoption process. This bill transferred more of the building standard adoption authority to the commission and away from the Office of Safety Administration, Office of the State Fire Marshall, Office of State Health Planning and Development, or the Department of Housing and Community Development. The emergency rulemaking files reflect this change and include more emergency requests from these agencies. Some of the frequent issues found within the emergency rulemaking files are seismic safety regulations, fire prevention measures, and universal accessibility.
    The records regarding new prison construction, Series R109.4, are examples of specific design elements and broader planning issues that the BSC studied from previously constructed institutions. The study included requirements for establishing the need for a new facility, planning issues between the Department of Corrections and the local communities of the proposed location, financial discretion, guidelines for space standards, and other basic design criteria.
    The records pertaining to the State Design and Construction Task Force appear in Series R109.5. The task force was established through AB 246 (1987). This task force was intended as a two-year review of the State's design and construction policies. Phase I was conducted to identify strengths and weaknesses and to make proposals for improvement. Issues that the BSC thought needed to be addressed include the decisions to distribute public work to in-house design teams or to private practice, fees assessed to projects, and how related State agencies should manage construction. Phase II of implementation of changes was not executed because funding for the task force was withdrawn.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    California Building Standards Commission
    Construction industry Law and legislation
    Building laws

    Related Collections at the California State Archives

    Assembly Governmental Efficiency and Economy Committee Records
    Department of Health Services Records
    Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health
    Department of General Services - Division of the State Architect and State Consumer Services
    Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development
    Office of the State Fire Marshall

    Related Resources not at the California State Archives

    California Administrative Code Title 24, California State Law Library