California Legislative Session may have Impact on State’s Apartment Owners

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One bill, of the 1,310 that will be introduced in the just-convened 2010 California Legislative Session

Sacramento, Calif.–One bill, of the 1,310 that will be introduced in the just-convened 2010 California Legislative Session, should be monitored closely by owners of California multifamily properties who have pools, according to John Norwood, president of the California Spa & Pool Industry Education Council (SPEC).

One bill, AB2409, would separate pools, spas and hot tubs from the definition of “water feature” that was contained in a bill that was previously enacted into law. The bill would exclude swimming pools, spas and hot tubs from the definition of “water feature.”

The bill that became law mandated that the state Department of Water Resources adopt a model water efficient landscape ordinance by June 1, 2009. Also, the bill required every public entity to either adopt its own water efficient landscape ordinance by January 1, 2010, or require that the state model ordinance go into effect by default.

The enactment of AB2409 would protect public and residential swimming pools, spas and hot tubs from being ordered shut down in certain emergency situations, including those adopted by local agencies or drought ordinances.

It is crucial that pools be separated from other water features such as fountains and waterfalls, Norwood says, as a pool that is empty of water will deteriorate, he says.

“There is the danger of the plaster cracking,” he says.

A number of bills that will be taken up in this session will be aimed at contractors who fail to purchase workers’ compensation insurance.  For example, one bill to be introduced, SB 1254, would authorize the registrar of contractors within the Contractors State License Board to issue a stop order to any unlicensed contractor who has failed to secure workers’ compensation insurance coverage for his or her employees. The bill would make a failure to comply with the stop order a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment or a fine.

Multifamily property owners face difficulties if they employ contractors who have not provided workers’ compensation to their employees, as they could face liability issues if a worker is injured on the owners’ property, Norwood says.

Norwood also advises that apartment owners in California equip their pools to conform to a California law passed last year to comply with federal safety standards, called the Virginia Graeme Baker Act. This measure calls for drains in public pools and spas, which includes those in multifamily properties, to be replaced to conform to stricter safety standards, and ensure that pools and spas are equipped with proper safety devices.

The standards are named after a seven year old girl who drowned in a hot tub in 2004, after being trapped underwater by the suction of the drain.

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