Category Archives: HSCA Position – Bill 270

Official HSCA position on Bill #270

Building codes interview & resources

Aloha,
I am forwarding this interview and info to you although you are probably well abreast to the DCAT and their function in the Building code community. I think this interview is especially supportive as it was 1st published in the Building Standards magazine from the ICBO. I am a retired building inspector and am beginning the process of developing some property.
Mahalo for your efforts
Leanne Budlong
<http://www.dcat.net/about_dcat/current/codes.php>

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BUILDING CODES: BARRIERS TO GREEN INNOVATION

BUILDING CODES:
BARRIERS TO GREEN INNOVATION
A report by – http://www.dovetailinc.org/content/about-dovetail
18 OCTOBER 2011

Quotes
Building codes ensure the health, safety and welfare of building users and the public. Unfortunately, many of today’s codes are prescriptive and based on traditional industry standards, thereby precluding innovative approaches to environmentally responsible design. An additional problem is that design standards are evolving at a faster pace than building codes. Therefore it is critical to supplement existing building codes with provisions for innovation in order to create opportunities to introduce technological and other improvements more rapidly.

Barriers to Green Development
Green building still represents a small percentage of total construction.3 One reason for this is that existing codes and code officials often pose barriers to changes in construction practices. Another is anticipation of resistance from code officials.

The study found current building regulators are unaware of the “risks and unintended consequences
inherent in current practice”.
Additionally, most building departments lack the time and resources to
educate building officials about these issues and essential elements of green building. The researchers
found a surprising 65% of surveyed code users intentionally left out green building elements
because they anticipated that code officials would deny the design.

Strategies for increasing the potential for code approval:
1. Present sufficient information to the building official pertaining to
the green building technology (technical, engineered tests, precedents)
2. When applicable, include contact information of code official in
other jurisdiction where similar green building technology was approved
3. Collaborate with code officials early in the design process, and begin the approval process early

Steps that can be taken to improve the compatibility of building
regulations and green building:
1. Organize research committees within building department to inform
code officials of green alternatives

Graham Ellis

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Why have sustainable building code?

The unprecedented  Council debate on the budget clearly demonstrates the change in economics affecting Big Island residents. Many of us believe that this calls for some changes in our economic model and our current laws affecting building.  For the last year members of the Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance  (www. hawaiisustainablecommunity.org) have been researching and developing an alternative building code to be presented to the County Council in the very near future.
The Sustainable Habitat Building Code is seen as an addition and alternative  to the present Universal Building Code and not a replacement. It would allow many of the thousands of residents presently living illegally in unpermitted  dwellings to come into compliance as well as providing a legal option for future home owners looking to build more affordably or sustainably.
The model followed by our proposed legislation has been adopted successfully in at least six California Counties for over 20 years and has been their response to the limitations of the Universal Building Code.
What aligns all the supporters of an alternative building code is that it promotes the American Dream of homeownership without the banks holding title and the threat of foreclosure.  The Sustainable Habitat Building Code will legalize the traditional  homesteaders approach to building where it happens incrementally as owners can afford additions and improvements plus it will permit occupancy during the building process.  It helps avoid the need for mortgages and the crippling rental senario which so often prevents the accumulation of funds for building. The new legislation will promote more affordable housing by allowing for the use of alternative local building materials (including recycled materials) and eliminating the UBC requirement for costly licensed contractors.
We have a draft of our proposal being presented individually to Council Members as well as members of the administration and we intend to submit our plan as soon as the budget dust settles. In the meantime we are looking to get the word out to the public to get more input and support for this long overdue revision to the building options available  to residents.
I hope that you can help us create more truly affordable home ownership on Hawaii Island.
Sincerely,
Graham Ellis

The unprecedented  Council debate on the budget clearly demonstrates the change in economics affecting Big Island residents. Many of us believe that this calls for some changes in our economic model and our current laws affecting building.  For the last year members of the Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance  (www. hawaiisustainablecommunity.org) have been researching and developing an alternative building code to be presented to the County Council in the very near future.

The Sustainable Habitat Building Code is seen as an addition and alternative  to the present Universal Building Code and not a replacement. It would allow many of the thousands of residents presently living illegally in unpermitted  dwellings to come into compliance as well as providing a legal option for future home owners looking to build more affordably or sustainably.

The model followed by our proposed legislation has been adopted successfully in at least six California Counties for over 20 years and has been their response to the limitations of the Universal Building Code.

What aligns all the supporters of an alternative building code is that it promotes the American Dream of homeownership without the banks holding title and the threat of foreclosure.  The Sustainable Habitat Building Code will legalize the traditional  homesteaders approach to building where it happens incrementally as owners can afford additions and improvements plus it will permit occupancy during the building process.  It helps avoid the need for mortgages and the crippling rental senario which so often prevents the accumulation of funds for building. The new legislation will promote more affordable housing by allowing for the use of alternative local building materials (including recycled materials) and eliminating the UBC requirement for costly licensed contractors.

We have a draft of our proposal being presented individually to Council Members as well as members of the administration and we intend to submit our plan as soon as the budget dust settles. In the meantime we are looking to get the word out to the public to get more input and support for this long overdue revision to the building options available  to residents.

I hope that you can help us create more truly affordable home ownership on Hawaii Island.

Sincerely,
Graham Ellis

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What is this Bill 270?

Aloha fellow proposed  Bill 270 Building Code stakeholder

This morning, June 7, 2011, the County Council heard the first reading

of Bill 270 Proposed Building Code, Bill 269 Proposed Plumbing Code

and  Bill 268 Proposed Electrical Code. Only 2 people spoke on Bill

270 and one each on the others.  All three bills passed the first

reading unanimously.  The second and final hearing will be July 22,

2011.  If  passed at that hearing the three bills become the law of

Hawaii County  90 days later.

The proposed Bill 270 Building Code includes by adoption many other documents:

Bill 270 Proposed Chapter 5 BUILDING  ( Available to print off the

County web site. )

The International Building Code, 2006 Edition  ( 1738 pages, $179.00,

You may review at County Clerks Office, Public Works Office, Hilo

Library Reference or buy it. ) ( I will suggest the IBC be adopted as

reference – not a part of the code. ) ( page 1 of Bill 270 )

The International Energy Conservation Code, 2006/2007 ( Chicago Energy

Code – Miami, FL zone 1 applies to all 13 Hawaii Island climate zones

)

State of Hawaii Building Code

There maybe more and on page 4, Bill 270 there are 10 more other laws.

Our goal should be a common sense Building Code written for the

inhabitants of Hawaii Island that reduces the cost of building to

provide affordable housing for all.

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John’s testimony Bill 270

we need to create our own systems for determining what and how is built here – systems that suit our social, cultural, ecological and economic contexts, and that address our actual needs in terms of safety, affordability and other key issues to do with our built environment and land use policies. Bill 270 contradicts both those points. For that and plenty other reasons it needs to be rejected, and work started on approaches that are truly appropriate for Hawai’i County and our neighbor islands. mahalo, John Schinnerer

we need to create our own systems for determining what and how is built here – systems that suit our social, cultural, ecological and economic contexts, and that address our actual needs in terms of safety, affordability and other key issues to do with our built environment and land use policies. Bill 270 contradicts both those points. For that and plenty other reasons it needs to be rejected, and work started on approaches that are truly appropriate for Hawai’i County and our neighbor islands. mahalo, John Schinnerer

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Graham’s testimony on Bill 270

I am writing as the Chairman of the Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance.
We are a group of 250 Big island Residents formed a year ago with the initial focus to research, write and present an alternative code for Hawaii County.
We have learned that we are not alone in this endeavor, in addition to Hawaiians for Affordable Housing and Bob Ernst’s Stakeholders we are aware of at least five other groups organizing to submit proposals to the Administration.
Early on in our research we met with Scott Leonard, Zoning Inspector and learned from him that other Mainland Counties have tried and tested Alternative Building codes over the last three decades. We also learned from him about the complexities and injustices of administering the current code in his testimony to the Cost of Government Commission (please refer to the attached file).
We decided that in a County as diverse as ours it makes absolute sense to have an Alternative Code. We started work on a Sustainable Habitat Resolution addressing limited density rural dwellings and appurtenant structures and have presented the concept to three Council Members who all gave their support.
The final draft is presently with Legislative Review (see file attached) and will be presented to County Council by Angel Pilago.  Scheduled dates for hearings are September 22nd, October 4th and October 19th.
Our Organization has also written a draft of a Sustainable Habitat Ordinance which is also attached for your review. This is totally based upon the codes that have been adopted by other mainland Counties.
Finally, our organization would like to endorse the points raised by Ross Armetta in his letter to you dated  9/12/11.
Thank you for your willingness to work with residents of our County on creating building codes that work for all our different needs.
Mahalo,
Graham Ellis
Chair, Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance.

I am writing as the Chairman of the Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance.We are a group of 250 Big island Residents formed a year ago with the initial focus to research, write and present an alternative code for Hawaii County.We have learned that we are not alone in this endeavor, in addition to Hawaiians for Affordable Housing and Bob Ernst’s Stakeholders we are aware of at least five other groups organizing to submit proposals to the Administration.Early on in our research we met with Scott Leonard, Zoning Inspector and learned from him that other Mainland Counties have tried and tested Alternative Building codes over the last three decades. We also learned from him about the complexities and injustices of administering the current code in his testimony to the Cost of Government Commission (please refer to the attached file).
We decided that in a County as diverse as ours it makes absolute sense to have an Alternative Code. We started work on a Sustainable Habitat Resolution addressing limited density rural dwellings and appurtenant structures and have presented the concept to three Council Members who all gave their support.The final draft is presently with Legislative Review (see file attached) and will be presented to County Council by Angel Pilago.  Scheduled dates for hearings are September 22nd, October 4th and October 19th.
Our Organization has also written a draft of a Sustainable Habitat Ordinance which is also attached for your review. This is totally based upon the codes that have been adopted by other mainland Counties.
Finally, our organization would like to endorse the points raised by Ross Armetta in his letter to you dated  9/12/11.
Thank you for your willingness to work with residents of our County on creating building codes that work for all our different needs.
Mahalo,Graham EllisChair, Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance.

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study why affordable housing is becoming less available

Hawaii County Office of Housing and Community Development signed a $34,000 consultant contract to study why affordable housing is becoming less available.
see full story at
http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/sections/commentary/their-views/why-housing-costs-so-much.html
written by
Ed Gutteling, vice president of the Conservative Forum for Hawaii.

Hawaii County Office of Housing and Community Development signed a $34,000 consultant contract to study why affordable housing is becoming less available.
see full story athttp://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/sections/commentary/their-views/why-housing-costs-so-much.htmlwritten by
Ed Gutteling, vice president of the Conservative Forum for Hawaii.

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Testimony against Bill 270 more

Dear Council Members,

I am writing in regards to Building Code Bill 270 that is currently being reviewed and in consideration of amending. I live rurally in Puna and have done so for the last 6 years on my land. I am a professional and have my own business, however, I cannot afford to build according to the current building codes of HI. As a result, I have built using mostly recycled materials. While my finances prevent me from building in accordance with HI building codes, my conscience also prevents me from following the current codes. I believe very strongly in sustainable living and this includes sustainable building practices. Unfortunately, in our Western culture, we seem to be moving further and further away from living in a way that takes into account the fact that the planet is a closed system and that means our resources are finite. Our homes are increasing in size while the pockets of corporate entities also increase in wealth. I believe in living in such a way where my footprint is as small as I can feasibly make it. This means living off the grid – having a solar system, catching my water and, yes, composting my own manure. My grandfather told me a story recently about his days growing up in Philadelphia and how, when the horse and carriage came down the street to sell and deliver produce to the people, the people rushed out not as much for the vegetables as they did for the horse’s droppings. This was gold to them because they used it to fertilize their own gardens.  Recently, I picked up a book in my local library called “Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind” written by Gene Logsdon. It is an in-depth look at the insanity of our current system of waste management as well as our agricultural system. I strongly suggest you read this book as it will give you insight into why so many people are using composting toilets and how this particular system of “re-use” is beneficial.

I don’t want to be considered a criminal simply because I choose to live in a way that is less harmful to our precious island. Of all places, we in Hawaii need to adopt policies and laws that protect people such as myself who are doing our best to conserve our natural resources. By using recycled materials as well as local woods such as guava to build, people like myself are acting as stewards not only to HI but to the forests being cut down in CA and OR from which wood is shipped to HI for building.  There is no reason why I should not be allowed to be a steward of my own land and live in ways that stem from a deep belief and desire to care for the earth in my own small way.

As far as Building Code Bill 270 goes, I strongly request that there is inclusion of an amendment stating  “adoption of this regulation does not limit or prevent the adoption of alternative codes and building regulations  by Hawaii County, nor does it require a future amendment to this bill.” I also request the removal of the section 5-48-5 on Page 17 that changes infractions from a civil to a criminal offense. Unfortunately, I am currently off-island otherwise you would see me in person at your next meeting about this issue. I sincerely hope that you consider the testimonies of people like myself when you decide upon this bill. Please do not make us criminals simply because we want to live in sustainable ways that are not yet considered acceptable. Be the pioneers and the courageous men and women who choose to stand up for what’s right in a time when the planet so desperately needs our help. Let’s make Hawai’i the role model to which other states can look and be inspired.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Aloha, Melissa

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testimony against Bill 270 building codes

aloha,
i am here to make comments on the proposed enforcement of
building codes….me main objection to standard building codes is that
it is one size fits all, and is geared toward consuming large amounts
of expensive materials from far away….especially today, not all are
in the same income bracket, so why only one code arrangement for
all????…this is favoring those with more money….it is wasteful and
unsustainable….
certainly commercial businesses that invite customers in might have
more strict codes, but not simple natural living folks in the
country….for thousands of years native peoples lived without codes
for their personal shelter needs, and had few if any problems related,
except perhaps for severe weather conditions in which we can be warned
to leave the area today….
if a local neighbor deems another’s house dangerous, let them then
file a complaint for an inspection….. but before that happens,
please leave us alone….the previous mayor felt this way too, why all
of the sudden a change????……is it for more development and greedy
consumer mentality to take over the island????…many of us came here
to get away from that….that is part of what makes big island hawaii
special, not a bunch more hotels and condos and rich retired people,
as most of the other islands have, and have also lost much of the
aloha spirit also….
if those more wealthy unnatural living people, who do not build their
own homes need codes for security, fine, give it to them in specially
designated areas, but give alternative simple natural people, who want
to build their own home a few options, or better yet leave them alone
unless a neighbor complains…..we are not all rich, nor do we all
wish to build expensive, ungreen unsustainable type
buildings……..this code thing in general is not green or
sustainable….get with the new greener age, before we destroy more of
nature with coding as usual….
codes, of many and various kinds, can be designed to prevent
unsanitary or dangerous conditions….this can easily be done with
alternative code arrangements, for those who prefer simple alternative
living close to nature….we have all seen dangerous and unsanitary
situations in codes houses too…..
much of the mainland type coding is overbuilt for hawaii, we do not
have heavy snows on roofs as some mainlanders do, yet the standard
codes do not account for such things…we do not need double, triple
wall construction for cold weather,  since we are living in the
tropics….one size fits code systems are not practical or economical
or sustainable…we are in a difficult economic period, this code
mentality is not economical….let those who want to go by a code
system do it, and give others an alternative instead of one size fits
all…one size fits all is very unfair….we do not wish to be coded
clones living in a system that pollutes the earth and is
unsustainable…some of us wish to demonstrate an alternative more
sustainable living system….we should be honored, not
harrassed…..we build beautiful unique structures if left alone, in
harmony with the earth and landscape….
some people are content to live a simple low income life…we are
content to live close to nature in more natural shelters or houses
built with materials gotten more locally and from the land or
recycled….we are not commercial enterprises or store
fronts……there is no injured party if our house falls apart over
time, except the house owner, so why not leave us alone, and/or only
consider inspections for these type people only if some neighbor
complains….even code houses can cause injury in extreme weather….
if given alternative code systems, hawaii could be a better greener
more sustainable example than the mainland usa, by showing examples of
more  economical, simple, natural, housing….there are a few places
on the mainland who already allow this type thing, where they have
petitioned the local government for more choices in codes, rather than
one size fits all….why can’t we do that here????….
we alternative building people are valuable to the government, but the
government it seems is controlled by the more wealthy competitive
folks it seems, who have little respect for nature, and rather have
a  keep up with the jones’s mentality…this mentality is destroying
nature….please consider giving some of us greener folks, simpler
living folks options, so we can demonstrate a better
example….especially in the tropics, where housing is less critical
or important….
i came to hawaii to get away from traditional codes, and have never
been injured in any building i ever built in me life, and i have built
many….i love creating low cost, creative, beautiful, simple,
natural, sustainable buildings more in harmony with nature….standard
codes take this freedom away…..please leave me alone to live simple
with nature….i will not pollute or become unsanitary or build
dangerous buildings….mahalo and aloha,
w greenwald, land owner
and house builder in hawaii…..
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