City to study building code issue

By Jack King

The city of Clovis moved closer Thursday to taking a position on a statewide debate over building codes with the City Commission appointing an International Building Codes Task Force to study the implementing one of two rival sets of codes.
The commission approved the move 7-0.
Mayor David Lansford and Commissioner Kevin Duncan asked if a task force is necessary. Both said the city should adopt the International Building Codes as soon as possible.
City Manager Ray Mondragon said the task force could help tailor the codes to Clovis. He added that its study would be useful for another reason — he said he plans to bring recommendations to the commission later this year about reorganizing the city’s Inspections Department.
Lansford said the average person has a stake in the debate if he or she wants to maintain affordable building costs, whether in commercial or home construction.
The other code being considered is the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 5000 Building Construction and Safety Code.
“There’s an indication that the NFPA 5000 codes are extreme. We don’t need to build structures that can withstand 200-mile-an-hour winds. Everyone cares about safety, but it’s a misuse of public and private funds to overbuild,” he said.
The commission first heard about the codes debate during a lengthy meeting July 17. Former president of the Building Contractors Association Randy Crowder told the commission the state is moving toward adoption of the NFPA 5000 Building Construction and Safety Code. But many builders, as well as the state Municipal League and several government agencies advocate the use of the International Building Codes, an outgrowth of the Uniform Building Codes the city now uses, he said.
Crowder charged the development of NFPA 5000 codes was dominated by unions and other special interests. Thomas Montano — chairman of the state Construction Industries Commission, and business manager of the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Union’s Albuquerque local — denied the charge. But he also has sent Attorney General Patricia Madrid a letter urging her to take action against cities in the state that adopt the IBC codes.
On Thursday night, Rudy Zamora — business manager of the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Union local in Las Cruces, with Clovis as part of his territory — told the commission that according to state statute, any set of codes it adopts must be approved by the state Construction Industries Division.
City Attorney Dave Richards disagreed.
“There is a provision that the city can’t adopt a statute less stringent than the state’s, but if the city commission finds the codes meet the statute, it’s CID’s responsibility to question it. The commission can make the finding of what are appropriate standards for this community,” he said.
The task force would be composed of Assistant City Manager Joe Thomas, a commissioner, the city Inspections Department director, two building inspectors, three members of the Building Contractor’s Association and two members from the Real Estate community, according to the resolution.
In other business, the commission adopted its fiscal year 2004 Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan and restructured its Investment/Budget Committee. Under the new provisions, the committee will be named the Finance Committee and will be charged with monitoring budgetary compliance by city departments. For the first time, it also will include a city commissioner.
Commissioner Catherine Haynes, the new committee member, said the committee will try to ensure departments meet budgetary and strategic goals and will try to cut down on the city government’s long-standing practice of transferring money from department to department to fund projects.