Support of Adaptive Reuse, Conflict of Interest Fix, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion,: AIA CA Top Priority Bills Signed into Law

As noted in previous updates, the AIA California Board of Directors took positions on almost 60 bills introduced by the California Legislature this year that they identified as having an impact on the profession in some form. Those bills covered a wide variety of topics from adaptive reuse, to streamlined housing approvals, to embodied carbon, to permit processing, and so many more.

Additionally, we as an organization identified a few priority bills that had the most direct impact on the profession of architecture in 2023. We are happy to report that all three of our top priority bills were signed into law by Governor Newsom: AB 342 (Valencia) – Demographic Information Collections; AB 334 (Rubio) – Government Code 1090 Conflict of Interest Clarification; and AB 529 (Gabriel and Haney) – Adaptive Reuse.

Here is a deeper dive on each:

  1. AB 342 (Valencia): Demographic Information Collection – This bill, sponsored by AIA California, will allow the California Architect Board (Board) to ask licensees to provide demographic information to the Board for the purposes of aiding in our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) efforts.

    AIA California has made it a priority to champion a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion to create an equitable community for everyone within the architectural profession. The collection of this demographic information is essential to these EDI efforts, as it allows for research to be done to understand attrition and recruitment patterns impacting the profession. From there we can better develop strategies to address any patterns that create barriers to entry within the profession.

    For more information, click here.

    For curated resources for individuals, firms, and AIA chapters to build a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion in California’s architectural profession click here.

  2. AB 529 (Gabriel and Haney): Adaptive Reuse – Directs state agencies to modernize and update existing building standards for adaptive reuse construction and encourages local jurisdictions to promote infill development in order to be awarded a pro-housing designation by the state.

    These efforts are seen as complimentary to AIA California’s own efforts to institute 7 new chapters of the International Existing Building Code into California’s Existing Building Code, which the California Building Standards Commission passed unanimously earlier this year. The international Existing Building Code provides three options, known as compliance paths, from which to choose: Prescriptive; Work Area; and Performance.  All three paths lead to safe, code-compliant buildings, but their differences allow design professionals significant latitude to find a code path best suited for a particular building challenge. The existing California code includes only the Prescriptive path effectively limiting potential for adaptive reuse. Read more about that here.

  3. AB 334 (Rubio): Government Code 1090 Conflict of Interest Clarification – As a result of several court decisions beginning in 2015, persons or businesses that contract with a public agency may be subject to the state’s Conflict of Interest (COI) law, Government Code 1090 (GOV 1090), if they perform services that amount to transacting on the agency’s behalf. For example, when agencies seek to contract with architects, engineers, land surveyors, and geologists on public works infrastructure projects, these design professionals were increasingly – and inappropriately – being subjected to the terms of Government Code Section 1090 as a result of the lack of clarity in the law and case law. In consequence, well-qualified professionals have been precluded from participating in subsequent phases of work if they had any involvement in an earlier phase.

    Neither case law nor statute, prior to AB 334, had subsequently made clear what services and practices were permitted and which were not.

    In October 2020, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) provided guidance [see] to agencies and their independent contractors regarding allowable practices that the FPPC would deem to comply with GOV 1090 and not constitute a COI on the part of either party to a contract. However, prior to AB 334, complying with the FPPC’s guidance yielded no safe harbor protection for the agency nor independent contractor; this could only be achieved by requesting from the FPPC an advice/opinion letter specific to the individual project and/or contract in question [see].

    AIA California was a part of the support coalition led by the American Council of Engineering Companies, California that pushed for the passage of AB 342, which codifies the FPPC’s guidance and grants safe harbor protections against criminal, civil, and administrative enforcement to those who abide by it.

Stay tuned for more updates on this year’s legislative results in future updates. Click here for more information on the final results on all the bills AIA CA took positions on this year.  If you have any questions on any of these bills, you can reach out to AIA CA Director of Government Relations, Scott Terrell.

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