CA Community Tables Sprinkler Law

Originally published by: Siskiyou DailyJanuary 23, 2012

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An agenda item regarding the law that requires all homes built after January 2011 to be equipped with fire sprinklers became a topic of discussion at Thursday’s Yreka City Council meeting, though no action was taken.

Yreka City Manager Steve Baker told the council that staff has determined the installation of a second water meter and line for fire sprinklers in new homes is the most feasible option for the city.

These additional water lines would only be used in the event of a home fire.

The action item on the agenda called for an amendment of Development Impact Fees in the Yreka Municipal Code so home builders are not billed extra by the city for installation of meters for the fire sprinklers.

Council member David Simmen asked Baker why a separate meter and line would be required for the installation of fire sprinklers.

Baker explained that anti-freeze and other chemicals are added to fire sprinkler water lines.

Other members of the council inquired about the possibility of installing a single water meter with a higher water capacity.

“Staff has determined that the dual system makes the most sense,” Baker responded.

“This is one of the things hindering construction in this county,” council member Bryan Foster said.

Baker stated that this could be avoided by amending the Development Impact Fee so home builders would not be billed extra for the second meter.

Foster asked what the result might be if the city did not enforce this law in Yreka.

“We cannot do that,” council member Rob Bicego replied.

The fire sprinkler law was adopted by the California Building Standard Commission, and compliance is mandatory.

Council members inquired about the costs burdened by the city from the installation of these second meters.

Yreka Finance Director Rhetta Hogan said during a follow-up interview that this would not be a financial hardship for the city because the fire sprinkler lines would be used rarely.

Ultimately, the council voted to direct staff to invite a building official to a future meeting to answer more questions regarding the fire sprinkler law, and potential costs to the city if the council votes to amend the Development Impact Fees.

Meter size and water billing

At the meeting, the topic of water meters prompted a discussion about the city’s method of billing water customers based on both meter size and consumption.

“Why does meter size determine fees?” Simmen asked. “Why can’t the city bill based on consumption?”

Baker responded, “The meter size determines water capacity.”

Baker used the example of dial-up Internet connections compared to high-speed Internet connections. Internet users with high-speed service get faster connections. 

Hogan said that engineers have studied Yreka’s water system and the fixed rate based on meter size and the amount of consumption “has been deemed the most equitable way to allocate the fixed cost of our system.”  

 

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