Monday, January 30, 2012
Salvation: Engineers and City Solve Seismic Woes
The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
When I began working with the Baptist Church at 25th and Jefferson to find a solution to their seismic woes, the way forward was not entirely clear. Our proposed HB58 was adamantly opposed by the Structural Engineers Association of Utah and area building inspectors. The Legislature was interested in this issue but was sharply divided on which policy decision was best.
Fortunately, despite our disagreements on HB58, we all could agree that we still needed to find a solution that worked for the Baptist Church.
The circumstances of the Baptist Church don't fit neatly into the box created by statute to deal with seismic upgrades. Thus, my involvement to try to change the state statute. Although my proposal was a principled approach, it was described as "trying to nail a wall tack with a sledge hammer." Regardless, my ultimate goal was to provide some relief to my constituents. This is why I am excited to see the SEAU and Ogden City step up to the challenge and craft a unique answer to this perplexing problem.
After reviewing the matter, the SEAU has agreed to provide pro bono services to the Church to allow for a seismic survey and determine what needs to be done to help upgrade the property. This service is a significant savings to the church who would otherwise have been forced to fork out thousands of dollars for the review. The best part is that Ogden City has agreed to issue a permit to have the roof completed without siesmic upgrades happening first. In exchange, the Church will agree to put an "incremental" plan in place where they will agree to make upgrades as funding becomes available.
This solution gets to the rub of my argument at committe: seismic upgrades are an economic issue. If re-roofing forces people to make upgrades, it can bankrupt them due to the cost. Rather than go bankrupt, people will neglect making repairs to the roof and risk damage to their building. Essentially, the current law is an unfunded personal mandate. However, providing for an incremental plan addresses the affordability problem. It allows for upgrades to be made as funds become available to do so. This is a win-win for all involved.
I would like to thank Steve Patrick at Ogden City, Chris Kimball with Kimball Engineering, and Barry Welliver with the SEAU for forging a way forward that is both palatable and common-sensed. The Baptist Church and the community at large appreciate their efforts.