Opinion

Caputi: Mandates are not the solution

Posted 12/19/22

On Dec. 6, I was proud to be a part of the Scottsdale City Council as we unanimously agreed to adopt the latest updated 2021 building codes. This puts us at the cutting edge of most cities of the Valley and across the United States. Scottsdale is a leader in sustainability and adopting the updated codes means we’ll remain out in front.

This story requires a subscription for $5.99/month.

Already have an account? Log in to continue.

Current print subscribers can create a free account by clicking here.

Otherwise, click here to subscribe.

To Our Valued Readers –

Visitors to our website will be limited to five stories per month unless they opt to subscribe. The five stories do not include our exclusive content written by our journalists.

For $5.99, less than 20 cents a day, digital subscribers will receive unlimited access to YourValley.net, including exclusive content from our newsroom and access to our Daily Independent e-edition.

Our commitment to balanced, fair reporting and local coverage provides insight and perspective not found anywhere else.

Your financial commitment will help to preserve the kind of honest journalism produced by our reporters and editors. We trust you agree that independent journalism is an essential component of our democracy. Please click here to subscribe.

Sincerely,
Charlene Bisson, Publisher, Independent Newsmedia

Please log in to continue

Log in
I am anchor
Opinion

Caputi: Mandates are not the solution

Posted

On Dec. 6, I was proud to be a part of the Scottsdale City Council as we unanimously agreed to adopt the latest updated 2021 building codes. This puts us at the cutting edge of most cities of the Valley and across the United States. Scottsdale is a leader in sustainability and adopting the updated codes means we’ll remain out in front.

As an electrical material supplier, I work with electricians in the field every day and being up to date on building codes affecting health, safety and welfare is critical.

The building codes are designed to address issues related to health, safety and welfare, not for overreaching regulations more appropriate for zoning, or issues having to do with individual preferences and choices. It’s appropriate to mandate things like sprinklers, which save lives, but not cabinet configurations or electrical outlets.

On the same night, we were also asked to consider adopting the 2021 International Green Construction Code as mandatory. I was the only dissenting vote on more regulations, and I stand by my dissent. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what the IgCC is and how it is used (and misused).

The city needs to balance costs and benefits, which haven’t been analyzed for adopting this additional new code, despite the lofty assertions heard. We should not be interfering with the free market. Government shouldn’t be micromanaging private businesses and individual choices.

The experts at the international code development organizations do not recommend mandatory adoption of the IgCC. It was developed as an overlay guide, which I support, not as a mandatory code.

Almost no other jurisdiction in the country has made it mandatory, and there are reasons for this:

  • We’re already abiding by many of the provisions in the IgCC because end-users are asking for it and builders are providing it. The free market is solving the issue on its own — we don’t need an expensive and burdensome government mandate. Almost every major development project offers to comply voluntarily. Also, technology is changing rapidly. The free market responds much more quickly than government bureaucracy. We’re forcing everyone to pay for things they may never use.
  • We’ll need more staff to enforce the provisions now that they are mandatory. City expenses for additional employees to administer the new code requirements will be significant and permitting times will increase. Builders are already struggling with rising costs and issues with the supply chain- the codes shouldn’t make this worse.
  • We can make the IgCC mandatory for zoning bonuses but voluntary for other commercial buildings. We just adopted the updated International Energy Code and we already require LEED certification on government buildings. We currently do not grant zoning bonuses without it. Mandatory IgCC makes no sense for smaller buildings in many provisions. For example, every new commercial building over 5,000 square feet will now have to implement solar technology. The payback to the building owner will be decades - it makes no economic sense.

We shouldn’t be increasing red tape, bureaucracy and costs just to say we’re leading on this issue — there should be measurable benefits if we are going to enforce a mandate on private citizens.

Making claims like “costs will be negligible”, “it doesn’t cost anything if it’s known upfront”, and “it’s the developer that’s paying for it” are naïve and untrue. Making the IgCC mandatory will add at least 10-20% to most projects.

Developers will pass the increased costs through to end users, making housing even less affordable, when we are already struggling with soaring housing costs (37% of our residents are housing cost-burdened.)

Commercial lease rates will also increase, affecting Scottsdale businesses and employees. If we really care about having a meaningful impact on climate, rather than simply bragging rights, we’d be looking at housing options that use land and water more efficiently.

People email the city council every day saying they don’t want Scottsdale to become California, but that’s exactly what mandating the IgCC on top of our already rigorous building codes will do.

The incremental savings in utility bills to a homeowner over a lifetime will not come close to making up for the increased costs of mandating the IgCC, which we will all pay for with increased taxes, rents, and housing costs.

I believe we need to do everything we can to be a sustainable, resilient city, but mandating the IgCC is not the correct policy to achieve this.

Tammy Caputi, Scottsdale City Council