California’s legislature has passed two
highly anticipated bills — one to address the federal
Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act and another to help
combat unlicensed contractors.
Assembly Bill 1020 by Bill Emmerson, R-Redlands, and Fiona Ma,
D-San Francisco, states that all public pools built on or after
Jan. 1, 2010, must have two drains per pump, installed as
specified. Existing public pools must be brought into compliance by
July 1, 2010.
It is hoped that the law, if signed by Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger, will reduce the confusion caused by officials
interpreting VGB differently. Some inspectors were demanding that
new products be installed on already compliant pools.
“I think having the bill in place will give them something
firm and concise to work with,” said Mike Geremia, president
of SPEC, the
lobbying organization for California’s pool and spa
Single-drain pools, unless the drains are unblockable, must be
outfitted with one of the following to protect against entrapment:
a safety vacuum release system; suction-limiting vent system with
tamper-resistant atmospheric opening; gravity-drainage system with
collector tank; automatic pump shut-off system; or another system
deemed equally or more effective, in accordance with federal law.
All must meet standards specified in the state bill.
Public pools brought into compliance with VGB between Dec. 19,
2007, and Jan. 1, 2010, will not require further work — nor
will public wading pools built before Jan. 1, 2010, that complied
with the California Pool and Spa Safety Act.
Public pool owners also must complete and file paperwork with
their local departments of environmental health. The signed forms
will contain the license number of the qualified professional
certifying that the information is true “to the best of his
or her knowledge” — a condition requested by SPEC.
“We’re more than happy to certify as to what we know
we did,” SPEC spokesman Peter Conlin said. “We just
don’t want to certify as to what anybody else did.”
While drain covers are not specifically named in the bill, the
language does state that public pools must comply with
ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 as it reads on Dec. 31, 2009, which
includes compliant drain covers.
The unlicensed-contractor legislation, Assembly Bill 370,
primarily authored by Mike Eng, D-Monterey Park, imposes harsher
fines and sentences.
“Our goal in supporting the bill is to increase those
penalties to where it’s more than a slap on the wrist,”
Currently, a first offense brings imprisonment in county jail of
six months or less, a fine of $1,000 or less, or both.
If the bill becomes law, fines can climb as high as $5,000,
while jail time remains the same. The bill raises the penalties for
second and third offenses as well.
The law takes a more passive stance, however, against those who
hire unlicensed contractors. Even pool owners who are aware of the
contractors’ status will be considered victims entitled to
The governor had until Oct. 3 to sign AB 1020 and Sept. 30 to
sign AB 370. As of press time, SPEC expected the bills to become