Cal Balcony Collapse Spurs Greater Builder Oversight

     SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — California Gov. Jerry Brown tightened state oversight of building contractors by signing a bill Thursday spawned by the 2015 Berkeley balcony collapse that killed six students.
     Senate Bill 465 requires licensed contractors to report to state regulators regarding crimes related to their trade and also tasks the California Building Standards Commission with determining whether statutory changes to California’s building code laws are needed.
     State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, proposed the bill in the aftermath of the tragic balcony collapse. Thirteen people, six of them Irish exchange students, plummeted more than 40 feet when the rotted balcony at the Library Gardens complex near the University of California, Berkeley campus collapsed during a birthday party.
     It was later revealed that the company that built the apartment complex had a series of prior construction defects settlements totaling more than $26 million.
     The firm, Segue Construction, and other construction firms are not required by law to report the settlements to the California Contractors License Board. In April, the regulator determined that the contractors working on the Berkeley apartment complex violated building codes and recommended the suspension or revocation of their licenses.
     Brown signed the bill during a ceremony that was attended by the family of one of the students killed in the collapse.
     “This bill is an important step toward preventing another tragedy,” Brown said in a statement.
     Hancock said she hopes the bill helps ease the pain of the families involved in the accident.
     “It is my fervent hope that this measure brings at least some comfort to the families of the young people killed when this balcony collapsed,” Hancock said in a statement.
     The city of Berkeley has already tightened its building codes for balconies on buildings and apartments with three or more residential units.

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