Chapter 5.2 Code Requirements

5.2.10 Purpose of this Chapter

The purpose of this Chapter is to provide standards to preserve the public peace, health and safety by regulating the design and construction of buildings and structures, including electrical, mechanical and plumbing components. The design, construction, installation, quality of materials, location, operation and maintenance of equipment and appliances shall conform to all requirements set forth herein. Consistent with this purpose, the provisions of this Code are intended and always have been intended to confer a benefit on the community as a whole and are not intended to establish a duty of care toward any particular person.

5.2.20 Adoption and Application of Codes

A.    All portions of the California Building Standards Code apply in La Habra Heights, except as provided in this Municipal Code. The Building Standards Code includes:

1.    2022 California Administrative Code (Part 1);

2.    2022 California Building Code including Chapter 1, Division II. (Part 2, which is based on the 2018 International Building Code);

3.    2022 California Residential Code (Part 2.5, based on the 2021 International Residential Code) including Appendices AH and AX;

4.    2022 California Electrical Code (Part 3, based on the 2020 National Electrical Code);

5.    2022 California Mechanical Code (Part 4, based on the 2022 Uniform Mechanical Code);

6.    2022 California Plumbing Code (Part 5, based upon the 2022 Uniform Plumbing Code);

7.    2022 California Energy Code (Part 6);

8.    2022 California Historical Building Code (Part 8);

9.    2022 California Existing Building Code (Part 10);

10.    2022 California Green Building Standards (Part 11, known as the "CALGreen" Code);

11.    2022 California Referenced Standards Code (Part 12);

12.    1997 Uniform Code for the Abatement of Dangerous Buildings published by the International Conference of Building Officials ("ICBO");

13.    1997 Uniform Housing Code published by ICBO;

14.    2021 Property Maintenance Code published by the International Code Council (ICC);

15.    The Los Angeles County Grading Code by reference updated by the County of Los Angeles in 2017.

B.    Copies of Codes Available. In accordance with Health and Safety Code Section 18942(d), one (1) copy of an up-to-date version of said codes will remain on file with the City Clerk.

C.    Tests. Whenever there is insufficient evidence of compliance with the provisions of this Code, or to substantiate claims for alternate materials or methods of construction, the Building Official may require tests to be made by an approved agency at the expense of the owner or the owner’s agent. Test methods shall be as specified by this Code. If there is no appropriate test method specified in this Code, the Building Official shall determine and specify the test procedure.

D.    Electrical Utility Release. When deemed appropriate by the Building Official, electric utilities may be released. Release of electric utility may be done prior to the building final for testing and inspection purposes. The Building Official shall retain the right to revoke the release of electric utility for just cause, and may have the utility disconnected at the earliest availability of the utility purveyor. Attempting to occupy prior to issuance of a certificate of completed construction, whether temporary or final, may result in disconnection of the utilities. It is unlawful to energize any electrical wiring coming under the provisions of this Code, until such wiring has been inspected and approved. However, permission may be given to furnish temporary electric current for a length of time not exceeding thirty (30) days, or other reasonable period, if the Building Official determines that such electrical wiring may be used safely for such purpose, and that there exists a necessity for such use.

E.    Authority to Disconnect Electric Utility. The Building Official may disconnect or order discontinuance of electric utility when used without a required permit or found to be a hazard. The Building Official shall have the power to disconnect or to order the discontinuance of electric utility service as a means of preventing, restraining, correcting or abating any violation of this Code. The electrical service shall remain disconnected or discontinued until the Building Official authorizes service resumption.

F.    Right of Entry. Whenever it is necessary to make an inspection in connection with the application for a permit or other approval, or whenever there is reasonable cause to believe that there exists any condition which is hazardous, unsafe or dangerous, the Building Official is authorized to enter and inspect. If the premises are occupied, the Building Official shall request entry explaining the reasons therefor, and if such premises are unoccupied, shall first make a reasonable effort to locate the person having control of the premises and request entry. If the person having control of the premises cannot be found or if entry is refused, the Building Official shall have recourse to every remedy provided by law to secure lawful entry and inspect the premises.

If the Building Official has reasonable cause to believe that conditions are so hazardous as to require immediate inspection to safeguard the public health or safety, the Building Official shall have the right to immediately enter and inspect such premises. If the premises are occupied, the Building Official shall first present credentials to the occupant and demand entry, explaining the reasons therefor and the purpose of the inspection.

No person shall fail or refuse, after proper demand, to promptly permit the Building Official to make any inspection provided for by this Code. Any person violating this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

G.    Stop Work Orders. Whenever any work is performed contrary to the provisions of this Code, the Building Official may order the work stopped. Any persons so ordered shall immediately stop work until authorized to resume.

H.    Use Violations. Whenever any equipment or appliance is determined to be dangerous the Building Official may make an investigation and order such use discontinued. The use shall immediately be discontinued until authorized to resume. (Ord. 2022-07 § 2; Ord. 2019-03 § 2(D); Ord. 2016-05 § 2(D); Ord. 2013-05 § 2; Ord. 2010-04 § 2; Ord. 2008-02 § 1 (Exh. A))

5.2.30 Permit and Plan Review Requirements

The Building Official shall enforce permit requirements in accordance with the policies and procedures approved and implemented by the City Manager. When required by the Building Official to verify compliance with this Code, additional calculations, geological or engineering reports and other required data must be submitted for plan review.

A.    Permit Fees. All plan review fees and permit fees shall be as adopted by resolution. In the event that any person obtains a permit but no portion of the work covered by the permit has been commenced, and such permit is subsequently cancelled, the permittee may submit a written request for a refund of permit fees.

B.    Refunds. Permit fees may be refunded to the degree such exceeds actual costs of issuance and cancellation, provided the request has been submitted within one year from the date of cancellation or expiration of the permit. No portion of the plan checking fee shall be refunded, unless no review has been performed, in which case ninety (90) percent of the plan checking fee shall be refunded.

5.2.40 Use and Occupancy

No construction shall be used or occupied, and no change in any occupancy classification shall be made until approved by the Building Official. Upon finalizing a building permit, a certificate of completed construction shall be issued by the Building Official.

A.    Use and Occupancy Approvals. Approval of a building, structure, device, or premises, or portion thereof for use shall not be construed as approval of a violation of the provisions of this Code.

B.    Suspension of Approvals. The Building Official may suspend or revoke any previously issued approval or certificate whenever it is determined that the approval or certificate was issued in error. Any such certificate so issued shall be surrendered to the Building Official.

C.    Unpermitted Structures or Devices. No person shall own, use, occupy or maintain any unpermitted structure or device that requires a permit.

D.    Change in Use. Changes in the character or use of a building shall not be made except pursuant to Article 7 of this Code.

E.    Issuance of a Certificate of Completed Construction. When the building, structure, device or premises has passed final inspection, and the required fees have been paid, the Building Official shall issue a certificate of completed construction.

F.    Issuance of a Temporary Certificate of Completed Construction. If the Building Official finds that no substantial hazard will result from occupancy of any building or structure before completed, a temporary certificate of completed construction may be issued.

G.    Continued Use of Unpermitted and/or Noncomplying Conditions. At the discretion of the Building Official, a certificate of continued use of unpermitted and/or noncomplying condition(s) may be issued provided that the property owner establishes that the condition(s) were not created by the current owner, the current owner had no knowledge that the condition(s) were unpermitted and/or noncomplying at the time of purchase and the condition(s) do not pose a hazard to persons or property. Permits may be required as provided in this Code.

5.2.50 Inspections

The Building Official shall conduct inspections in accordance with the policies and procedures approved and implemented by the City Manager. Any building, device or premises that remains in an unfinished state for an unreasonable period of time, or is otherwise deemed a nuisance, may be declared substandard. An "unreasonable period of time" shall be defined as eighteen (18) months for residential construction and thirty-six (36) months for all other construction. Residential construction shall specifically include detached garages and similar accessory structures that serve a residential or agricultural use.

5.2.60 Violations/Penalties

A.    Any person or entity that violates any provision of this Article is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable pursuant to Article 8 unless such violation is otherwise declared to be an infraction. Each such person shall be guilty of a separate offense for each and every day or portion thereof during which any violation of any of the provisions of this Code is committed, continued or permitted.

B.    Whenever any work has been commenced without a permit as required by this Municipal Code, a special investigation shall be made prior to the issuance of the permit. The planning fee collected for each permit so investigated shall include the cost of the investigation. The planning fee shall be specified by resolution.

C.    If the Building Official issues an order to a person who fails to comply with the order within fifteen (15) days following the due date for compliance, a noncompliance fee shall be collected. The noncompliance fee shall not be imposed unless the order states that a failure to comply within 15 days after the specified compliance date will result in the fee being imposed.

D.    Existing equipment and/or appliances lawfully installed prior to the effective date of this Code may have their existing use, maintenance or repair continued if the use, maintenance or repair is in accordance with the original design and location and is not a hazard to life, health, or property.

E.    In addition to the violations and/or penalties specified in this Article, the City is empowered to recover all costs incurred in enforcing any provisions of this Article, to the fullest extent permissible under law. The procedures for recovery of costs shall be the procedures for abatement of a public nuisance prescribed in Article 8.

F.    The City may bring appropriate civil and criminal action or initiate an administrative proceeding for recovery of costs or other abatement of a nuisance pursuant to any other provision of law. The use of this Chapter by the City to abate a nuisance shall not bar the use of any other procedure authorized by State law. All remedies of the City are cumulative and the use of any remedy shall not bar the use of any other remedy with respect to the same or another property.

5.2.70 Intent and Purpose

The intent and purpose of this Chapter is to adopt an expedited, streamlined solar permitting process that complies with the Solar Rights Act and AB 2188 (Chapter 521, Statutes 2014) to achieve timely and cost-effective installations of small residential rooftop solar energy systems. This Chapter is designed to encourage the use of solar systems by removing unreasonable barriers, minimizing costs to property owners and the City, and expanding the ability of property owners to install solar energy systems. This Chapter allows the City to achieve these goals while protecting the public health and safety. (Ord. 2015-02 § 1)

5.2.71 Definitions

A.    "Association" means a nonprofit corporation or unincorporated association created for the purpose of managing a common interest development.

B.    "Building Department" means the Building and Safety Division for the City of La Habra Heights.

C.    "Building Official" means the Building Official for the City of La Habra Heights.

D.    "City" means the City of La Habra Heights.

E.    "Electronic submittal" means the utilization of one (1) or more of the following:

1.    Email.

2.    The Internet.

3.    Facsimile.

F.    "Expedited permitting," and "expedited review," means the process outlined in Section 5.2.75 entitled "Expedited Permit Review and Inspection Requirements."

G.    A "feasible method to satisfactorily mitigate or avoid the specific, adverse impact" includes, but is not limited to, any cost-effective method, condition or mitigation imposed by the City on another similarly situated application in a prior successful application for a similar permit.

H.    "Board of Appeals" means the Board of Appeals for the City of La Habra Heights.

I.    "Small residential rooftop solar energy system" means all of the following:

1.    A solar energy system that is not larger than ten (10) kilowatts alternating current nameplate rating or thirty (30) kilowatts thermal.

2.    A solar energy system that conforms to all applicable State fire, structural, electrical, and other building codes as adopted or amended by the City of La Habra Heights and all State of California health and safety standards.

3.    A solar energy system that is installed on a single or duplex family dwelling.

4.    A solar panel or module array that does not exceed the maximum legal building height as defined by the City of La Habra Heights.

J.    "Solar energy system" means either of the following:

1.    Any solar collector or other solar energy device whose primary purpose is to provide for the collection, storage, and distribution of solar energy for space heating, space cooling, electric generation, or water heating.

2.    Any structural design feature of a building whose primary purpose is to provide for the collection, storage, and distribution of solar energy for electricity generation, space heating, space cooling or water heating.

K.    "Specific, adverse impact" means a significant, quantifiable, direct and unavoidable impact, based on objective, identified and written public health or safety standards, policies or conditions as they existed on the date the application was deemed complete. (Ord. 2015-02 § 1)

5.2.72 Applicability

This Chapter applies to the permitting of all small residential rooftop solar energy systems in the City. Small residential rooftop solar energy systems legally established or permitted prior to the effective date of this Chapter are not subject to the requirements of this Chapter unless physical modifications or alterations are undertaken that materially change the size, type, or components of a small rooftop energy system in such a way as to require new permitting. Routine operation and maintenance or like-kind replacements shall not require a permit. (Ord. 2015-02 § 1)

5.2.73 Solar Energy System Requirements

A.    All solar energy systems shall meet applicable health and safety standards and requirements imposed by the City and the State of California.

B.    Solar energy systems for heating water in single-family residences and for heating water in commercial or swimming pool applications shall be certified by an accredited listing agency as defined by the California Plumbing and Mechanical Code.

C.    Solar energy systems for producing electricity shall meet all applicable safety and performance standards established by the California Electrical Code, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and accredited testing laboratories such as Underwriters Laboratories and, where applicable, rules of the Public Utilities Commission regarding safety and reliability. (Ord. 2015-02 § 1)

5.2.74 Duties of Building Department and Building Official

A.    All documents required for the submission of an expedited small residential rooftop solar energy system application shall be made available on the City’s publicly accessible website.

B.    Electronic submittal of the required permit application and documents via email or facsimile shall be made available to all small residential rooftop solar energy system permit applicants. Website applications may be allowed at such time in the future that the technology is made available by the City.

C.    An applicant’s electronic signature shall be accepted on all forms, applications, and other documents in lieu of a wet signature.

D.    The Building Department shall adopt a standard plan and checklist of all requirements with which small residential rooftop solar energy systems shall comply to be eligible for expedited review.

E.    The small residential rooftop solar system permit process, standard plans, and checklist shall substantially conform to the recommendations for expedited permitting, including the checklist and standard contained in the most current version of the California Solar Permitting Guidebook adopted by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

F.    All fees prescribed for the permitting of small residential rooftop solar energy systems must comply with Government Code Sections 65850.55 and 66015 and Health and Safety Code Section 17951. (Ord. 2015-02 § 1)

5.2.75 Expedited Permit Review and Inspection Requirements

A.    The Building Department shall adopt an administrative, nondiscretionary review process to expedite the approval of small residential rooftop solar energy system applications within thirty (30) days of adoption of this chapter. For an application for a small residential rooftop solar energy system that meets the requirements of the approved checklist and standard plan, the Building Department shall issue a building permit or other nondiscretionary permit within three (3) business days. The Building Official may require an applicant to apply for a use permit if the official finds, based on substantial evidence, that the solar energy system could have a specific, adverse impact upon the public health and safety. Such decisions may be appealed to the Board of Appeals.

B.    Review of the application shall be limited to the Building Official’s review of whether the applicant meets local, State and Federal health and safety requirements.

C.    If a use permit is required, the Building Official may deny an application for the use permit if the official makes written findings based upon substantive evidence in the record that the proposed installation would have a specific, adverse impact upon public health or safety and there is no feasible method to satisfactorily mitigate or avoid the specific, adverse impact. Such findings shall include the basis for the rejection of the potential feasible alternative for preventing the adverse impact. Such decisions may be appealed to the Board of Appeals.

D.    Any condition imposed on an application shall be designed to mitigate the specific, adverse impact upon health and safety at the lowest possible cost. The City shall use its best efforts to ensure that the selected method, condition, or mitigation meets the conditions of Civil Code Sections 714(d)(1)(A) and (B).

E.    The City shall not condition the approval of an application on the approval of an association as defined in Civil Code Section 4080.

F.    If an application for a small residential rooftop solar energy system is deemed incomplete, a written correction notice detailing all deficiencies in the application and any additional information or documentation required to be eligible for expedited permitting shall be sent to the applicant for resubmission.

G.    Only one (1) inspection shall be required and performed by the Building Department for small residential rooftop solar energy systems eligible for expedited review.

H.    The inspection shall be done in a timely manner and should include consolidated inspections. An inspection will be scheduled within two (2) business days of a request.

I.    If a small residential rooftop solar energy system fails inspection, a subsequent inspection is authorized but need not conform to the requirements of this Chapter. (Ord. 2015-02 § 1)