The Oregon Building Codes Division (BCD) sent letters April 23, 2018 to local jurisdictions (mainly cities but also some counties) that are scheduled for renewal of their building inspection program this summer.

The letters require jurisdictions to prove they are in compliance with the new rules enacted by BCD at the direction of the Oregon Deptartment of Justice (DOJ). In a nutshell, the DOJ released an opinion in February stating cities and counties who fully contract out their building inspection programs to private sector companies are delegating discretionary governmental functions in violation of the Oregon Constitution.

Below is an article that ran in yesterday’s Oregonian detailing the challenges likely to result from the changes.

The new rules will require local programs to designate a government employee as the city or county building official, and the city/county must have a certified electrical inspector on staff or under contract with another city/county. If an employee is shared by multiple jurisdictions, the employee cannot provide services to more than three cities or counties, unless a larger number of jurisdictions (four or more) work with the state to create a “regional service center.”

In addition to these new program changes, the person appointed as the local building official must be certified as a building official and A-level structural inspector. Previously, a building official was not required to hold an inspectors license to oversee an inspection program.

We are reviewing the new rules to determine how best to address the new requirements. While most (but not all) counties will safely be in compliance with the new rules, many cities will not and that could result in the county having to run the program for one or more of their cities. It is also conceivable that some of the impacted jurisdictions may pursue litigation to challenge the DOJ opinion and new rules.

Contributed by: Mike Eliason | AOC Legislative Director

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Small cities scramble as Oregon cracks down on private building inspectors

Small cities and counties in Oregon are scrambling after state officials said their building inspection programs violate the state Constitution.

Many small communities have long relied on private companies to run their building departments, including approving building plans and issuing permits. But new rules could bar that practice, busting small-town budgets or forcing cities to shut down their local building programs.

Officials say that could mean delays in communities trying to keep up with growing demand for housing.

“It’s a system that’s worked real