Code Section Group

Health and Safety Code - HSC

DIVISION 13. HOUSING [17000 - 19997]

  ( Division 13 enacted by Stats. 1939, Ch. 60. )

PART 2.5. STATE BUILDING STANDARDS [18901 - 18949.31]

  ( Part 2.5 repealed and added by Stats. 1979, Ch. 1152. )

CHAPTER 4.5. Guidelines for Straw-Bale Structures [18944.30 - 18944.41]

  ( Chapter 4.5 added by Stats. 1995, Ch. 941, Sec. 1. )

ARTICLE 1. General Provisions and Definitions [18944.30 - 18944.33]
  ( Article 1 added by Stats. 1995, Ch. 941, Sec. 1. )

18944.30.
  

The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a)  There is an urgent need for low-cost, energy-efficient housing in California.

(b)  The cost of conventional lumber-framed housing has risen due to a shortage of construction-grade lumber.

(c)  Straw is an annually renewable source of cellulose that can be used as an energy-efficient substitute for stud-framed wall construction.

(d)  The state has mandated that the burning of rice straw be greatly reduced.

(e)  As a result of the mandated burning reduction, growers are experimenting with alternative straw management practices. Various methods of straw incorporation into the soil are the most widely used alternatives. The two most common methods are nonflood incorporation and winter flood incorporation. Economically viable off-farm uses for rice straw are not yet available.

(f)  Winter flooding of rice fields encourages the natural decomposition of rice straw and provides valuable waterfowl habitat. According to the Central Valley Habitat Joint Venture component of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, in California’s Central Valley, over 400,000 acres of enhanced agricultural lands are needed to restore the depleted migratory waterfowl populations of the Pacific flyway. Flooded rice fields are a key and integral part of the successful restoration of historic waterfowl and shorebird populations.

(g)  Winter flooding of rice fields provides significant waterfowl habitat benefits and should be especially encouraged in areas where there is minimal potential to impact salmon as a result of surface water diversions.

(h)  An economically viable market for rice straw bales could result from the use of rice straw bales in housing construction.

(i)  Practicing architects and engineers have determined that the statutory guidelines established by Chapter 941 of the Statutes of 1995 contain specific requirements that they believe are either unnecessary or detrimental. Some of the requirements are considered costly and severely restrict the development of straw-bale housing.

(j)  Statutory guidelines for the use of straw-bale housing would significantly benefit energy conservation, natural resources, low-cost housing, agriculture, and fisheries in California.

(k)  Tests and experience with straw-bale construction demonstrate that it is a strong, durable, and thermally superior building system that deserves a larger role in modern construction.

(Amended by Stats. 2002, Ch. 31, Sec. 1. Effective April 26, 2002. Inoperative on date prescribed in Section 18944.41.)

18944.31.
  

(a)  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the guidelines established by this chapter shall apply to the construction of all structures that use baled straw as a loadbearing or nonloadbearing material within any city or county that adopted the guidelines established by Chapter 941 of the Statutes of 1995 prior to January 1, 2002. This requirement shall not preclude the city or county from making changes or modifications to the guidelines pursuant to subdivision (b). Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the guidelines established by this chapter shall not become operative in a city or county that has not adopted the guidelines prior to January 1, 2002, unless and until the legislative body of the city or county makes an express finding that the application of these guidelines within the city or county is reasonably necessary because of local conditions and the city or county files a copy of that finding with the department.

(b)  A city or county may, by ordinance or regulation, make any changes or modifications in the guidelines contained in this chapter as it determines are reasonably necessary because of local conditions, provided the city or county files a copy of the changes or modifications and the express findings for the changes or modifications with the department. No change or modification of that type shall become effective or operative for any purpose until the finding and the change or modification has been filed with the department.

(c)  Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as increasing or decreasing the authority to approve or disapprove of alternative construction methods pursuant to the State Housing Law, Part 1.5 (commencing with Section 17910) or the California Building Standards Code, Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations.

(d)  It is the intent of the Legislature that the statutory guidelines of this chapter serve as an interim measure pending the evaluation of straw bales as a construction material through the normal processes used for the testing and listing of building materials, the determination of construction standards, and the adoption of those materials and construction standards into the California Building Standards Code.

(Amended by Stats. 2002, Ch. 31, Sec. 2. Effective April 26, 2002. Inoperative on date prescribed in Section 18944.41.)

18944.32.
  

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as an exemption from Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 5500) of, or Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 6700) of, Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code relative to preparation of plans, drawings, specifications, or calculations under the direct supervision of a licensed architect or civil engineer, for the construction of structures that deviate from the conventional framing requirements for wood-frame construction.

(Added by Stats. 1995, Ch. 941, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 1996.)

18944.33.
  

For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms are defined as follows:

(a)  “Bales” means rectangular compressed blocks of straw, bound by strings or wire.

(b)  “Department” means the Department of Housing and Community Development.

(c)  “Flakes” means slabs of straw removed from an untied bale. Flakes are used to fill small gaps between the ends of stacked bales.

(d)  “Laid flat” refers to stacking bales so that the sides with the largest cross-sectional area are horizontal and the longest dimension of this area is parallel with the wall plane.

(e)  “Laid on edge” refers to stacking bales so that the sides with the largest cross-sectional area are vertical and the longest dimension of this area is horizontal and parallel with the wall plane.

(f)  “Loadbearing” refers to plastered straw-bale walls that bear the dead and live loads of the roof and any upper floor.

(g)  “Nonloadbearing” refers to plastered straw-bale walls that bear only their own weight, such as infill panels within some type of post and beam structure.

(h)  “Plaster” means lime, gypsum, lime cement, or cement plasters, as defined by the California Building Standards Code, or earthen plaster with fiber reinforcing.

(i)  “Straw” means the dry stems of cereal grains left after the seed heads have been substantially removed.

(Amended by Stats. 2002, Ch. 31, Sec. 3. Effective April 26, 2002. Inoperative on date prescribed in Section 18944.41.)

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