Glendale Council looks to modernize building codes

By Mark Carlisle
Independent Newsmedia

Glendale City Council will soon vote on updated building codes designed to implement safer practices and recognize newer technologies.

The adoption of the updated codes is routine, according to Glendale building safety official Stephen Dudley, who presented an update of the codes to Council Tuesday, Feb. 27. City staff and Glendale’s Insurance Services Offi ce recommend the adoption of the codes, which will likely be approved. The date for the vote has not yet been set. Staff would like the changes to go into effect July 1.

“The adoption of new codes gives us the ability to incorporate newer codes that recognize newer technologies that have occurred since the last codes were adopted, along with safer code practices, based on national studies and standards,” Mr. Dudley said.

Building codes are meant to ensure that buildings in the city meet the minumum requirements for safety and public health.

The new codes use the 2018 International Building Codes as a foundation and add amendments specific to Glendale. The International Building Codes are released every three years. Glendale last adopted new codes in 2012.

Mr. Dudley said adopting the codes would put Glendale in coordination with other Valley cities, most of which will be adopting the 2018 codes. He also said that it is a common practice for cities to skip a code cycle.

“It’salengthyandtime-consuming process, and of course staff has to relearn the code changes, so it’s very typical to only adopt every other code cycle,” Mr. Dudley said. “But in adopting the 2018 (codes), we’ll be keeping in step with other Valley cities, and I think that’s very important to be consistent for people when we’re trying to attract businesses and for developers doing business in Glendale.”

Mayor Jerry Weiers was glad to hear about the proposed changes.“That sounds encouraging,” he said. “Anything we can do for less confusion across city lines I think is beneficial.”

No councilmembers spoke against adopting the new codes. Vice Mayor Lauren Tolmachoff of the Yucca District and Councilman Bart Turner of the Barrel District each asked questions about their implementation.

Mr. Dudley discussed few details of the codes changes in his presentation because they are very specific and technical.

An interdepartmental committee was established to review the 2018 International Building Codes — more than 3,000 pages — and propose any city amendments. Part of the committee’s process was public outreach, including posting the new code and amendments on the city’s website with a feedback survey and holding a public meeting Feb. 7 at city hall to receive input from local stakeholders.

The group also reached out to several local groups of professionals and stakeholders: the Arizona Home Builders Association, the Arizona Multifamily Housing Association, the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, the American Institute of Architects, the Structural Engineers Association of Arizona and the Central Arizona Chapter of Arizona Building Officials.

Much of that feedback was also very specific and technical, Mr. Dudley said, but was helpful to the committee’s process.

“Coming from the Arizona Homebuilders Association, it’s a source that knows what they’re talking about, so we have to recognize that,” Mr. Dudley said.

In addition to sifting through thousands of pages of codes, the committee was tasked with creating amendments, coordinated with the Central Arizona Chapter of Arizona Building Officials, to cover Glendale’s diverse collection of buildings.

“We’re talking about codes that regulate everything from single family homes, which we have a lot of, to anything from schools and factories and even 75,000-square-foot football stadiums with retractable roofs, which we also have one of,” Mr. Dudley said. “Glendale’s an amazing city in that we have a really sophisticated mix of building types, and of course that’s what the codes have to deal with.”

Limiting the number of amendments was a goal of the committee, and Mr. Dudley said it reduced the amount from 40 pages to 30 pages.

University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale has hosted Cardinals home games since 2006. [Submitted photo]
Ms. Tolmachoff asked about that 75,000-square-foot football stadium, University of Phoenix Stadium, 1 Cardinals Drive, inquring if anything in the new codes would make it more difficult for the stadium to have temporary buildouts for special events like the Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament that it held last year. Mr. Dudley said the changes shouldn’t have any effect.

Mayor Weiers asked if the codes would impede companies coming into Glendale “wanting to take one of the much older buildings that has challenges.”

The new codes would make that process easier, Mr. Dudley said.

“This includes adoption of 2018 international existing building code, which provides a lot more options for how you deal with existing buildings in terms of recognizing existing conditions that you can’t necessarily change,” he said.

Mr. Turner inquired about a few specific amendments on the 43-page document that contained each amendment and listed the reason the committee thought the amendment was necessary. When the document returns for an official vote, the reasons will be removed.

Mr. Turner pointed to an amendment that disallowed non-water urinals in the city.

“These types of urinals require different and more frequent maintenance,” the amendment’s reason reads. “Because of field observations of these urinals and the lack of maintenance that has been observed, many of them have become insanitary.”

Mr. Turner said that the rule made sense for smaller buildings, but said that larger facilities would have the maintenance staff to properly maintain non-water urinals and could have significant water savings.

Mr. Dudley said the committee would look into setting a threshold of urinals in a facility above which the city would allow non-water urinals. Mr. Turner suggested 10 as a threshold.

The fire department will also bring forward fire code recommendations at Council workshop next month. Council will vote on building and fire code changes on the same date, not yet set.

Mark Carlisle can be reached at 623-876-2518 or

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