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Sprinkler-Law Revisions Clear Way for Passage

November 20, 1986|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

Glendale officials expect a law that could add millions of dollars to construction costs, raise apartment rents and increase the price of condominiums to be enacted next week.

City Council is expected to approve an ordinance requiring that sprinklers be installed in every room and hallway of new buildings, except one- and two-family homes.

"This is one of the more important ordinances this city will enact," said Mayor Larry Zarian, who said he fears the public is unaware of the issue.

The proposal was met with some opposition when it was first introduced to City Council in May. Because of the controversy, the council turned the issue over to the Building Commission for hearings and months of study.

Panel Backed Ordinance

The Building Commission in September unanimously recommended adoption of the ordinance, which was brought back before the council on Tuesday.

Much of the controversy surrounding the issue died in the last few months as revisions to the proposed law were made after a series of meetings among city officials, Chamber of Commerce representatives and builders.

Building Commission Chairman James Pollard, a builder and a landlord, said developers have realized that a strict sprinkler law "is a bullet we are going to have to bite."

City fire officials originally had proposed that the sprinkler law be applied to all existing buildings of at least four stories in the city. But landlords, tenants and condominium owners complained that such a requirement would be far too expensive and cause rents to increase $35 to $70 a month, Pollard said.

The retroactive provisions of the ordinance eventually were dropped, but city officials say that later adoption of such provisions is still being studied. Glendale Fire Chief John Montenero had argued that installation of sprinklers in all buildings would reduce fire losses 80% to 90%.

Exempts Existing Structures

The revised ordinance recommended by the Building Commission exempts existing buildings and any new buildings of less than 1,000 square feet. It also reduces construction requirements, such as that for insulation, to offset some of the costs of installing sprinklers.

Chamber of Commerce officials had recommended that buildings smaller than 7,500 square feet and apartment buildings under three stories be exempted from the sprinkler requirement. However, the Building Commission recommended the more comprehensive requirements.

In anticipation of the passage of the ordinance, the council this week allocated $60,000 in capital-improvement funds to install fire sprinklers in the Police Facilities Building, which is being renovated. City officials also have authorized installation of fire sprinklers at the Glendale Central Library and the Brand Library.

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