[MissoulaGov] Committee Update 3-9-11

Bob Jaffe BJaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us
Wed Mar 9 22:49:46 MST 2011

We had a short day of committees today. In at 10 and out at noon with a bunch of idle time in between. In PAZ we looked at the revisions to chapter 9 of the subdivision code. This is the part that gets into public works improvement guarantees. There are a number of changes to bring the policy more in line with banking practices but nothing controversial.

In Public Works we revisited the proposal to regulate low voltage wiring installations. They worked with some industry folks and revised the thing a bit to clarify that permits are not needed if there is already a building permit on the job. So if the installation is part of a construction project there is no additional permit required. This is based around the idea that there will already be an inspector looking at things so they will see if there are problems related to someone punching holes in walls or hanging wire inappropriately. They also exmpted wire that is subsequently pulled through a previously approved wire chase.
After talking for a while we agreed that wire that does not penetrate a wall or ceiling space should be exempted as well. I still don't think I can support this as it appears to be a bunch of extra regulation and fees for almost no benefit to public health and safety. The quality of work surrounding low voltage wire installations clearly could stand to see improvement but I still don't see it rising to the occassion that it needs to be regulated. Especially since the things we will be regulating only have to do with penetrations of fire walls and wire in drop ceilings needing to be tied to the hangers instead of being left laying on the tiles. The life safety risk here is extremely small.

I'll include a letter we received today that pretty much speaks to my position:

My business does not do very much in the way of wiring. Less than 1% of our business.

I received a note from a colleague stating the city was considering requiring permits in order to perform work.

While I am sure there may be public benefit for permits and inspections for some devices using low voltage wiring I’d recommend any ordinance put forth not require permits or inspections for installs for devices such as computers, printers or telephones. Example: a customer calls and says they have a new computer and need to get an employee they hired up and running. It requires an install of CAT 5 Ethernet Cable to connect to the network. My response as a vendor should not be: do you have a permit to install a computer?

Any revenue collected by the city for these types of installs would do nothing but frustrate the business, non-profit and government institutions in our area who are simply trying to work and of course the vendors and staffing who are tasked with getting them working.

Conor Smith
First Call Computer Solutions
When you consider the sorts of stuff the Chamber of Commerce come and bitch about I don't know why they aren't complaining about this one where the city is looking at creating a new regulation that pretty much does nothing but add cost and hassle to folks trying to do business. In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that small wiring jobs also represent a tiny fraction of my company's revenue. Of course, if this passes we will make more money since the billable hours related to connecting a computer to the network will at least double.

In other business we named the MRA board meeting room the Hal Fraser room in memory of Hal's service as MRA board president.

Thank you for your interest,

Bob Jaffe
Missoula City Council Ward 3
1225 South 2nd West
Missoula, MT 59801
(406) 880-2052

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