San Diego County supervisors Wednesday voted 4-1 in favor of additions to two ordinances to improve contractor transparency by increasing the amount of information contractors have to provide about subcontractors on development projects in unincorporated areas.
Wednesday’s vote represented a first reading for the county Building Code and Code of Regulatory Ordinance. If supervisors approve a second reading on May 11, those additions will take effect on June 10, according to Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher’s office.
Fletcher, who proposed a stronger contracting policy, said Wednesday’s vote was “another important step” to protect workers.
“These updates to our ordinances will make construction sites safer, and hold contractors and subcontractors who perform work in our unincorporated areas more accountable,” Fletcher said in a statement. “Having more information available about the subcontractors will allow us to more easily identify bad actors, help prevent workplace accidents and address any red flag before they start working on a job site.”
According to the county, the updated ordinance will collect the following information before a subcontractor is onsite:
- subcontractor specialty, name and contact, license number, address and workers compensation policy
- subcontractor work start and end dates
- detailed scope of the work done
- verification of Occupational Safety and Health Administration or wage violations
- subcontractor Disadvantaged Business Enterprise status
- special safety licenses or training requirements for a subcontractor’s scope of work
Projects that will require greater subcontractor transparency are:
- building permits for new commercial or residential tracts (five or more lots) and multifamily construction projects (five or more units), commercial tenant improvement projects over 10,000 square feet and projects associated with General Plan amendments
- right-of-way permits for transport of energy, water or sewer projects subject to the state prevailing wage; and projects not subject to state prevailing wage (excluding driveways and retaining walls)
The ordinance process began in March 2021, when supervisors directed Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer to seek input from stakeholders and develop options. After reviewing those options, the supervisors provided further direction in October.
Supervisor Nora Vargas said the ordinances were vital for all residents and business.
“It ensures those we do business with are held to a higher standard,” Vargas said.
Calling the ordinance additions “bureaucratic overkill,” Supervisor Jim Desmond was the lone no vote.
He argued that further regulation will only slow badly needed housing projects and increase costs.
The county already collects data on permit-holders, Desmond said, adding the proposal was coming at the wrong time and wasn’t well-received by some building industry groups.
“We should treat our local builders with respect and trust,” he said. “We should be getting out of the way.”
According to Fletcher’s office, the county issues between 14,000 and 18,000 building permits and around 2,200 right-of-way permits per year, with the overwhelming majority of projects using subcontractors.
City News Service contributed to this article.