A Quagmire of Building Codes
The zoning definition for this type of project lies somewhere between residential, commercial and industrial. A great deal of gray area is left for interpretation by municipal boards. Significant design pioneering was needed to get this project through Beaumont’s approval process.
Four occupancy codes exist for this type of construction and use. The least desirable is the S-3 Occupancy, which applies only to parking garages where vehicles will be driven. Eucalyptus is more of a residential garage used for parking, not driving. However, the closest occupancy rating to this at the time was the S-3 occupancy that requires an elaborate ventilation system in each unit and costs more than $250,000. Do we need it? No. Will RVs be driving around inside a 13-by-50 unit? No. Therefore, a petition for a change of occupancy code now resides with the city.
Another challenge occurred due to a recent change by the city from the Universal Building Code (UBC) to the International Building Code (IBC). Under the new code, the facility’s occupancy and ventilation system requirements had to be re-engineered.
Public Works Predicaments
Several public works problems involving utilities and infrastructure also had to be dealt with before the project would meet code.
Sanitary dump stations. The sewer hook-up fee was originally $141,000, not including installation. The city engineer based the figure on his estimate of the hundreds of gallons of sewage an RV can hold. The city was concerned about the quantity of effluent from the RVs overwhelming the sewer system.
I surveyed clients and found that the maximum sewer usage would be only about 160 gallons per day, about half of a single-family home. Based on this information, city officials agreed to reduce the sewer connection fee by about 70 percent.