California ID Practice Act Update

The recent attempt by the IDCC/ASID to implement state mandated regulation via California AB2482 was killed. The opposition had more influence than the supporters plain and simple. It appears that the California Architects Board clearly opposed it.  There is some very enlightening discussion here.

Mr. McCauley reported on AB 2482 which would establish a DCA licensing board for interior designers, a practice act, and licensure requirements and exemptions. Mr. McCauley recommended the Board oppose the bill as it has similar bills in the past.

Sheran Voigt moved that the Board oppose AB 2482.

Hraztan Zeitlian seconded the motion.

Mr. Gutierrez raised further discussion on the proposed legislation. He stated that in the design process today, the interior designer does have an impact on the health, safety, and welfare (HSW) of the public with regards to interior spaces. He further stated his concerns that the language of the legislation does not differentiate the use of the terms “interior design,” “interior designer,” or anything similar embedded within a service, an advertisement, or branding. He stated this could cause confusion for the consumer and require additional research to understand the difference between “interior designer” and “registered interior designer.” Mr. Heller stated that the Board should reinforce the message of opposition to the legislation. He opined that the legislation promotes an unnecessary expansion of government. He stated that when the matter of interior designers was previously reviewed there arose some confusion about overlapping practice issues which could occur between interior designers and architects. He further stated there could develop problems in the HSW mission because interior designers may expand intoareas in which they lack the necessary expertise. Mr. McCauley stated that there are numerous issues with the AB 2482 as written. He stated that chief among the issues is the consumer confusion created by having different classes of interior designer. He further stated that with the terms “Certified Interior Designer”, “Registered Interior Designer”, and “Exempt Interior Designer” a consumer would have significant difficulty in determining who they should hire for a design project.

Mr. Zeitlian stated that there is no HSW reason which warrants a specialty license in one area of architecture. He also stated that interior design is one of the services which architects provide and for which they have responsibility. He opined that requiring a license for interior design is more for prestige and/or entitlement than protection of the public. He further stated that there is no need to create an additional government bureaucracy. Mr. Gutierrez countered that there are practices (firms) who perform sophisticated interior design work which does involve a significant public HSW concern.

 He reiterated his concern that the legislation does not isolate the license for the soon to or would be interior designers from others who are practicing design. He also reiterated that this would create confusion for consumers. Mr. Heller asked Mr. McCauley to prepare a memorandum summarizing the Board’s concerns that were raised during the meeting and include AIACC’s concerns and position. Mr. Baker stated that when the matter of licensing interior designers was raised a few years ago at the national level an issue regarding the scope of work for an interior designer license versus an architect license arose and was unable to be resolved. Mr. Gutierrez added that interior designers presently could design the entire interior space of a building without any accountability. He further stated that the license would bring that accountability and help protect the consumer to some extent, however, not from the confusion he had mentioned earlier.

 Mr. Baker added that an argument given by interior designers for licensure has been that building departments will not accept the materials submitted and often require an architect to sign and stamp the work for interior space planning. He raised the question about whether the interior designers should be preparing that kind of work and whether the building departments are simply “catching it at the gate”? Mr. Zeitlian asked that if interior designers could define a scope of work for which they would be legitimately licensed, then what about other areas of design that would technically be architecture. He opined that there is not a legitimate licensure-level area of practice involved with interior design.

 Mr. McCauley stated that the proposed legislation does not appear to respect the Sunset Review process because presently the private non-profit California Council for Interior Design Certification (which administers the Certified Interior Designers Law under the Business and Professions Code) is currently in the Sunset Review process. He also stated that there exists a counterpart process called the Sunrise process for new professions or vocations wishing to be regulated, which is also not being followed. He further stated the current arguments being made in-favor of the legislation were made during previous failed attempts without any substantive change. He stated that a key argument (building officials not accepting plans prepared by interior designers) was shown by Board surveys to be baseless. He further stated that even should the legislation pass, building departments have significant latitude and autonomy to determine what professions can submit plans for specific project types. He stated that another argument being made is how the building code defines registered design professional. He explained that the definition was previously part of an appendix to the International Building Code and therefore not mandatory. He further stated the last argument being made is that building officials will not accept interior designer plans because of liability. He added that the Government Code has specific provisions granting building officials immunity for liability. He then summarized that all the arguments being made in favor of registered interior designers were without merit.

 Mr. Gutierrez suggested that in the Board’s letter of opposition the statement of there being no documented public HSW issue should be removed. He opined that an argument could be made that such an issue does exist. Mr. McCauley responded by stating that none of the three states who license interior designers could point to documented harm that has occurred due to negligent practice by interior designers. Mr. Baker added that “at the end of the day” there needs to be clarity with regard to the level of service provided by the licensee (interior designer). Mr. Gutierrez replied that he believes it can be proved and a healthy argument could be made that interior design does have an impact on the HSW of an occupant.

The motion passed 8-0.

Taken from; http://www.cab.ca.gov/pdf/packets/2012_06_14_bd_packet.pdf Scroll to page #4

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