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Council to hear arguments on plumbing code

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 by Jo Clifton

City Council will hold a public hearing at Thursday’s meeting on the contentious issue of adoption of a new plumbing code. However, because Council members Ann Kitchen and Delia Garza will be participating in a Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority workshop in Minneapolis on Thursday, Council Member Leslie Pool asked Mayor Steve Adler at Tuesday’s work session if they could hold the hearing but postpone the vote. The mayor seemed to be amenable to that idea. City staff and members of the home building community are requesting that Council adopt the International Residential Codes. Members of the Mechanical, Plumbing and Solar Board disagree. They recommended that Council adopt the Uniform Plumbing Code instead. Emily Blair, the chief executive officer for the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin, noted in a letter to Council that, “Austin is the only remaining market in Texas still using the Uniform Plumbing Code and its continued adoption is no longer in the public interest. This antiquated code gives one stakeholder,” by which she means plumbers, “an underserved financial edge while working to the detriment of builders, owners, renters, municipal inspectors, and affordability and water conservation advocates.” The association estimates that use of the Uniform Plumbing Code adds between $500 and $1,000 per house. Glen Coleman, representing the Home Builders, told the Austin Monitor he expects numerous plumbers to show up to testify in favor of the uniform code. The Zucker report recommended adoption of the international code and staff argues that code better fits the Imagine Austin priorities of water conservation and greater affordability.

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