Article 1. General Provisions And Definitions of California Health And Safety Code >> Division 13. >> Part 2.5. >> Chapter 4.5. >> Article 1.
The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) There is an urgent need for low-cost, energy-efficient housing
(b) The cost of conventional lumber-framed housing has risen due
to a shortage of construction-grade lumber.
(c) Straw is an annually renewable source of cellulose that can be
used as an energy-efficient substitute for stud-framed wall
(d) The state has mandated that the burning of rice straw be
(e) As a result of the mandated burning reduction, growers are
experimenting with alternative straw management practices. Various
methods of straw incorporation into the soil are the most widely used
alternatives. The two most common methods are nonflood incorporation
and winter flood incorporation. Economically viable off-farm uses
for rice straw are not yet available.
(f) Winter flooding of rice fields encourages the natural
decomposition of rice straw and provides valuable waterfowl habitat.
According to the Central Valley Habitat Joint Venture component of
the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, in California's Central
Valley, over 400,000 acres of enhanced agricultural lands are needed
to restore the depleted migratory waterfowl populations of the
Pacific flyway. Flooded rice fields are a key and integral part of
the successful restoration of historic waterfowl and shorebird
(g) Winter flooding of rice fields provides significant waterfowl
habitat benefits and should be especially encouraged in areas where
there is minimal potential to impact salmon as a result of surface
(h) An economically viable market for rice straw bales could
result from the use of rice straw bales in housing construction.
(i) Practicing architects and engineers have determined that the
statutory guidelines established by Chapter 941 of the Statutes of
1995 contain specific requirements that they believe are either
unnecessary or detrimental. Some of the requirements are considered
costly and severely restrict the development of straw-bale housing.
(j) Statutory guidelines for the use of straw-bale housing would
significantly benefit energy conservation, natural resources,
low-cost housing, agriculture, and fisheries in California.
(k) Tests and experience with straw-bale construction demonstrate
that it is a strong, durable, and thermally superior building system
that deserves a larger role in modern construction.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the
guidelines established by this chapter shall apply to the
construction of all structures that use baled straw as a loadbearing
or nonloadbearing material within any city or county that adopted the
guidelines established by Chapter 941 of the Statutes of 1995 prior
to January 1, 2002. This requirement shall not preclude the city or
county from making changes or modifications to the guidelines
pursuant to subdivision (b). Notwithstanding any other provision of
law, the guidelines established by this chapter shall not become
operative in a city or county that has not adopted the guidelines
prior to January 1, 2002, unless and until the legislative body of
the city or county makes an express finding that the application of
these guidelines within the city or county is reasonably necessary
because of local conditions and the city or county files a copy of
that finding with the department.
(b) A city or county may, by ordinance or regulation, make any
changes or modifications in the guidelines contained in this chapter
as it determines are reasonably necessary because of local
conditions, provided the city or county files a copy of the changes
or modifications and the express findings for the changes or
modifications with the department. No change or modification of that
type shall become effective or operative for any purpose until the
finding and the change or modification has been filed with the
(c) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as increasing or
decreasing the authority to approve or disapprove of alternative
construction methods pursuant to the State Housing Law, Part 1.5
(commencing with Section 17910) or the California Building Standards
Code, Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations.
(d) It is the intent of the Legislature that the statutory
guidelines of this chapter serve as an interim measure pending the
evaluation of straw bales as a construction material through the
normal processes used for the testing and listing of building
materials, the determination of construction standards, and the
adoption of those materials and construction standards into the
California Building Standards Code.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as an
exemption from Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 5500) of, or
Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 6700) of, Division 3 of the
Business and Professions Code relative to preparation of plans,
drawings, specifications, or calculations under the direct
supervision of a licensed architect or civil engineer, for the
construction of structures that deviate from the conventional framing
requirements for wood-frame construction.
For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms are
defined as follows:
(a) "Bales" means rectangular compressed blocks of straw, bound by
strings or wire.
(b) "Department" means the Department of Housing and Community
(c) "Flakes" means slabs of straw removed from an untied bale.
Flakes are used to fill small gaps between the ends of stacked bales.
(d) "Laid flat" refers to stacking bales so that the sides with
the largest cross-sectional area are horizontal and the longest
dimension of this area is parallel with the wall plane.
(e) "Laid on edge" refers to stacking bales so that the sides with
the largest cross-sectional area are vertical and the longest
dimension of this area is horizontal and parallel with the wall
(f) "Loadbearing" refers to plastered straw-bale walls that bear
the dead and live loads of the roof and any upper floor.
(g) "Nonloadbearing" refers to plastered straw-bale walls that
bear only their own weight, such as infill panels within some type of
post and beam structure.
(h) "Plaster" means lime, gypsum, lime cement, or cement plasters,
as defined by the California Building Standards Code, or earthen
plaster with fiber reinforcing.
(i) "Straw" means the dry stems of cereal grains left after the
seed heads have been substantially removed.