It took the City of San Ramon over a year to find and hire Reggie Meigs as the City's Chief Building Official. He worked for 20 years in Southern California before moving north in 1991 to take the job as Chief Building Official in Berkeley. San Ramon hired him about six years ago.
Meigs says he loves it here. "To do this job you really need to love it," he told me. "You get married to the community." He described the difficult balance to maintain empathy for all the contractors and homeowners at the same time while "mainly doing regulatory things." The Chief Building Official must keep up with ever-changing State Building Codes.
What set me off on this blog is how much work it is to keep up with all of the laws and codes passed by the State Legislature each year. For example when I put in my first set of water barrels for my laundry, Meigs had just attended a meeting on the legislative changes involving rainwater capture and gray water recycling.
As a Charter City San Ramon isn't required to follow all state codes but building and safety codes apply to everyone. There were 253 amendments to the Building Standards in 2008, 239 in 2009, and 258 in 2010. This is what the Chief Building Official must be on top of.
Municipal workers are in a constantly evolving environment of government changes and regulations. While some industries deal with a lot of government oversight, they usually have departments and consultants that specialize in regulations for that industry.
City governments, especially in California, are constantly dealing with the whims of politicians in Sacramento and Martinez. As the old saying goes, nothing is as constant as change.
Municipal jobs are not easy. There's some notion in the public today that anyone could do those jobs. Well here's a link to the 29 different codes that govern Californiaand the Statutes page. See how much of this gobbledegook you can understand.
Americans are told we are a country of laws. The origin of these laws is the Constitution, which grants the power to make laws to the Legislature. Our State Constitution follows this structure too, and boy does the California Legislature take that to heart. Their jobs are to make laws, change laws, repeal laws, and start over again with more laws.
Meigs retired a year-and-a-half ago but has been working part-time on contract to the City. He's moving back to Southern California to be with his large family and "love" interest. He will be working for a private consulting firm in Newport Beach. The notion that qualified municipal employees couldn't get a job in the private sector is nonsense, as is the notion that they wouldn't be paid as much.
Of course Meigs didn't reveal the terms of his new job, because private salaries are secret unlike public salaries, but I'm sure he's not taking any pay cuts.