A Successful Group Effort

The Central Iowa Code Consortium has completed its first proposal process.

We often hear that committees are where good ideas go to die. But the Central Iowa Code Consortium (CICC) is proving that cliché wrong.

Early this year we highlighted the innovative approach the Consortium has taken to battle bureaucratic confusion in building-related codes and regulations.

The Code Consortium began as an outgrowth of the Capital Crossroads project, in which a number of local organizations joined together with the goal “to assure the central Iowa region can grow and prosper.”

The Crossroads members quickly discovered that unwieldy building and fire codes, which varied dramatically from one community to the next, were hindering that growth and prosperity. Thus, the CICC was born. And unlike nearly any other code review committee or community growth panel, the CICC consists of both government and professional representatives working together to develop unified goals.

After nearly 1,500 hours of meetings, reviews, and discussions, the seven Consortium committees have completed their initial proposals. The first community decisions are anticipated over the course of the next few months.

“The committees actually completed their proposals by the end of June,” says Executive Committee member Jim Sanders, Johnston City Manager. “The Executive Committee then took those proposals, reviewed them, and held a series of public meetings to give the public an opportunity to participate in the process.”

With some minor changes, the codes were approved and passed on to the 17 participating community governments late this summer. “Our committees reviewed and considered over 200 code changes,” Sanders says. “So it’s been a huge undertaking for everyone involved.”

The individual municipalities involved in the Consortium follow their own code review processes, he adds. Some have a committee structure; others implement a sort of chain-of-command system, with various individuals approving or revising the proposed codes before a final citywide acceptance. “Because every city has its own review process, we don’t expect to have all the decisions until the first part of 2017,” Sanders says.

Although the communities involved have signed on to the process because they support the regional code concept, they are not obligated in any way and can choose to adopt the entire proposal, none of the proposed codes, or any portion that meets their particular community’s needs and development goals.

“We went into this knowing each community would make the decision that was best for them,” Sanders explains. “We don’t necessarily expect to achieve 100% participant approval on 100% of the proposal, but we all anticipate being a lot closer to the same page than we’ve ever been before.”

The objective in this initial year was to develop a system for reviewing the national codes and presenting recommendations locally. In its most recent brochure, the Consortium states, “We now have the infrastructure established to more efficiently develop future model codes and to potentially expand this practice to other regulatory processes throughout central Iowa.”

As the Consortium looks ahead to 2017, Sanders says the activity level will slow down for a while. “We may have to have additional meetings to discuss enforcement concerns and ancillary issues,” he adds. “But our role will be more in the areas of education and coordination this next year.”

That is, until 2018, when the next national code recommendations are released and the process starts all over again.

CICC Members

  • Altoona
  • Ankeny
  • Bondurant
  • Carlisle
  • Clive
  • Des Moines
  • Grimes
  • Johnston
  • Norwalk
  • Osceola
  • Pleasant Hill
  • Polk City
  • Urbandale
  • Van Meter
  • Waukee
  • West Des Moines
  • Windsor Heights
  • Polk County

Codes Reviewed for 2016

  • Building
  • Existing Building
  • Fire
  • Electrical
  • Energy Conservation
  • Mechanical
  • Plumbing
  • Fuel Gas
  • Residential
  • Liquefied Petroleum Gas