California Legal
California SB 280
by Kristin Easterling

In 2014, more than 208,000 Californians age 65 and older were treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries and almost 75,000 were admitted to the hospital as a result of a fall. California Building Standards Law requires all state agencies that propose the adoption of any building standard to submit it to the California Building Standards Commission for approval and adoption. Existing law requires the commission to publish the code in its entirety once every three years.

Proposed Changes

Starting Jan. 1, 2020, the California Department of Housing and Community Development would be required to investigate changes to the state’s residential building code to promote safe aging in place. This includes:

  • Locating doorbells, light switches, and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning controls so they are reachable by those with mobility impairments.
  • The installation of support backing in one or more bathrooms for the later installation of grab bars.
  • The provision of a 32-inch clearance for one bathroom door and one bedroom door on the ground floor, or, in the case of a two- or three-story single-family dwelling, on the second or third floor of the dwelling if a bathroom or bedroom is not located on the ground floor.

If the department determines that these changes can be incorporated into the California Residential Code without significantly increasing the cost of construction, the department may propose building standards to that effect for consideration by the California Building Standards Commission. The bill includes an 18 month allowance for the construction industry to adopt new standards and designs.

Did you know?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015 Medicare paid $29 billion on non-fatal fall injuries. Some $754 million was spent on fatal falls.

What happens next?

SB 280 was passed by the California Assembly and Senate and enrolled on Sept. 13, 2019. It goes to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk for signature.

Learn more

Visit to track this bill’s progress.

Kristin Easterling is managing editor of HomeCare magazine.