THE STORY OF THE EAST BAY CHAPTER
By Steve Mitchell, Building Official and East Bay Chapter Historian
Gratitude is expressed for the efforts of George Barry, East Bay Chapter member for 24 years, who retired in 1967 from the City of Berkeley. Mr. Barry researched and produced the chapter history in 1970, three years prior to his death. In addition, a special "Thank You" goes to Stan Wheeler from the City of Livermore, who was the chapter historian prior to me for many, many years, and who kept our past alive.
The idea for an East Bay Chapter was conceived in March 1947, when Ernest Roussell, Chief Building Inspector for City of Oakland, was the key figure in getting building officials and fire marshals for Alameda and Contra Costa Counties together for a meeting in his office to discuss forming an organization to promote better inspection services.
Chaired by Mr. Roussell, this meeting was attended by Marcus Carlson, Alameda County building official; Burgess Poole, Richmond building official; Ralph Barrett, Piedmont building official; Harry Cobden, Berkeley building official; Carl Clark, Livermore building official, and fire marshals from Oakland, Berkeley, Hayward and Richmond.
Discussion at this first meeting centered around the purposes and objectives of the proposed organization to decide if the necessary time and effort for success were warranted. Additionally, it was decided that the image and stature of the building official needed improvement; how to achieve this elevated professional image was left open for discussion at a later meeting. Education of field and counter personnel was given a high priority.
In August 1947, the second meeting was held, with the same persons present as at the first meeting, with the addition of Rudolph Kraintz, newly appointed building official of Contra Costa County, and Howard Neighbor, assistant building official of Berkeley.
Chairman Roussell appointed Cobden, Poole and Kraintz to set up procedural guidelines, a provisional constitution and bylaws, and to make proper contracts with Conference headquarters. Roussell continued as chairman and held several meetings at which implementation of guidelines were discussed.
At a meeting held in the summer of 1948, a committee report was approved for accepting the proposed constitution and bylaws on a provisional basis. Also, the chapter's request for charter membership was approved for submission to Conference headquarters.
The first mention of chapters appeared in the form of an amendment to the Conference constitution and bylaws as printed in the September issue of Building Standards Monthly, following the East Bay request to become a chapter.
It is note worthy that the proposed amendment to the Pacific Coast Building Officials Conference Constitution to permit the organization of state or local chapters to the Conference was sponsored by members of the East Bay, Peninsula and Washington State in March 1947, and was approved at the 26th Annual Business Meeting held in Sacramento in September 1948.
At a meeting held in December 1948 for the purpose of electing regular officers, Mr. Roussell declined the presidency. The election resulted in a term of office from January 1, 1949, through December 31, 1949, for Rudolph Kraintz as president, Burgess Poole as vice-president and Marcus Carlson, secretary-treasurer. In addition to the officers, the charter members were Roussell, Neighbor, Clark, Barrett, Boswell, Gillet and Kitchel. Unfortunately, Mr. Roussell passed away in December of 1949.
The first printed record uncovered through investigation of the chapter was an item in the April issue of Building Standards Monthly, it reads as follows:
"The second meeting of the East Bay Chapter was held at Oakland in the American Legion clubrooms on March 11, 1949, under the direction of Ernest U. Roussell, head of the Building Department at Oakland, and a third meeting was scheduled for April 8 at 7:30 p.m."
It is noted that on this date five chartered chapters of the then P.C.B.O.C. were formed, East Bay, Sacramento Valley, Redwood Empire, San Joaquin Valley and the Tri-Valley Chapter in Yuma, Arizona. The Citrus Belt, Peninsula, Washington State and Utah State Chapters were also listed that year. The East Bay Chapter does not lay claim to being the first chapter, since this cannot be substantiated, but it is one of the original chapters.
On January 24, 1952, the East Bay Chapter received its Chapter Membership Certification signed by Mr. Hal Colling, Director of Pacific Coast Building Officials Conference. In March 1956, the Pacific Coast Building Officials Conference became the International Conference of Building Officials. In September 1956 the East Bay Chapter of P.C.B.O.C. became the East Bay Chapter of ICBO.
In January 1962 a chapter resolution was passed in supporting a California Chapter of ICBO which was later named the California Building Officials Association (CALBO). In September 1967 the first courses in the field of building inspection were being offered at Contra Costa College. The programs were expanded into Chabot College and Diablo Valley College some years later. The instructors for these courses were Building Officials and members of the East Bay Chapter.
On September 15, 1988, during the 66th Annual Education and Code Development Conference in Seattle, Washington, the first Award of Excellence in Chapter Activities was presented to the President of the East Bay Chapter in Recognition of Outstanding Contributions by ICBO Chapters in the Field of Code Enforcement.
Since September 1925, when S.P.Koch, Chief Building Inspector for the City of Berkeley was appointed to the Executive Committee of the Pacific Coast Building Officials Conference, at least one member of the chapter had served on the Board of Directors of ICBO. This ended in September 1994 (69 years) with the departure of Robert Eppstein, Building Official for the City of Fremont.
Also, one or more members of the East Bay Chapter have served on a standing committee of ICBO on a continuous basis since 1933 when A. J. Hurley, Building Inspector for the City of Richmond, was appointed to the Finance Committee.
It is the hope of the members of the East Bay Chapter that this information has been interesting, as well as informative, for it is our desire that all chapters take an active part in serving our organization, the International Conference of Building Officials. It is through chapters, collectively, that the success of ICBO will continue.
The achievements of other individuals in the chapter are too numerous to mention, but over the years the services of the chapter members to ICBO have exemplified a creed of Theodore Roosevelt: "Every man owes a part of his time and money to the business or industry in which he is engaged. No man has a moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere."
To this end the members of the East Bay Chapter have pledged to continue their efforts toward improving the status of the building official and promoting the building inspection profession.