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Second Appeal Brief
PA ID# 055-1433C-00; Napa Valley Unified School District
PW ID# (PW) 191 ; Codes and Standards
Conclusion: The Applicant has not demonstrated the provided codes and standards meet the criteria required by 44 C.F.R. § 206.226(d).
During the incident period of August 24 through September 8, 2014, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake and aftershocks caused damage throughout Napa County. Following the disaster, the Napa Valley Unified School District (Applicant) approved work to replace lighting and suspended ceiling systems. The Applicant requested Public Assistance (PA) funding for earthquake-related damages to pendant lighting and T-bar grid ceiling system components on six school campuses, asserting that the Division of State Architects (DSA) required the complete replacement of damaged systems with compliant systems. FEMA designated the work an “improved project” that included work exceeding what was necessary to restore predisaster condition. FEMA obligated Project Worksheet 191 for $127,586.63, the estimated costs to repair or replace the disaster-damaged components of the lighting and ceiling systems. The Applicant appealed. The RA denied the appeal, concluding the Applicant (1) failed to establish the lighting and ceiling system upgrades were required by an eligible code or standard; (2) did not show the DSA’s general authority is equivalent to a formally adopted code or standard as required by the criteria set forth in 44 C.F.R. § 206.226(d)(3), (4) and (5), and (3) failed to demonstrate that the damaged components could not be repaired. In its second appeal, the Applicant argues: (1) FEMA’s representative lacked pertinent experience, provided inadequate and incorrect guidance, recommended repairs that would not be approved, and failed to appreciate the damage done to the suspended components; (2) the RA erred in the first appeal analysis when stating the Applicant determined the lighting and ceiling systems needed to be replaced and when describing the level of damage to the components; and, (3) the original ceiling was a structural system and it suffered structural damage in the earthquake, and the RA erred when rejecting State Architect findings in favor of relying on a DSA manual that generalizes all pendant lights and suspended ceilings as nonstructural building components. The Applicant and Grantee argue the replacement standard to upgrade the damaged systems meets the eligibility criteria set forth in 44 C.F.R. § 206.226(d).
Authorities and Second Appeals
- Stafford Act §§ 406.
- 44 C.F.R. § 206.226(d)
- PA Guide, at 34.
- DAP 9527.4, at 2.
- City of Minot, FEMA-1981-DR-ND, at 6.
- 44 C.F.R. provides guidance for determining eligible work based on State and local construction codes and standards as they apply to the repair and restoration of damaged facilities. Per 44 C.F.R. § 206.206(d), construction codes or standards must meet certain criteria to be eligible for funding.
- § 4-309(e), cited by DSA as the building code provision that required lighting and ceiling systems to be reconstructed, pertained to repair of structural damage due to an earthquake. No school suffered structural damage due to the earthquake. Lighting and suspended ceiling systems are nonstructural building components; repair of earthquake damage to nonstructural building components did not trigger upgrade requirements. The code does not apply to the type of repair or restoration required and does not satisfy the criteria set forth in 44 C.F.R. § 206.226(d)(1).
- The DSA’s general authority to require upgrades is discretionary. The requirement cannot be based solely on the exercise of discretionary authority by an approving official. DSA authority under the Field Act to enforce California Building Standards Code is not a formally adopted and uniformly applied and enforced code or standard and fails to meet the criteria set forth in 44 C.F.R. § 206.226(d)(3), (4) and (5).