San Diego implements new trasparency rules for contractors

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California Construction News staff writer

A new law went into effect New Year’s Day, requiring contractors or subcontractors on San Diego projects to meet stricter transparency and accountability standards.

San Diego officials say the goal is to prevent wage theft and create a “more level playing field” for contractors by requiring disclosure of more information about licensing and past labor law violations.

Projects that will require contractor and subcontractor verification:

  • Residential and mixed-use development projects of 20 or more dwelling units, including single-family dwelling units and multi-family subdivisions.
  • Commercial or industrial developments that propose 20,000 square feet or more of tenant improvements or construction of 20,000 square feet of additional or new gross floor area.
  • Any development that requires a Public Right-of-Way Permit.

Contractors applying for a building permit are now required to disclose information including worker compensation policy numbers, state contractor licenses, city business licenses, and any labor enforcement actions against the contractor that are either pending or prior to filing the application.

Information must be provided for each contractor and subcontractor on a project. All but the labor enforcement information was already being requested from the city’s top contractors, but none of this had been requested from subcontractors.

The new ordinance, approved by city council in August, also requires contractors and subcontractors performing work on public land, known as “right of way,” to provide the city with proof of the specific accreditation and training they need to do that work.

Several speakers at the Aug. 1 meeting supported the new rules, including Cristhian Carrillo, communications specialist at the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council.

“The San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council represents over 200,000 working families, that’s 136 local unions. We know the impact that multi-layered employment structures can have on worker and public safety,” Cario said. “We are all too familiar with the sub-contractors cutting corners, leaving workers without proper training for safety and install equipment . . . and creating poor working conditions.

“We as a community need to create a standard here.”

The city could seek work stoppages for projects that don’t comply with the new law or implement fines for violating the code and delaying city inspections so that work on a project cannot proceed.

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