Senate Bill 720 was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 9th. It will not be heard next Tuesday, March 28th, during Judiciary’s next meeting. Instead, we will hear eleven other bills. Therefore, it may come up on Tuesday, April 4th or 11th.
Why is this important? Well, I serve as Vice Chair of Judiciary and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson serves as Chair. So, writing us letters, with copies to the other five members, is a good thing to do for bills that will be heard by this committee.
That’s how this process works. My office files copies of these letters in support or opposition of bills in our electronic drop box. This way we all have access to them and I can review them when I do my research and preparation for committee meetings.
I do take into consideration the organizations that take a public position on bills.
As for SB 720 (Allen), this seems like a bill that would be easy to support. If a city is doing all that it can to provide safe fire pits, then it should be rewarded with some form of immunity for these efforts. And, those using the fire pits know that they are utilizing an attractive nuisance that has elements of risk.
There is nothing more tragic than a toddler falling into a pile of still hot charcoal. But, just like having a child near a swimming pool, responsible adults should be carefully monitoring these toddlers who are around high risk activities.
What makes this bill interesting is that it will foreclose using certain municipalities as deep pockets for litigation purposes. I would think that this will draw out those who make a living from filing law suits.
Now that bills have had their thirty-day waiting period, I will be busy reviewing them in the various committees on which I serve and when they come to the Floor. I hope this provides a little window on the process.
Huntington Beach backs bill to reduce fire pit and BBQ liability
By Ben Brazil
The Huntington Beach City Council is supporting a state Senate bill that would relieve cities of liability when people are injured by beach fire pits or public barbecue grills.
Mayor Barbara Delgleize sent copies of a letter to California state senators John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) and Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) last week on behalf of the council, endorsing SB 720 and asking the two officials to support it as well.
The letter says the council voted unanimously in favor of the bill, which was introduced by state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) on Feb. 17.
It says the city is a prime tourist destination and the fire pits are particularly popular with visitors, but they can be dangerous when not used properly.
"There are times where users of these fire pits operate them in an unsafe and reckless manner and act irresponsibly around the fire pits even though the city takes necessary steps to warn of potential hazards and, as we do in Huntington Beach, clean out the fire pits every night," the letter says.
It goes on to say the city has to endure "costly litigation and/or settlements" following some injuries.
SB 720 would eliminate the city’s liability for injuries sustained "as a result of a fire or the remnants of a fire" from fire pits, rings, circles or barbecue grills located in parks or on beaches.
According to the letter, existing laws "immunize" cities from being sued for injuries caused by "a natural condition of unimproved property, such as a beach, despite the presence or absence of safety services such as lifeguards and beach cleanup services." But, it adds, injuries caused by fire pits and barbecues have left cities open to lawsuits.
"SB 720 is a needed piece of public policy that removes the city and public entities from costly liability and allows these monies to be put to better use," the letter says.
This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.
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