California Law Protects Alarm Companies From User Permit Fines, Fees

An amendment to the California Alarm Act prohibits law enforcement agencies and others from directly billing alarm companies for fines incurred by users responsible for obtaining or renewing a permit.

SACRAMENTO — Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed into law AB 1298. AB 1289, authored by Assembly member Phillip Chen (A-55-R) amends the California Alarm Act so as to prohibit law enforcement agencies and/or their third party false alarm ordinance compliance contractors from directly billing an alarm company of any fines that may occur if the end user of a system was responsible for obtaining an alarm use permit, or the renewal of that permit.

The bill, signed on July 9, adds Section 7592.9 to the Act.

7592.9. Notwithstanding Section 7592.8, a city, county, or city and county that requires a person who owns, leases, rents, or otherwise possesses an alarm system to obtain a local use permit to operate the alarm system shall not fine an alarm company for requesting dispatch to a customer, whether residential or commercial, that does not have a current local use permit if either apply:

(a) It was not the alarm company’s legal responsibility to obtain the local use permit for the customer or renew the local use permit for the customer.

(b) If it is the alarm company’s legal responsibility to renew the local use permit for the customer, the alarm company was not notified that the customer’s local use permit had expired.

A key benefit of belonging to the California Alarm Association is the work that is performed by our lobbyist Trent Smith and the firm that he is a Partner with, Edelstein Gilbert Robson & Smith, LLC.  Trent works very closely with the Governmental Affairs Committee which in turn works with the members of the Association on issues related to the alarm industry in California.

It was through this partnership that a number of member firms identified this as an issue in 2018. The California Alarm Association (CAA) Government Affairs Committee, in working with Trent worked to develop suitable language for such a bill and to find a member of either the California Senate or Assembly to move the bill through the process of amending the California Alarm Act.

Trent’s office has a close working relationship with Assembly member Chen, and in working with him and his staff was able to draft the legislation. In meeting with law enforcement advocacy groups and others, the CAA made it clear that we were not opposed to the registration of alarm systems or the fines to those systems if they were not registered.

The issue that the Association had was who the bill was being sent to.  As the bill passed through both houses, not a single negative vote was cast. Trent worked closely with Assembly member Chen’s office as well as with the Assembly and Senate Committees that would require the approval of.

Trent also worked closely with the members of your Governmental Affairs Committee as this bill went through the adoption process; Holly Borgmann (ADT), Brian Boeglin (Comcast), Ron Lander (Ultrasafe Security Specialists), Deric Morrow (Johnson Controls) and myself (Bay Alarm Co.). I would like to thank Holly for her work on this bill, including flying across the country to appear at the first hearing before the Assembly on behalf of the bill.

These amended requirements go into effect on January 1, 2020.

[This article first appeared in the August issue of The Mirror, a monthly newsletter published for the Western State Security Alliance. Shane Clary serves as Chair of the California Alarm Association (CAA) Government Affairs Committee.]

About the Author

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Shane Clary, Ph.D., is Security Sales & Integration’s “Fire Side Chat” columnist. He has more than 37 years of security and fire alarm industry experience. He serves on a number of NFPA technical committees, and is vice president of Codes and Standards Compliance for Pancheco, Calif.-based Bay Alarm Co.

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