Voss Speros and I were talking the other day about this occupancy issue in City of Mesa Assisted Living. For those of you who aren’t aware, Mesa has wholly adopted IBC code that requires I-2 occupancy construction for 10 bed ALs to obtain direct care Arizona DHS licensing and retain residents who are incapable of self preservation. He posed the question “What does a compromise with the City of Mesa look like?”. It’s an important question and one that others may be asking. I decided to take a quick look and see how this was handled in a few other jurisdictions in Arizona.
All of these solutions provide for occupancy in the R-4 group classification with fire sprinkler systems and other modifications.
Town of Gilbert, Arizona
Gilbert’s solution was elegant in its simplicity.
308.3.2 Five or fewer persons receiving medical care. Amended to read as follows:
308.3.2 Ten or fewer persons receiving medical care. A facility as described in section
308.3 housing ten (10) or fewer persons shall be classified as group R-4.
Viola! They simply amended their adoption of the IBC and IRC for R-4 occupancy to 10 or fewer residents and to include medical care. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
They then further amended the R-4 Residential Group for medical care as well.
Residential Group R-4. Amended to read as follows:
Residential occupancies shall include buildings arranged for occupancy as residential care/assisted living homes that provide care for ten (10) or fewer persons excluding staff who reside on a 24 hour basis and that require medical or custodial care. These occupancies shall comply with all the provisions of Section 429.
City of Glendale, Arizona
Glendale has also opted to apply R-4 occupancy to residential assisted living homes licensed by AZ DHS.
Definition: R-4 Residential occupancies shall include buildings arranged for occupancy as residential care/assisted living facilities including at least 6 but not more than 10 occupants, excluding staff. Arizona Department of Health Services Revised Statues. 36-401.
Definitions: Adult Foster Care. Article 9 “Assisted living home” means an assisted living facility that provides resident rooms to ten or fewer residents.
They then go on to specify all the IBC construction requirements they have adopted for R-4 occupancy. The list is long and it would be some expense to for an existing Mesa 10 bed home to comply with a similar requirement. But it would be reasonable and possible for an existing 10 bed home in Mesa to accomplish. The important thing is that it provides a pathway for 10 bed residential homes to be a safe environment for elderly residents as they transition through the aging process in Glendale. Mesa 10 bed homes, despite having sprinkler systems, currently have NO OPTIONS through the city to achieve this occupancy.
City of Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix has also opted for R-4 occupancy for 6-10 bed assisted living approval along with, a fire sprinkler system, and an adoption of a couple of minimal IBC code requirements.
Requirements from their application
Zoning approval as a group home
Issuance of a C of O for a change in use to, or the establishment of, a newly constructed, R-4 occupancy
A Fire Sprinkler System per Phoenix Fire Code (PFC) 903.1 4. Fire Alarm Systems and Smoke alarms per PFC 907.2.10
Means of egress illumination per IBC 1008 6. Number of exits per IBC 1006
I’m certain if I took the time, I would find many more examples of jurisdictions that recognized the problem with the IBC code and have implemented an alternate approach that both achieves a safe environment for our residents but also allows them to age in place with dignity in residential home environment.
Advocates have stated that Mesa contends many municipalities have adopted the draconian code from IBC as written. I have not seen any evidence of this and would certainly like to know if it’s the case.
These changes do not happen without careful consideration by these municipalities. Mesa knew what the impacts would be and were aware of alternative solutions. This was a deliberate decision made with disregard for the consequences for our seniors.
If you have made this far and want to support Mesa assisted living home owners in changing this policy, you can sign a petition here-
There is also a GoFundMe set up for legal action here-