Proposition 65 sign requirements for apartment buildings

Would you go over the Proposition 65 requirements for proper posting of signs in or around apartment buildings?

If you have not already done so, you should post Proposition 65 warning signs at your apartment building(s) immediately. Note that merely posting a warning does not constitute an admission. The Office Of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (“OEHAA”), the agency that implements Proposition 65, states that posting a warning sign can mean one of two things: (1) You have identified and evaluated chemicals on the property, and know that the chemicals present a significant risk to occupants and guests; or (2) You have provided a warning simply based on the belief that a chemical could be present. You have not taken any steps to determine if the chemicals are located at the property; you have simply taken a precautionary step.

The proper posting of the warnings includes three elements—size, content and location of the signs. OEHHA requires that Prop 65 warnings “must be reasonably calculated, considering the alternative methods available under the circumstances, to make the warning message available to the individual prior to exposure. The message must clearly communicate that the chemical in question is known to the state to cause cancer, or birth defects or other reproductive harm.” This may sound confusing, and it is. However, the California Apartment Association has signs available to you which meet the OEHHA requirements for size and content.

As for location of the signs, you must do the most appropriate of the following: (1) Post a warning sign in the “affected area”; (2) Post warning signs at all usual points of entry; (3) Mail or deliver a warning notice to each occupant (these notices are also available from CAA); or (4) Deliver a public media announcement which targets the affected area. Clearly, the method you choose will depend on the size and physical set up of your building(s).

We recommend that you post warning signs at all points of entry, including garage or basement entrances, in all common areas, including lobbies, pools and laundry rooms, and send the warning notice to each existing tenant, along with a cover letter to your tenants to calm their fears about your posted Prop 65 warnings (a sample letter is available from CAA). Also, you must provide the warning notice to all new tenants at the time of execution of the lease, and post a sign on every employee bulletin board and administrative office, if any, in your building(s).

By Sally Morin and James M. Millar of Millar & Associates (415)981-8100.