Berkeley parents contest proposed inspection change

Ashley Donohoe’s family want annual, not five-yearly inspections in wake of calamity

The parents of a student killed in last month's balcony collapse in California have told Berkeley city officials that a proposed change in building rules to inspect balconies every five years is "completely inadequate". They are calling instead for annual inspections.

Lawyers for George and Jackie Donohoe, whose daughter Ashley (22) died in the June 16th tragedy, wrote to officials, including Berkeley mayor Tom Bates, to challenge a recommendation by building inspectors after the accident. Berkeley City Council will today vote on the recommendations.

The family, who live in Rohnert Park, north of Berkeley, want the city to amend a recommended change to its housing code so that it “requires annual maintenance inspections” of all exterior and weather-exposed wooden and metal balconies.

“The Donohoe family wants to do everything in its power to ensure that this type of tragedy never occurs again,” said their lawyers, Rains Lucia Stern, in a letter on Friday.


The balcony collapse killed six students, five of whom were from Dublin, and injured seven others, some seriously.

Inspectors concluded the wooden beams supporting the fourth-floor balcony at the Kittredge Street apartment building became “severely dry-rotted” before the collapse.

Five-year inspections would create “the possibility that a building structure could be infested and compromised in the period between the required inspections”, the lawyers say in their letter.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent