Eighty years ago today, on November 18, 1935, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) held its first public Board meeting. The meeting took place at the State Office Building in downtown Sacramento.
CSLB was not always a Board. A bill to create the Board did not pass in its original form. Instead, the Contractors’ License Bureau, under what was then called the Department of Professional and Vocational Standards, was established on August 14, 1929. The Department had full control over the regulation of contractors. The Director of the Department, William G. Bonelli, a political appointee, was made the first Registrar of Contractors. He served both as Director and Registrar, and held License No. 1.
On September 15, 1935, a new law establishing a more independent Board to regulate the state’s construction industry took effect. At that same time, to determine the representation of Board members, the Legislature also defined the three categories of contractors still in use today:

  • General Engineering Contractor
  • General Building Contractor
  • Specialty Contractor

The law called for one General Engineering Contractor, three General Building Contractors, and three Specialty Contractors on the Board. The original Board members were:

  • Warren A Bechtel, Jr. – Engineering Contractor
  • Ralph E. Homann – General Building Contractor
  • S.G. Johnson – General Building Contractor
  • Hugh McNulty – General Building Contractor
  • Roy M. Butcher – Electrical Contractor
  • Stephen L. Ford – Plastering Contractor
  • William Nies – Plumbing Contractor

At that meeting, Mr. Bechtel was elected as the first Board Chair. Mr. Homann was elected Vice Chair. Three committees were also formed to undertake Board work:

  • Rules and Procedure Committee
  • Finance and Budget Committee
  • Personnel Committee

The Board also appointed Mr. Bonelli as Registrar of Contractors, a formality since he had already been serving in that position for the Contractors’ License Bureau. Mr. Bonelli resigned as Registrar three months later. It was the last time someone held both the Department Director and Registrar positions simultaneously.
Much of the first meeting was spent discussing the preparation of license application forms. The Board would go on to hold seven meetings during its first year of existence.
“California consumers and the state’s construction industry owe a great debt of gratitude to the state Legislature and others who had the foresight to set up this Board,” said CSLB Registrar Cindi Christensen. “While many regulations and laws have evolved over the years, it’s quite extraordinary to see how many of the original rules and guidelines are still in place.”
To commemorate the anniversary, the minutes from the Board’s first four years of meetings are now available on the CSLB website.