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About The Department

Mission Statement

Weights and Measures is committed to protecting the economic health of the community by preserving and maintaining confidence in the accuracy of weighing and measuring instruments, product standards, and business practices used in commerce. Through this balanced commitment and timely response to citizen requests, consumers and businesses are assured the means of accurate value comparison and fair competition.

About The Department

The Santa Cruz County Weights and Measures Department is supervised by Juan Hidalgo, the Agricultural Commissioner and Director of Weights & Measures.

The County Weights and Measures Department is a regulatory agency performing under the jurisdiction and direction of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors. The department also works in cooperation with various federal, state, regional, and local agencies, including, including CDFA's Division of Measurement Standards (DMS). At the county level, the Office of the Agricultural Commissioner consists of two divisions: Agriculture and Weights & Measures.

Functions and Activities

Historically, it had been the primary objective of weights and measures officials that "Equity Prevails" in the marketplace. To achieve that objective the department enforces the laws and regulations (Division 5, Sections 12001 through 13741) of the Business and Professions Code of California and the California Code of Regulations. Locally this enforcement protects and promotes the economy and commerce of Santa Cruz County. Each year county weights and measures officials inspect and test packaged commodities and all commercially used weighing and measuring devices. Transactions derived from the use of such devices are also inspected for accuracy. In addition to inspection activities, weights and measures officials provide education and training to the public as well as the regulated industries. Your weights and measures official is a "third party" to any transaction you may make based upon the activities in the following programs.

Devices

Santa Cruz County Weights & Measures Inspectors inspect and test various types of weighing and measuring devices throughout the county. Examples of some of the types of devices inspected are: computing scales, wired cordage meters, propane meters, fuel dispensers, electric submeters, water submeters, gas submeters, produce scales, deli scales, shipping scales, livestock scales, truck scales, etc. There are approximately 4,300 such devices inspected in Santa Cruz County each year.

All such devices are under the scrutiny of Weights & Measures. They are tested for accuracy and inspected to determine if they are appropriate for their intended use. Once that is determined the inspector certifies the device by affixing a paper seal to it.

Quantity Control

Now that we have certified the devices, how can you know you are getting what you have paid for? The Quantity Control program monitors transaction in the county. From time-to-time inspectors conduct inspections on packaged goods using statistical sampling procedures to determine if the package content is equal to the amount stated on the label. In addition, package labeling is examined for compliance with the basic labeling requirements as set by laws and regulations. Packaged commodities inspections occur at packing sites, distributors, retailers, supermarkets, meat markets, bakeries, deli's and various other locations where packaged items are sold.

In many stores bar coded readers and price look-up systems (scanners) have replaced individual prices on items. Price verification test purchases are made at various establishments throughout the county in order to check the accuracy of price transactions. Goods are selected at random and a simulated purchase is made to determine if customers are being charged the advertised price. Consumer complaints received by the department are investigated in this manner to check for any discrepancies.

Weighmaster

In one way or another, all of commerce is affected by the activities of weighmasters. Weighmasters are persons who weigh, measure, or count a bulk commodity, outside the presence of one party to the transaction and issue a certificate documenting the quantity that is used as the basis of a sale. A weighmaster can be the buyer, seller, or third neutral party. Courts of law recognize the certificates issued by weighmasters as being a legal document. As such, there are criteria that must be followed by weighmasters when issuing weighmaster certificates. Training is provided and inspections are performed by county weights & measures officials to ensure the correctness of the certificates issued. Diverse business such as retail landscape suppliers produce processors, cement plants, scrap metal yards, moving and storage companies, livestock dealers and rock quarries, just to name a few, are all weighmasters.

Petroleum Products

Nationally, the petroleum program run by weights and measures in California is unique in that the state and local Weights & Measures officials enforce that portion of the California Business and Professions code relating to petroleum product standards. Periodically, through consumer complaints or routine audits, samples are taken and sent to the lab in Sacramento for analysis. This is done to insure that the product complies with national standards and is in fact the same product as being advertised.

Labeling regulations are also strictly enforced to provide product identity and information to the buyer and seller. This includes price sign advertising, making sure no deceptive, false or misleading statements are being advertised, posting the product name, brand, grades, octane ratings to dispensers, price sign and dispensers agree, free air and water, service to disable drivers and proper labels attached to underground storage tanks to prevent commingling of products.

Service Agency

Persons that sell, rent, install, service, or repair commercial weighing and measuring devices are required to be licensed through the State Division of Measurement Standards. The lawful licensing of repair people by our office assists with the integrity of the repair industry. Agents must take and pass a written exam for "Weighing and Measuring Devices," before a license can be issued. Repairman must report their work to county weights and measures officials. This allows for efficient review of their work to validate the accuracy of that work and to verify the appropriate use of devices.