The pool and concrete deck was in when I bought the house 2 years ago. The house is 30 years old, the pool about 25. The patio cover posts are within 6' of the pool. I had 3, 12'' squares cut in the deck (per the city) so I could set the posts in the existing deck and have room to dig the post hole and add brick trim. (see pictures)
The normal pool setback for the posts from the edge of the pool would have been the depth of the pool plus 12''. The pool is 3' deep in the shallow end, plus 12', would have given me a 4' setback, but they allowed me to only have a 3' setback if my footings were 24'' deep - something to do with the load on the pool's bondbeam. I went with the "city standard" design for the cover, or I whould have had to pay to have plans drawn up and pay for structural engineering checks, so I chose to go with the city standard. There is no rebar or any other electrical panels available without cutting the deck to get back to the pool electrcal panel at the other end of the yard. I assumed the wood posts were grounded to the 18'' steel brakets, which were then set 12'' into the 24'' holes (the bottom 12' of the hole was just filled with concrete), but I guess concrete is not a ground. Also, this is Southern California, we don't have lightning here to speak of. I thought he was worried about electrollis or something like that.
I think the ground rod suggestion was all he could think of because this is not new construction and there isn't access to the pools rebar etc. He also said the rail by the steps should also have been grounded when it was installed. It too had been added after the pool had been built, but is not part of this Permit.
Thanks for your help,