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  • Archive for March, 2011

    Mar 25

    ANTI-BUSINESS PROPOSALS RISE AGAIN IN NEW SESSION

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    Along with our friends at the CalChamber, we are opposing legislation that will increase costs for California employers, thereby hurting their ability to compete in the global marketplace and provide jobs has been introduced again this year.  Following is just some of the anti-business bills introduced so far:

    AB 10 (Alejo; D-Watsonville) – Automatic Minimum Wage Increase. Increases the cost of doing business for employers in California by raising the state minimum wage to $8.50 per hour with an automatic annual indexing of the minimum wage for every year thereafter according to the percentage of inflation.

    AB 22 (Mendoza; D-Norwalk) – Employment: Credit Reports. Unfairly limits employers’ ability to use consumer credit reports for legitimate employment purposes, unless the information in the report is “substantially job-related.” The bill narrowly defines that term to refer only to managerial positions; employees of the state Department of Justice; law enforcement; certain financial institutions; or a position for which a report is required by law.

    AB 559 (Swanson; D-Alameda) – Undermines Judicial Discretion. Unreasonably increases business litigation costs by limiting judicial discretion to reduce or deny exorbitant attorneys fees in fair employment and housing cases.

    SB 104 (Steinberg; D-Sacramento) Increased Agricultural Costs. Attempts to limit employees’ ability to independently and privately vote for unionization in the workplace, by eliminating a secret ballot election and replacing it with the submission of representation cards signed by over 50 percent of the employees, which leave employees susceptible to coercion and manipulation by labor organizations.

    SB 129 (Leno; D-San Francisco) – Employee Safety Risk. Undermines employers’ ability to provide a safe and drug-free workplace by establishing a protected classification for employees who utilize medical marijuana.

    SB 364 (Yee; D-San Francisco) Creates Employer Tax Credit Uncertainty. Eliminates the incentive effect of future-enacted tax incentives by imposing a penalty on California employers who claim tax incentives if they experience a loss in employment greater than 10 percent, whether or not the reduction of employees was connected to the effectiveness of the incentive.

    Click here for the full Chamber alert.

    Mar 18

    AIR QUALITY THRESHOLD LITIGATION MAY PROCEED TO TRIAL

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    A lawsuit filed by the homebuilders (CBIA) challenging new air quality standards has sufficient merit to proceed to trial, an Alameda County Superior Court judge has ruled. Many state, regional and local planners and affordable housing advocates argue the standards would discourage sustainable, infill development.  Click here to read the full story.

    Mar 18

    COMMUNITY RECOVERY AND ENHANCEMENT ACT

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    The Community Recovery and Enhancement (CRE) Act was introduced in the US House of Representatives this week.  H.R. 1147, sponsored by Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) will help incentivize equity investment in distressed commercial real estate assets and address the pending crisis threatening community banks that currently hold significant real estate debt on their books. 

    H.R. 1147 is a targeted solution to the current credit crisis impacting commercial real estate.  This legislation will enable banks to convert troubled loans into performing assets through modest tax incentives to attract new equity capital to existing commercial real estate projects.  Under this temporary tax incentive proposal, qualifying investments must be made before 2013, and the proposal only applies to assets purchased before 2009, i.e. existing projects.  At least 80 percent of the newly invested project capital must be used to reduce the outstanding balance of debt on the asset, with the balance going toward capital improvements, such as energy efficiency enhancements or leasehold improvements to attract new tenants.  The new investment would qualify for a one-time 50 percent bonus depreciation with a cap of $10 million per eligible property.  Additionally, investors would be able to deduct any losses associated with the qualifying investment without regard to the passive loss limitations under Section 469 of the IRS Code.

    Here is a news story announcing ICSC support of the measure.

    Mar 18

    AB 934 WOULD ALLOW LIBEL LAWSUITS AS PART OF A TENANT DISPUTE

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    We are opposing a bill that will be heard next week in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.  AB 934 (Feuer; D-Los Angeles) would make it more difficult for property owners and managers to redress disputes with tenants through the courts by denying the use of privileged communications available to virtually every other litigant.

    AB 934 changes the law in order to overturn a recent ruling in which the court found that certain statements by rental property owners/managers, in preparation for litigation, were privileged and could not support a finding of libel.  If passed, this change in law would have the negative impact of encouraging accusations of slander or libel during the course of court proceedings which could unduly and unfairly harm the property owner/manager who is seeking redress.  

    We are very concerned that AB 934 will have a chilling effect on the right to redress grievances with tenants that are disruptive to others and/or fail to meet rent or other leasing obligations through the courts. This will have a negative impact on property owners, managers, and tenants alike. 

    We strongly oppose this bill.  Click here to read AB 934 (Feuer; D-Los Angeles).

    Mar 18

    BUDGET PASSES ON MAJORITY VOTE – HISTORY MADE – TAX QUESTIONS REMAIN UNRESOLVED

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    Both houses of the California Legislature passed the main budget bill on Thursday on a majority vote with only Democratic members supporting the spending plan.  However, several major issues – including elimination of Redevelopment Agencies and authorization for a special election to “extend” certain taxes via a vote in June – have all been left unresolved.

    The Democratic majority passed the budget bill on a majority vote due to approval of Proposition 25 last November – this is the first time in history that a 2/3’s vote was not required for such action.  However, because they contain spending and taxation, all of the budget “trailer” (or implementing legislation) continue to require the higher vote threshold.

    The budget approved by the Legislature is very close to what was originally proposed by the Governor in January.  The plan aims to close a $25 billion budget gap with roughly a fifty-fifty split between spending cuts and revenue enhancements (tax extensions).

    The Governor and Democrats would like the tax provisions on the ballot to be endorsed by a vote of the people.  These tax proposals include an additional 1 percent sales tax, a quarter percent surcharge on income tax, and higher vehicle license fees. 

    The Legislature has adjourned for the weekend and talks are expected to resume next week.

    Click here for a detailed story about this historical budget vote.

    Mar 11

    GREEN CALIFORNIA SUMMIT & EXPOSITION

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    The 2011 Green California Summit & Expo, taking place at the Sacramento Convention Center April 18-20, is shaping up to be the biggest green government conference ever. Over 200 suppliers of green products and services and upwards of 6,000 attendees are expected. The Summit will feature keynote speakers, an educational program of full-day workshops, concurrent sessions, product showcases and networking opportunities. Group discounts available.

    As a visibility sponsor of the event CBPA members get a discount on the price of admission.  Simply use the promo code “CBPA” when you register.  For more information and to register, click here.

    Mar 11

    IN-DEPTH COMMERCIAL CALGREEN WORKSHOP

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    In addition to the above classes, on April 18 in Sacramento, the Building Standard Commission is also offering a CALGreen workshop that will go in-depth into the commercial/non-residential aspects of the code.  You can also earn AIA and ICC continuing education credits by attending this workshop.

    The CALGreen Commercial Workshop will provide an in-depth look at the commercial chapters of the new code that pertain to nonresidential construction, covering each section in detail with a focus on application and compliance. Each participant will review a commercial site plan, from planning and design to completion, detailing each aspect of code – and how to achieve them.

    CALGreen also mandates commissioning be required of all new nonresidential properties over 10,000 square feet, and this session will address the various steps of the commissioning process.

    Participants will also be trained on the new documentation requirements for the submission and approval of building plans.

    Click here to register.

    Mar 11

    REDEVELOPMENT IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR!

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    Because we have heard from so many of our members about the importance of Redevelopment, we thought we’d led you know about the CRA Annual Conference and Expo, being held in San Jose, CA, on March 30 – April 1. The theme of this year’s conference, co-sponsored by ICSC, is “Redevelopment: Worth Fighting For!” The conference begins with a keynote entitled “Re-position RDAs: Can We Mend It Rather Than End It?”

    Click here for more information and registration.

    Mar 11

    LEGISLATIVE HIGHLIGHTS

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    California is in the first year of its two year 2011-2012 legislative session. So far 2,355 measures have been introduced, which puts us on pace for almost 5,000 bills. So far, we have identified over 380 measures with potential impact on our industry. Here are a few of interest. Your feedback, analysis, and position recommendations are highly encouraged.

    SCA 5 (Simitian; D-Palo Alto) Changes the vote threshold for the imposition, extension, or increase of a parcel tax, by a school district, community college district, or county office of education to approval of 55%.

    AB 153 (Skinner; D-Berkeley) Creates “Affiliate Nexus” for online retailers for purposes of State Sales Tax point of collection requirements.

    AB 208 (Fuentes; D-Los Angeles) Land use: subdivision maps: expiration dates. Extend by 24 months the expiration date of any approved tentative map or vesting tentative map. POS: Support.

    AB 312 (Lowenthal; D-Long Beach) Creates protections for Homeless People on private property.

    AB 350 (Solorio; D-Santa Ana) Extends the Displaced Janitor Opportunity Act to include other services such as security guards, landscapers, window cleaners, and cafeteria workers. Renames the act the “Displaced Property Service Employee Opportunity Act”.

    AB 448 (Ammiano; D-San Francisco) Seeks to change definition of corporate ownership and transaction of property for the purpose of assessment of commercial property.

    Mar 4

    ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROGRAM AIMS TO CREATE CLEAN ENERGY JOBS

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    The California Energy Commission joined regional efforts to increase energy efficiency and encourage clean jobs with the statewide launch of Energy Upgrade California, the new energy efficiency program.

    Part of this comprehensive program is the integrated Web Portal, which provides easy to use tools and resources to property owners to help them improve their energy and water efficiency, save money and increase building comfort.

    Energy Upgrade California is an unprecedented collaboration between the California Energy Commission, the Public Utilities Commission, utilities, local governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to promote and finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for homes and businesses, reduce energy use and help train contractors and building professionals.

    The state hopes these efforts will spur construction-related jobs that lead to increased sales for local building suppliers and retailers. We hope they are correct.

    Mar 4

    REGULATORY REFORM THE FOCUS OF CAPITOL HEARINGS

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    Regulatory reform was the focus of two Capitol hearings over the past two weeks. Following a second hearing by the Little Hoover Commission, the Republican’s E3 Roundtable met to discuss ways to improve California’s regulatory review process. Several business groups provided a variety of suggestions on how the existing regulatory development process could be improved. Homebuilders made the point that most state agencies have an inherent conflict of interest when producing an economic impact analysis of their own regulations. In response, they stressed the need to have access to a “neutral” third-party within state government who could, on an as-needed basis, critique the impact analysis produced by a state agency.

    In addition, state agencies should be required to provide an “estimated cost of compliance” with all regulatory proposals, something that is rarely done even though all state agencies are require to determine if their regulatory proposal will have a significant impact on business and housing. It is anticipated that over three dozen bills will be introduced this year that will focus on various reform strategies.

    Mar 4

    STANDARDS COMMISSION TO CONDUCT ADVISORY COMMITTEE HEARINGS

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    The Building Standards Commission has set the dates for the next set of Code Advisory Committee Hearings. As required by industry sponsored legislation, all state amendments to the national codes must first go through one of BSC’s Advisory Committees prior to any action by the full commission.

    Code changes related to disabled accessibility issues will be heard on Wednesday, March 16. General building and fire safety issues will be heard on Thursday, March 24th and a full-day hearing to discuss green building amendments has been set for Tuesday, April 5th.

    The code-change amendments that will be discussed at these three hearings are being proposed by various state agencies and if approved, would take effect statewide on July 1, 2012.

    All of these advisory committee hearings will be conducted in Sacramento. As a result of CBIA-sponsored legislation in 2010, this will be the only interim-update to the state code before the next triennial edition takes effect in 2014. For access to all of these processes and proposals click here.