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  • Archive for May 6th, 2011

    May 6

    EXISTING BUILDING ENERGY REGS UNDERWAY

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Signed into law in 2008, AB 758 (Skinner; D-Berkeley) requires the Energy Commission to develop and implement a comprehensive program to seek greater energy savings in California’s existing residential and commercial building stock.  In response, the CEC will be kicking off regulatory proceedings on May 9th to establish this program. 

    The commercial real estate industry supports efforts to improve energy efficiency in the existing building stock and your Sacramento staff will be participating in this important proceeding. However, we highly encourage interested members of the industry to participate and provide input.  Here is the CEC website which explains AB 758 and what California is trying to accomplish with these regulations.

    May 6

    BILL TO BAN BIG RETAIL PASSES ON PARTY LINE VOTE

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Senate Bill 469 (Vargas; D-San Diego), a bill pushed by some unions to make it more difficult to build “big box” retail stores in California, was heard in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on Monday and passed 5-2 on a strict party line vote (all Democrats voting “aye,” all Republicans voting “no”).  Under the guise of “assuring better planning decisions by local governments” the bill inappropriately used the state’s environmental laws to make it more difficult for certain retailers to complete projects.  Because of the terrible precedent it would set, the bill is opposed by a wide range of groups including the League of California Cities.

    On the surface, Senate Bill 469 mandates projects 90,000 square feet and larger to conduct so-called “economic and community” impact reports that include a long list of complicated statutory “assessments” that must be made and submitted to the local agency.  However, the practical impact of the bill will be to make it more expensive to develop such properties, and more difficult by providing lawsuit “hooks” to unions and other groups that oppose such development.

    By allowing land-use planning to be used in a broader union fight, SB 469 is designed to hurt an employer, which in turn hurts employees and the economy, further damages state tax revenues, and has the unintended consequence of killing green-collar jobs by stopping the development of the most energy and water efficient, sustainable, retail stores in the nation and limiting access to fresh groceries in underserved communities. 

    Because the provisions of the bill are selectively applied, SB 469 will also make people who are already concerned about the impact California’s environmental laws are having on the economy cynical about other legitimate land-use policies.

    The bill next moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

    May 6

    BILL MANDATING HIRES GOES TO SUSPENSE

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    A bill carried on behalf of SEIU by Assemblymember Jose Solario (D-Santa Ana) that forces employers to hire certain employees when the ownership or management of a building changes hands, was heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, May 4, and sent to that committee’s “Suspense File” due to costs to the state.

    AB 350 (Solorio) expands the “Displaced Janitor Opportunity Act” from the current 60 to 90 days, and expands the covered job types to security guards, landscapers, cafeteria workers, window washers, and other “building service employees.”  The bill forces employers to hire certain individuals and purposefully seeks to undermine the at-will employment presumption in California to enable/ensure union representation, despite any change in employers.

    This bill is a basic attack on your right to hire employees and contractors, and will add to the negative business climate in this state. 

    Businesses around the state are communicating with Legislators in an attempt to keep the bill “held” in the Appropriations committee.  We agree there is a cost to the state and believe that will be magnified many times over if this policy is applied to all private buildings.

    May 6

    REDEVELOPMENT REFORM UPDATE

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    The battle for elimination of California Redevelopment flared up again this week.  The Governor’s proposal for complete elimination of this funding was met with stiff resistance by a broad coalition of local agencies, labor, business, affordable housing advocates, and even some environmentalists.  Unable to get the votes for elimination in either Chamber, stakeholders have been working to design a change in law that would “mend” but not “end” the program.

    To that end, SB 286 by Senator Rod Wright (D-Los Angeles) has been amended to include a comprehensive package of redevelopment reform measures proposed by the CA Redevelopment Association members.  The bill was heard in committee this week, but held for further review.

    The reform measures include adding specificity to the types of information needed for making findings of blight; limit the percentage of total land area of a jurisdiction which may be included in project areas; exclude the schools share of property taxes in new project areas formed after January 1, 2012; prohibit uses of tax increment for specific purposes such as golf courses and professional sports facilities without voter approval; add new requirements to five-year implementation plans and require agencies to focus activities on state priorities such as job creation, cleaning up contaminated property, basic infrastructure needs, and affordable housing; provide for more public oversight; require development of performance indicators to measure agency success; require performance audits of agencies by the State Auditor and provide funds for those reviews; and specifically prohibit the use of tax increment for non-redevelopment, non-agency operating costs.

    We strongly support the Redevelopment program in California and will actively work with CRA and Senator Wright to push for reform – and continuation – of Redevelopment in California.  If you want to express your support for this measure, click here to contact legislators directly by using the CAPWIZ tool on the CRA website.

    May 6

    LOCAL GOVERNMENTS WEIGHING GREEN OPTIONS

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Over the past five years there has been an aggressive push in California at the local and state level to dramatically increase the sustainability of our already strict building codes.  That effort culminated in the groundbreaking passage of the nation’s first statewide “Green” building code, referred to as “CALGreen.”  Unlike in the past, where only a few individual jurisdictions passed local ordinances to guide green construction, now all buildings in the state must comply with a statewide minimum.  Because of this code, all new construction is consistently more environmentally friendly.

    There are still advocates that are pushing ever more strict codes based on non-governmental standards.  However, since the baseline in California has come up so much, pushing that goal ever further out there makes the incremental costs more and more expensive and the technological aspects less feasible.

    Rational people can argue about what level of “green” is appropriate for a building and their jurisdiction, and that is happening in many cities across the state.  Recently, policymakers in the City of Cupertino had such a discussion.  Urged on by green building advocates to adopt mandates mirroring upper levels of some private certification programs, the city council decided not to take that course of action at this time.

    Instead, the City of Cupertino has decided for the time being to focus its efforts on compliance with the new state mandated CALGreen provisions and then revisit the issue in 2012.  Here is an interesting article that outlines some of the issues they wrestled with when considering whether or not to adopt tougher standards.

    May 6

    CALIFORNIANS AGAINST HIGHER PROPERTY TAXES

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    We also want to make sure you know that the grassroots coalition “Californians Against Higher Property Taxes” (CAHPT) is out there to support our industry efforts on this issue.  We are very involved with this group that helps leverage the collective power of all groups that are impacted by property tax issues. 

    CAHPT was formed in 2008 to educate and inform California leaders and the public about the devastating impacts of increased property taxes, including split roll and reduced parcel tax thresholds. CAHPT is focused at the local level and is managing media outreach and is preparing communication pieces ‒ including Letters to the Editor, media talking points, backgrounders and op-eds to be placed throughout the state. If you would like more information on how to become directly involved with support of CAHPT, please contact us or click here for more information.

    May 6

    SPLIT ROLL PROPERTY TAX BILL COMING UP

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    AB 448 (Ammiano; D-San Francisco), a legislator’s latest attempt at creating a split roll in California, is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee. 

    AB 448 would impose higher taxes on publicly-traded property owners on stock market sales when no change of control actually takes place. In addition, other employers of all sizes that have had small ownership changes over a period of three years or less, where no change of control has occurred, could also trigger a property tax reassessment. The change in ownership provisions would cause all of a business’s property to be reassessed.

    In other words, AB 448 will force a change-in-ownership reassessment of a company’s property even if there has been no real change in actual control of the company.

    From what is known about the economic impacts of split roll, it remains a destructive, ill-advised idea. Such a move would imperil the state’s economy and would be one of the single most damaging tax policy changes that could occur in California.

    We plan on being there to oppose this measure.

    May 6

    LOCAL TAXATION BILL MOVES FOWARD

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Amid a statewide debate over how to balance California’s budget comes SB 653 (Steinberg; D-Sacramento) that would allow for taxes – to be imposed by local authorities.  The bill would allow local government (county, city, or even a school district) to impose a number of taxes which currently can only be levied by the state, upon voter approval . 

    If SB 653 were to go into effect and local governments were able to pass different local personal income tax rates, companies and individuals that operate in multiple jurisdictions would be subject to varying tax rates, and businesses, who would not be able to have a voice at the ballot box, would become the target source of funds for government spending.  Click here for more information on this bad idea.