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  • Archive for May 20th, 2011

    May 20

    BILL MANDATING HIRES MOVES FORWARD

    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 approved by the Assembly Labor Committee on a party-line vote 5 to 1 vote (all Democrats in favor, one Republican in opposition).

    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.

    The bill next moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

    May 20

    REDEVELOPMENT REFORM UPDATE – STILL ELIMINATED UNDER MAY REVISE

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    The battle for elimination of California Redevelopment continues, even after release of the Governor’s “May Revise.”  The Governor’s proposal for complete elimination of this funding remains as part of the plan, even though it has been met with stiff resistance by a broad coalition of local agencies, labor, business, affordable housing advocates, and even some environmentalists.

    We strongly support the Redevelopment program in California and are actively working with the California Redevelopment Association to push for reform – and continuation – of the program.  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 20

    FEDERAL BUILDING CODE PROPOSED FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) have introduced legislation that would greatly increase federal influence over state and local building codes concerning energy efficiency in commercial and residential buildings.  The bill, “S. 1000: The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011,” would establish aggressive annual efficiency goals and targets (overseen by the federal Department of Energy) on the path to so-called “zero-net-energy” for all new construction.  Zero-net-energy buildings are required to generate carbon-free energy on site as well as achieve particularly stringent efficiency levels.

    Politically predetermined levels of efficiency would be a radical departure from the traditional method for developing model energy codes through consensus-driven processes.  For example, each version of the ASHRAE 90.1 standards for commercial buildings is developed over a three-year period by a large group of technical experts drawn from the full spectrum of real estate practitioners.  In contrast, the zero-net-energy goal was concocted by an insular group of environmentalists and has been strongly promoted on Capitol Hill for several years.  Although this aggressive target has been rejected by Congress for the past six years in a row, Senators Shaheen and Portman have revived the effort with the introduction of their bill.

    Although every building owner and tenant wants to be energy efficient, there is tremendous diversity in the retail real estate sector in terms of business models, customer base, and goods and services provided.  To assume that all tenants and all landlords should achieve zero-net-energy requires a questionable leap of faith.  Yet if it becomes part of each state’s building code, property owners and tenants may find it extremely difficult to meet such standards without incurring excessive costs or making difficult compromises on a wide range of designs and services – not to mention the need to generate on-site electricity. 

    ICSC will continue to follow this issue and provide input to policy makers on the unique issues confronting multi-tenant retail and mixed-use developments.  For more information contact Kent Jeffreys.

    May 20

    ZERO NET ENERGY WORKSHOP SCHEDULED AT PUC

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    The Public Utilities Commission will conduct a public workshop on June 15 to discuss California’s policy goals relative to achieving “zero net energy” (ZNE) in all new commercial buildings by 2030.  While there is still debate over the definition of “zero net energy,” at a minimum this policy goal will require almost all of a building’s energy supply to come from on-site sources. In addition to cost concerns, there are also serious physical design constraints which must be addressed, as was shown by a recent technical report commissioned by BOMA California. 

    That report analysis showed that a very energy-efficient 15-story commercial building in Oakland would still need nine acres of solar panels to cover its annual energy needs under such a policy. If that building were to use every inch of rooftop space for solar, that energy system would only generate enough power to cover 4% of the needed power supply. 

    We support the state working towards the goal of ZNE, but caution against adopting “stretch goal” mandates that knowingly cannot be reached.  We are working with the state to consider other strategies in addition to ZNE, such as carbon-neutral buildings and neighborhoods, and increasing the overall supply of renewable energy at the source.

    The workshop is scheduled for June 15 in San Francisco.  Click here to read the state ZNE Action Plan, designed to identify the key actions required to achieve plan milestones, secure leaders for the steps to achieve these actions, and track and report on progress against the plan.

    May 20

    BILL ELIMINATES INDEMNITY ELIMINATION FOR NON-RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    SB 474 (Evans; D-Santa Rosa) passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a 3-2 vote and now heads for a Senate Floor Vote.  The measure would eliminate a general contractor’s and property owner’s ability to seek indemnity and defense from subcontractors in non-residential construction. 

    The bill applies to all public and private construction other than residential construction subject to SB 800. It would apply to individual homeowners seeking to remodel their home and to state and local governments.  In addition to property damage claims, it would apply to personal injury claims and the violation of any law.

    We are part of a large coalition opposed to this measure, which would be a boon for lawsuits but would stymie projects of all types and further damage the commercial real estate industry in the worst downturn we have suffered.

    May 20

    BILL TO BAN BIG RETAIL PROJECTS UP ON MONDAY

    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, will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday.  The bill earlier passed a Senate committee on a strict party line vote with five Democrats supporting the measure and two Republicans opposing.

    Under the guise of “assuring better planning decisions by local governments,” the bill inappropriately uses the state’s environmental laws to make it more difficult for certain retailers to complete projects.  Because of the terrible precedent it would set for anyone that is concerned about developing real estate, 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.

    We will let you know what happens at the hearing.

    May 20

    GOVERNOR RELEASES “MAY REVISE” BUDGET

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    On Monday, Governor Brown released his revised budget plan.  Known as the “May Revise,” this is an update meant to reflect the most current revenue numbers to the budget already submitted to the Legislature in January.

    According to the Governor’s office, the new budget still allows for a $10 billion structural deficit, but in the near term reduces by nearly $3 billion the amount of taxes needed to balance the budget for the coming year due to a slight uptick in revenues.  Since taking office in January, Brown and the legislature have cut spending by $9 billion and have taken other steps to reduce the deficit.

    With the new budget, the proposal to eliminate redevelopment remains unchanged.  However, the proposal to eliminate Enterprise Zones has been modified to allow for limited continuation of tax credits for new jobs. 

    Click here for more detail on the Budget.