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  • Archive for October, 2013

    Oct 21

    SCORING ON BUSINESS RELATED BILLS

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Our friend Joel Fox, Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee, provides an assessment of how business backed bills fared in the Legislature and with the Governor.

    He states, in part, “A mixed record for business in this year’s legislative session got a bit of a boost when the governor signed a slew of bills intended to help business. While the latest flurry of bill signings is good news, big issues still concern the business community.

    “The ballyhooed effort at the beginning of the legislative session to improve the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) ended in a whimper. What CEQA reform was achieved came about because politicians in Sacramento wanted to make it easier to build a basketball arena in downtown Sacramento. Broader CEQA reforms were benched.”

    Click here to read the full article.

    Oct 21

    ADA COMPLIANCE UPDATE

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Are you up to speed on all the recent changes to ADA that impact your business?  Many changes in the past few years have been adopted.  The best way to avoid a lawsuit is to be in compliance and to know your rights.  For more detailed information regarding compliance/policy issues related to recent reforms, see this ADA compliance and litigation update, which includes the list “TOP 10 Demand Letters & Claims.”

    Oct 21

    PREPARED FOR CALGREEN UPDATES?

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    The newest updates to the state Green Building Code, better known as “CALGreen,” will be effective on January 1, 2014.  Are you prepared?

    CALGreen, the nation’s first statewide green building code, was originally developed in 2008 has been a mandatory part of the building code since January 1, 2011. CALGreen establishes uniform minimum green building standard aimed at reducing the environmental impact of residential, commercial, and public building construction practices.

    CALGreen applies throughout the full life of a building – from design to construction, operation and occupancy – and focuses on a wide variety of issues from energy efficiency, water efficiency and conservation, to indoor air quality.  The code applies to all new construction and most tenant improvements.

    Here is the current code for commercial (free electronic copies of the new code are not available at this time):   CALGreen Third Edition January 2012 including changes effective July 1, 2012 

    Here is a summary of the CALGreen changes effective January 1, 2014.

    You should be working closely with design and construction teams to make sure you project – new or an improvement – meets all relevant local codes.  CALGreen is just a statewide minimum. Several jurisdictions have adopted local code requirements that go above and beyond the state building code.

    Oct 21

    RESIDENTIAL RENT CONTROL BILL VETOED

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    We are pleased to let you know that Governor Brown has vetoed AB 1229, which we have been opposing along with a large coalition of partners led by CBIA, Association of Realtors, and several regional apartment associations.

    While intended as a legislative response to a California Appellate court decision (Palmer/Sixth Street Properties, L.P. v. City of Los Angeles) upholding the vacancy decontrol provisions of the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, AB 1229 was a “remedy” that goes far beyond the holding in Palmer and condones the imposition of costly price-controls on new, market-rate residential construction. These provisions would have also provided an artificial bottleneck for approval of commercial projects.

    We applaud Governor Brown for his VETO of this measure, in which he stated, in part, “As Mayor of Oakland, I saw how difficult it can be to attract development to low and middle income communities.  Requireing developers to include below-market units in their projects can exacerbate these challenges, even whiule not meaningfully increasing the amount of affordable housing in a given community.”

    Click here to read the full AB 1229 VETO message.

    Oct 21

    BILL IDEAS FOR 2014

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Additionally, before the Legislature reconvenes in January we need your ideas on proactive changes to the law that our industry should consider pursuing.  Are there issues in statute that could be made better, more efficacious?  Something not addressed in statute that should be?  Let us know.

    Oct 21

    INTERIM RECESS

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Now that the California Legislative Sign/Veto Deadline has passed, the official legislative activity in Sacramento will go into repose until early January.  However, there is no rest for weary, and although legislators are back home in their districts, there is still activity that we are participating in.  Regulatory hearings will continue throughout the Fall.

    Oct 15

    PROP. 65 ENFORCEMENT REFORM SIGNED BY GOVERNOR

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Another measure we have been supporting has been signed by Governor Brown. AB 227 (Gatto; D-Silver Lake) reforms Proposition 65 and will help shield businesses from some frivolous lawsuits. The bill allows business owners who receive notice of a technical Prop. 65 signage violation to fourteen days to get into compliance and pay a civil fine – instead of going to court. In certain cases, if a business complies, they also are protected from certain types of legal action and from the $2,500 per-day retroactive fines.

    The author of the measure Assemblymember Gatto stated the following, “This bill won’t halt all Proposition 65 lawsuits, but will halt almost all unjust Proposition 65 lawsuits.”

    The bill addresses one very avoidable cost that results from the practice of a handful of law firms in targeting businesses with drive-by lawsuits alleging they do not have adequate signage required by Proposition 65. These lawsuits can easily cost several thousand dollars to litigate, causing many small businesses to settle out of court whether or not they actually needed to have signage posted at their business establishments, or if they failed to realize signage was necessary in a good faith mistake.

    We thank the Governor for signing this important measure. Click here to read the new law – AB 227 (Gatto).

    Oct 15

    GREEN BUILDING STANDARD PROCESS BILL SIGNED BY GOVERNOR

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Governor Brown has signed AB 341 (Dickinson; D-Sacramento), an industry supported measure that requires the Building Standards Commission (BSC) to integrate the existing Green Building Code (CALGreen) into the appropriate sections of the California Building Code, thereby making the code easier to understand and comply with.

    AB 341 also establishes a clearer process for allowing “non-proposing” agencies to submit suggested amendments to the Department of Housing and the Building Standards Commission. If enacted, this bill will make understanding of the “green” provisions of the building code easier to identify and comply with.  The bill will also provide state agencies, industry, local officials and the interested public with a clearer understanding of the code-submittal and adoption process.

    We thank the Governor for signing this common sense measure. Click here to read the new law – AB 341 (Dickinson).

    Oct 15

    TMD/BID REFORM BILL SIGNED BY GOVERNOR

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Governor Brown has signed AB 483 (Ting; D-San Francisco), a bill supported by the California Downtown Association as well other property groups. AB 483 will help protect important economic development tools – Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and Tourism Marketing Districts (TMDs) from an unintended ambiguity in Prop 26 which inadvertently created potential legal uncertainty over these district’s ability to privately fund marketing and promotional activities.

    TMDs and BIDs have been critical to the success of the tourism industry, especially during the recent economic downturn when support for tourism – previously provided by local governments – dried up due to budget constraints. TMDs and BIDs are voluntarily formed by businesses to impose an assessment on themselves to privately fund services that benefit those businesses.

    AB 483 clarifies that any incidental benefit from a TMD or BID to a business located outside a district’s boundary does not violate the law.

    We thank the Governor for signing this important measure. Click here to read the new law – AB 483 (Ting).

    Oct 15

    BILL EXPANDING RESIDENTIAL RENT CONTROL STILL AWAITING ACTION

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    A bill that would enable price controls on new residential rental units has passed the Legislature and is now on the Governor’s Desk awaiting action. AB 1229 (Atkins; D-San Diego) allows local governments to mandate “inclusionary housing” requirements on private property owners and force them to set aside a certain percentage of new housing for low-income rental units. The bill passed the Senate Floor this week with the bare minimum of needed votes (21-16) with two Democrats joining 14 Republican in opposing the measure.

    The bill also restrict rental rates, operational costs, and does not require any type of public offsets for providing the housing. The bill is intended to abrogate the Palmer v. City of Los Angeles decision, which upheld an important provision of the long-standing Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act exempting newly constructed rental units from price controls.

    Rental housing is desperately needed. At a time when rental housing is scarce, it makes no sense to discourage the building of new rental units. AB 1229 discourages the creation of new rental housing. The bill would make it a virtual certainty that local jurisdictions with rent control ordinances would expand such regulatory provisions to include new construction, discouraging the development of rental housing, at a time when it is most needed.

    The Legislature has twice rejected similar bills and expressed opposition to expanding rent control to new construction. However, with the new partisan makeup of Legislature this policy may have a better chance of success. We are also concerned that if passed, this bill would directly lead to similar constraints placed on commercial projects.

    We join with a large coalition of allied groups and are requesting that the Governor veto this measure.

    Oct 15

    SCORING ON BUSINESS RELATED BILLS

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Our friend Joel Fox, Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee, provides an assessment of how business backed bills fared in the Legislature and with the Governor.

    He states, in part, “A mixed record for business in this year’s legislative session got a bit of a boost when the governor signed a slew of bills intended to help business. While the latest flurry of bill signings is good news, big issues still concern the business community.

    “The ballyhooed effort at the beginning of the legislative session to improve the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) ended in a whimper. What CEQA reform was achieved came about because politicians in Sacramento wanted to make it easier to build a basketball arena in downtown Sacramento. Broader CEQA reforms were benched.”

    Click here to read the full article.

    Oct 15

    STATE REVENUE UPTICKS UNEXPECTEDLY

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Earlier this week, State Controller John Chiang released his agencies monthly report on California’s cash balance, receipts and disbursements for September 2013. Revenues for the month totaled $8.5 billion, beating estimates in the state budget by $426.8 million, or 5.3 percent. We hope this is a sign that the economy and the state finances are heading in the right direction.