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  • Archive for January, 2015

    Jan 30

    FORMULA RETAIL IN SF – WATCHING STATEWIDE

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    The wonderfully named “California Peculiarities Employment Law Blog” has a piece on the recently passed “San Francisco Retail Workers Bill of Rights.” Everyone in the commercial, industrial, and/or retail real estate industry should be aware of this law as proponents are already trying to get it adopted in other jurisdictions and there are strong indications that statewide legislation will be introduced.

    Although the measure targets the working relationship between “formula retailers,” defined as businesses with 20 or more locations worldwide that employ 20 or more employees within San Francisco, it also has a huge impact on commercial real estate landlords that have such businesses as tenants.  In particular there is language in the measure that creates “successor employer” obligations similar to AB 350 which was defeated over four years ago, and the measure will apply to certain classes of property service personnel such as janitors.

    A large coalition of employers has already started meeting with legislators to prepare to push back on any bill that would attempt to bring this law to the state as a whole.  We also want to make sure that if you hear of local efforts to push such a measure, you coordinate with other employers, employer groups, and your local association, to educate policymakers as to why this restrictive policy would actually hurt the very employees it ostensibly is meant to help.

    A more detailed review of the measure can also be found here by Clicking here.

    The San Francisco Chamber led the opposition to the measure that went into law without the Mayor’s signature.

    You can read their letter by Clicking here.

    Jan 30

    EV-CHARGING AND PARKING ACCESSIBILITY

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Over the past six months, there has been a growing level of controversy focusing on whether electric vehicle parking spaces should be accessible to those with disabilities.  In response, the Building Standards Commission directed the Division of the State Architect (DSA) to convene a group of stakeholders to identify key issues and make recommendations that would be used by DSA in developing amendments to California’s disabled accessibility building standards.  To date, DSA has conducted six workshops with the seventh planned for February 11th.

    BOMA has been represented at each of these gatherings and the Governor’s Office is now actively engaged with this group as well.

    Of the many issues that have been identified, the two of greatest concern to industry is “what” and “how many.”  Regarding “how many,” some advocates would like to see every EV-charging station (100%) meet the dimensional specifications required for “van-accessible” parking spaces.  This would require parking spaces to be roughly 17-20 feet in width instead of the standard 8-9 feet, effectively taking out at least two parking spaces for each EV-charging station installed.  On behalf of our members we supporting the currently held notion that EV-Charging is a “service” and should be treated no differently than other services which require the standard “4%” accessibility application rule.  Moving to a “100%” suggested by the advocates for the disabled community would unnecessary complicate compliance and could ultimately cause less EV-Charging installations to happen.

    We are participating in the February 11th workshop and are providing comment on the draft regulation prior to being submitted to the Building Standards Commission for processing in the Triennial Code Cycle (effective 1/1/17).

    Jan 30

    EV-READY BUILDING STANDARDS SET TO TAKE EFFECT 7/1/15

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    In response to an Executive Order issued by the Governor in late-2012, the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) and the Department of Housing & Community Development (HCD) have adopted regulations to require the installation of Electric Vehicle (EV) ready infrastructure.  As opposed to installing fully operational (and costly) charging stations for electric vehicles, these “EV-ready” building standards would be limited to items which would facilitate the later installation of the charging stations at a significantly reduced cost.

    For example, new commercial buildings having parking lots containing more than 49 spaces will be required to have an electrical panel with enough empty plug slots to allow for the later installation of EV charging equipment.  In addition, there will also need to be one-inch wide conduit (piping) provided for the later installation of the wiring connecting the electrical panel with a point in close proximity to the designated EV service space.

    Environmental organizations and the Air Resource Board (ARB) had argued for the installation of fully functioning EV charging facilities, however, after hearing concerns expressed by us, the CBSC has chosen to move forward with only “EV-ready” regulations.  Doing this also helps avoid issues related to disabled accessibility that will take much longer to resolve.

    For commercial building parking facilities, the required number of EV-Ready parking spaces shall be 1 EV-ready space for every 50 parking spaces.

    These new EV-Ready building standards will apply to projects for which the permit application is submitted to the local building department on or after July 1, 2015.

    Jan 30

    ENERGY CODE; WIRING ALTERATIONS FACT SHEET

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    The Nonresidential Lighting Wiring Alterations changes in the latest version of the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards has caused some confusion and consternation that we have brought to the attention of the Energy Commission.  In order to help with compliance they have put together a fact sheet that may help, and may save some time, effort, and capital.

    Click here.

    For assistance with understanding or locating information in the 2013 Energy Standards, contact the Energy Standards Hotline at: (800) 772-3300 (toll-free in California) or via email at title24@energy.ca.gov.

     

    Jan 30

    PPIC POLL SHOWS QUERIES ABOUT PROPOSITION 13

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    The most recent PPIC poll asked Californians about a wide variety of topics.  Collectively we gave Governor Jerry Brown a record-high job approval rating.  His budget proposal also has strong bipartisan support.  Strong majorities favor the governor’s plan to require that state employees start contributing to their retirement health coverage.  Extension of taxes in Prop. 30 are also supported.

    However, of particular interest, are the following results regarding Proposition 13… From the press release:

    The survey also asked about potential changes to Proposition 13 that are being discussed. One is to create a “split roll” in which commercial property is taxed according to current market value but Proposition 13 limitations remain in place for residential property. A slim majority (54%) favor a split roll tax. Support is at its lowest point since PPIC began asking the question in January 2012 (60%). Proposition 13 also requires a two-thirds majority at the ballot box for new local special taxes. Should the vote threshold be lowered to 55 percent? Californians are divided on the question, with 46 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed. When Californians are asked their general views of Proposition 13, a record-high 61 percent say it has been mostly a good thing for the state.

    Click here to read the full release and see the poll.

    Jan 30

    NEW LEGISLATION

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    With the start of the 2015-2016 Legislative Session we are starting to see new bills introduced.  Legislators can introduce new measure up until the “Bill Introduction Deadline,” on February 27.  We expect up to 2,500 introductions, with a large majority of them coming the two weeks before the deadline.  We are reading every bill that is introduced and identifying those that may have an impact on your business.

    Jan 23

    ENERGY CODE; WIRING ALTERATIONS FACT SHEET

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    The Nonresidential Lighting Wiring Alterations changes in the latest version of the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards has caused some confusion and consternation that we have brought to the attention of the Energy Commission.  In order to help with compliance they have put together a fact sheet that may help, and may save some time, effort, and capital.

    Click here more information.

    For assistance with understanding or locating information in the 2013 Energy Standards, contact the Energy Standards Hotline at: (800) 772-3300 (toll-free in California) or via email at title24@energy.ca.gov.

     

    Jan 23

    NEW LEGISLATION

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    With the start of the 2015-2016 Legislative Session we are starting to see new bills introduced.  Legislators can introduce new measure up until the “Bill Introduction Deadline,” on February 27.  We expect up to 2,500 introductions, with a large majority of them coming the two weeks before the deadline.  Below are a few bills of interest that have been introduced to far.

    MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE

    SB 3 (Leno D) Minimum wage: adjustment.

    Existing law requires that, on and after July 1, 2014, the minimum wage for all industries be not less than $9 per hour. Existing law further increases the minimum wage, on and after January 1, 2016, to not less than $10 per hour. This bill would increase the minimum wage, on and after January 1, 2016, to not less than $11 per hour, on and after July 1, 2017, to not less than $13 per hour. The bill would require the annual automatic adjustment of the minimum wage, commencing January 1, 2019, to maintain employee purchasing power diminished by the rate of inflation during the previous year. The adjustment would be calculated using the California Consumer Price Index, as specified. The bill would prohibit the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) from adjusting the minimum wage downward and from adjusting the minimum wage if the average percentage of inflation for the previous year was negative. The bill would require the IWC to publicize the automatically adjusted minimum wage.

    SICK LEAVE BILL

    SB 29 (Beall D) Employment: sick leave.

    Existing law requires an employer to allow an employee to use his or her sick leave to care for an ill spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child, as defined. This bill would make technical, nonsubstantive changes to that provision and is currently a “spot bill” and one to watch.

    CEQA BILL

    SB 122 (Jackson D) California Environmental Quality Act: record of proceedings.

    This bill is the starting point to where discussions left off last year with the Senate EQ Committee killed the primarty CEQA reform bill in 2014.

    The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires a lead agency, as defined, to prepare, or cause to be prepared, and certify the completion of, an environmental impact report (EIR) on a project that it proposes to carry out or approve that may have a significant effect on the environment or to adopt a negative declaration if it finds that the project will not have that effect. CEQA also requires a lead agency to prepare a mitigated negative declaration for a project that may have a significant effect on the environment if revisions in the project would avoid or mitigate that effect and there is no substantial evidence that the project, as revised, would have a significant effect on the environment. CEQA establishes a procedure for the preparation and certification of the record of proceedings upon the filing of an action or proceeding challenging a lead agency’s action on the grounds of noncompliance with CEQA. This bill would require the lead agency, at the request of a project applicant and consent of the lead agency, to prepare a record of proceedings concurrently with the preparation of a negative declaration, mitigated negative declaration, EIR, or other environmental document for projects.

    APARTMENT WATER SUBMETERS

    SB 7 (Wolk D) Housing: water meters: multiunit structures.

    (1) Existing law generally regulates the hiring of dwelling units and, among other things, imposes certain requirements on landlords and tenants. Among these requirements, existing law requires landlords to provide tenants with certain notices or disclosures pertaining to, among other things, pest control and gas meters. This bill would express the intent of the Legislature to encourage the conservation of water in multifamily residential rental buildings through means either within the landlord’s or the tenant’s control, and to ensure that the practices involving the submetering of dwelling units for water service are just and reasonable, and include appropriate safeguards for both tenants and landlords. This bill contains other related provisions and other existing laws.

    ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

    AB 2 (Alejo D) Community revitalization authority.

    The Community Redevelopment Law authorizes the establishment of redevelopment agencies in communities to address the effects of blight, as defined by means of redevelopment projects financed by the issuance of bonds serviced by tax increment revenues derived from the project area. Existing law dissolved redevelopment agencies and community development agencies, as of February 1, 2012, and provides for the designation of successor agencies to wind down the affairs of the dissolved agencies and to fulfill the enforceable obligations of those agencies. Existing law also provides for various economic development programs that foster community sustainability and community and economic development initiatives throughout the state. This bill would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would authorize certain local agencies to form a community revitalization authority within a community revitalization and investment area, as defined, to carry out provisions of the Community Redevelopment Law in that area for purposes related to, among other things, infrastructure, affordable housing, and economic revitalization, and to provide for the financing of these activities by, among other things, the issuance of bonds serviced by tax increment revenues.

    SB 45 (Mendoza D) Economic development.Existing law provides for various economic development programs throughout the state that foster community sustainability and community and economic development. Existing law also authorizes local agencies to finance the purchase, construction, expansion, improvement, or rehabilitation of certain types of facilities. This bill would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would authorize local governmental entities to use tax increment financing for the development of economic planning, infrastructure, and educational facilities.

    Jan 23

    ADA LAWSUIT REFORM

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Below are three bills regarding reformation of ADA “drive-by” lawsuits.  We expect several more bills on this topic.

    SB 67 (Galgiani D)   Disability access: statutory damages.

    Summary: Would except a small business from statutory damage liability in connection with a construction-related accessibility claim, and would instead limit recovery to injunctive relief and reasonable attorney’s fees as deemed appropriate by the court. The bill would also extend the period for correcting construction-related violations that are the basis of a claim from 60 days to 120 days of being served with the complaint, for purposes of reducing a defendant’s minimum statutory damage liability to $1000.

       

    AB 52 (Gray D)   Public accommodations: construction-related accessibility claims.

    Would provide that a defendant’s maximum liability for statutory damages in a construction-related accessibility claim against a place of public accommodation is $1,000 for each offense if the defendant has corrected all construction-related violations that are the basis of the claim within 180 days of being served with the complaint and the defendant demonstrates that the structure or area of the alleged violation was determined to meet standards or was subjected to an inspection, as specified.

    AB 54 (Olsen R)   Public accommodations: construction-related accessibility claims.

    Would, when a plaintiff brings a claim alleging a violation of a construction-related accessibility standard within 3 years of a change in that standard, allow a plaintiff to collect statutory damages only if the plaintiff also provides the owner, agent, or other party responsible for the place in violation with a written notice or demand letter at least 60 days prior to filing any action and the violation is not cured. The bill would require the written notice or demand letter to contain specified information.

    Click on the bill number to read the full text.

    Jan 23

    “CALL BEFORE YOU DIG” REFORM

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    This bill seeks to reform the state’s “call before you dig – 811” system.  The current version of the bill removes all exemptions from calling.  Question is, would this impact your operations?  Are there instances where you break the surface of the ground that should not trigger a call.  We’d like to hear from you.

    SB 119 (Hill D)   Protection of subsurface installations.

    Would require the Contractors’ State License Board to adopt a program to enforce violations of provisions relating to excavation. The bill would authorize the board to require a contractor to undergo training, levy a fine, and suspend a contractor’s license for a violation.

    Click the bill number to read the text.

     

    Jan 23

    GOVERNOR’S GHG REDUCTION GOALS

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Last week the Governor offered the following goals in his State of the Union speech to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state:

    “In fact, we are well on our way to meeting our AB 32 goal of reducing carbon pollution and limiting the emissions of heat-trapping gases to 431 million tons by 2020. But now, it is time to establish our next set of objectives for 2030 and beyond.

    “Toward that end, I propose three ambitious goals to be accomplished within the next 15 years:

    1. Increase from one-third to 50 percent our electricity derived from renewable sources;

    2. Reduce today’s petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent;

    3. Double the efficiency of existing buildings and make heating fuels cleaner.”

    To meet these goals we expect a combination of legislation, regulation, and Executive Orders that may impact a wide variety of commercial real estate operations.  From new building energy standards, increased operational efficiencies of HVAC and ductwork, solar installations, to more EV Charging stations.

    We are sharing proposals as they are offered, but want to be proactive and see what policy ideas our members may have and/or support that could help the state meet these goals.

    Jan 21

    PRESIDENT SIGNS TRIA REAUTHORIZATION

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Earlier this week President Obama signed into law the “Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2015,” (H.R. 26).  Just last week the bill passed Congress by large margins in both houses – making this the first bill passed by the new Congress.

    The bill extends the terrorism insurance program that expired on December 31, 2014 by six years. It increases the insurer co-pay from 15 percent to 20 percent, gradually increases the program’s trigger from $100 million to $200 million, and increases the recoupment amount by $10 billion, to $37.5 billion. These changes represent several years of negotiations between the House, Senate and business community.

    All of our national organization have been very active in making this happen, but we want to especially thank ICSC, RILA, BOMA, and NAIOP for going above and beyond to provide the leadership and advocacy needed to make this happen!  They have worked together for several years with Congress to draft and support a compromise bill that ensures the continued availability and affordability of coverage for terrorism risk in the commercial marketplace.

    Click here for a story from The Hill about TRIA reauthorization and what it means to Commercial Real Estate.