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  • Archive for April, 2015

    Apr 30

    WATERS OF THE US RULE VOTE EXPECTED

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Our friends at ICSC in D.C. have let us know that H.R. 1732, “The Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015,” was introduced in the House April 13.

    This legislation would require the withdrawal of the current proposed rule to redefine “Waters of the U.S.,” and would direct EPA and the Corps to re-propose a new rule after transparent and robust consultation has occurred with affected governmental and private sector stakeholders. The bill passed on April 15 in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on a mostly party-line vote (Democratic Representatives Sean Patrick Maloney of New York and Cheri Bustos of Illinois broke party lines to vote in favor of the bill).

    The rule was sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on April 3 for interagency review and a timeline for the rule’s finalization is currently unknown. Similar legislation is expected to be introduced in the Senate in the coming week, and a vote on this House legislation is expected on Thursday, April 30.

    Please click here to urge your Representatives to support H.R. 1732.

    Apr 30

    “JOB CREATOR” BILLS IDENTIFIED

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    The California Chamber of Commerce released its list of job creator bills calling attention to the 11 bills that will improve the state’s job climate and stimulate the economy.  As proud members of the CalChamber and coalition partners on many issues under the Capitol Dome we are working with them to advance many of the bills that impact the commercial real estate industry.

    Since 2008, the CalChamber has identified bills that will improve the state’s job climate and stimulate the economy, designating these proposals as job creators. In general, the job creator bills include solutions that will enhance the state’s economy.

    JOB CREATORS:  CONSTRUCTION JOBS

    AB 35 (Chiu; D-San Francisco) Creates Affordable Housing Opportunities. Expands the existing low-income housing tax credit program, making the state better able to leverage an estimated $200 million more in Federal Tax Credits.

    AB 323 (Olsen; R-Modesto) Expedites and Reduces Cost for Roadway Repair and Maintenance Projects. Streamlines infrastructure development by extending indefinitely the current CEQA exemption for certain roadway repair and maintenance projects.

    AB 641​ (Mayes; R-Yucca Valley) Expedites and Reduces Cost for Housing Projects. Streamlines and reduces regulatory burdens for the approval and construction of housing developments by providing an expedited review process under the California Environmental Quality Act.

    JOB CREATORS:  IMPROVED LEGAL CLIMATE

    AB 52 (Gray; D-Merced) Disability Access Litigation Reform. Seeks to improve access for disabled customers and limit frivolous litigation against businesses for construction-related accessibility claims by providing an opportunity for the businesses to timely resolve any potential violations.

    AB 54 (Olsen; R-Modesto) Disability Access Litigation Reform. Seeks to improve access for disabled patrons without harming businesses through frivolous lawsuits by providing businesses with a 60-day right to correct the violation for a claim based upon a constructed related accessibility standard that was changed or modified in the prior three years.

    AB 588 (Grove; R-Bakersfield) Reduces Frivolous Litigation. Seeks to limit frivolous litigation under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act, by allowing an employer a 33 day right to cure technical violations on an itemized wage statement that did not cause any injury to the employee.

    AB 1252 (Jones; R-Santee) Protects Businesses from Proposition 65 Lawsuits. Provides needed relief to small businesses by prohibiting a person from bringing a Proposition 65 lawsuit against a business employing fewer than 25 employees. Failed passage in the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee, 04/14/15. Reconsideration Granted

    AB 1470 (Alejo; D-Salinas) Reduction of Costly Employment Class Action Litigation. Limits frivolous class action litigation against employers in California who are creating high paying jobs by creating a rebuttable​presumption that employees earning at least $100,000 and performing non-manual labor and at least one exempt duty are exempt from overtime requirements.

    SB 67 (Galgiani; D-Stockton) Disability Access Litigation Reform. Seeks to limit frivolous litigation against small businesses and those that have sought to comply, by limiting remedies to injunctive relief and expanding the current period to correct any violation from 60 to 120 days.

    JOB CREATORS:  WORKPLACE IMPROVEMENTS/TRAINING

    AB 1038 (Jones; R-Santee) Flexible Workweek. Provides employers with the opportunity to accommodate employees’ needs as well as business demands by allowing employees to request a voluntary, flexible workweek agreement that can be repealed by the employee at any time with proper notice. Failed passage in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee, 04/22/15. Reconsideration Granted.

     

    Apr 30

    JOB CREATORS: HISTORY OF ACTION

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    The CalChamber has provided some historical perspective on how the Legislature has treated past bills identified by the business community as high priorities to support.

    2014: 14 job creator bills identified, 5 sent to Governor, signs 5
    2013: 16 job creator bills identified, 2 sent to Governor, signs 2
    2012: 34 job creator bills identified, 9 sent to Governor, signs 9
    2011: 5 job creator bills identified, 0 sent to Governor
    2010: 16 job creator bills identified, 4 sent to Governor, signs 4
    2009: 18 job creator bills identified, 2 sent to Governor, signs 2
    2008: 3 job creator bills identified, 2 sent to Governor, signs 2

    Let’s hope 2015 is the best year for Job Creator bills ever.

     

    Apr 30

    CA CONTROLLER LAUNCHES EFFORT TO ANALYZE TAX REFORMS

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    According to a press release from the CA Controller:  With momentum building for comprehensive tax reform in California, State Controller Betty T. Yee today appointed a Council of Economic Advisors to assess the impact of proposals across the spectrum of taxpayer constituencies.

    The nine-member council will include experts from a variety of backgrounds including academia, economics, business, and government. The group’s core objective is to review and comment on the potential impacts of numerous tax reform proposals. Working with data from the California Board of Equalization, California Franchise Tax Board, and State Controller’s Office, the council members will assess the workability of proposals including practical effects, unintended consequences, and prospective alternatives. Controller Yee will convene the first meeting of the council in Sacramento in May.

    Click here for more information on the Controller’s Council of Economic Advisers.

    Apr 30

    WATER UPDATE: URBAN WATER USE REDUCTION MODIFIED; NOW 8% to 36%

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Two weeks ago the State Water Resources Control Board issued recommendations for meeting the mandate of cutting water use in the state by 25%, dividing communities into four tiers of water use and assigning a targets – from 10% to 35% – for reductions.  On Friday, they released a revised version of this plan which expands the tiers number of tiers to 9 and broadens the range of targeted reductions from 8% to 36%.

    Of the 400 water agencies in the state, 94 will have to reduce water use by the maximum amount, 36 percent. Twenty three agencies fall in the lowest reduction tier, 8 percent.

    Want to know what your water agency’s target is? Click here to see the spreadsheet.

    You can also see the draft regulations here.

    Apr 30

    WATER UPDATE: COURT REJECTS TIERED WATER PRICING

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Court rejects San Juan Capistrano’s tiered water rates, which could have statewide implications, Click here for the article.

    Apr 30

    WATER UPDATE: GOVERNOR REACTS TO SJC COURT CASE

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued the following statement on the 4th District Court of Appeal decision regarding the City of San Juan Capistrano’s tiered water rates:

    “The practical effect of the court’s decision is to put a straitjacket on local government at a time when maximum flexibility is needed. My policy is and will continue to be: employ every method possible to ensure water is conserved across California.”

    The decision is being reviewed by the state’s lawyers. To learn more about the state’s drought response, visit Drought.CA.Gov. Every Californian should take steps to conserve water. Find out how at SaveOurWater.com

    Apr 30

    GOVERNOR MEETS WITH BUSINESS LEADERS ABOUT WATER DROUGHT

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Last week Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. convened officials representing a broad array of leaders that impact water usage at non-residential properties, including landscape, golf, home and garden, spa and pool, cemetery and mortuary, building and manufacturing, retail, restaurant and hospitality industries.  Rex Hime, President and CEO of California Business Properties Associations, was included and represented the commercial, industrial, and retail real estate industry.

    The Governor set the stage for the discussion by noting, “The key challenge here – aside from getting the water – is to be able to collaborate together.  We’re going to rise to the occasion as Californians first and as members of different groups second.”

    The meeting was meant to address the state’s first ever 25 percent statewide mandatory water reductions and a series of actions initiated by the state to help conserve water

    Hime made it clear that our industry believes that water conservation is not just good public policy but it makes good business sense. He pointed out that numerous internal and external changes have already been done to reduce water needs and that the industry has in some instances already met the reductions sought by the Governor.

    Brown stressed it was going to be important to work with the local water agencies in adopting appropriate policies.

    The Governor’s initial Executive Order includes measures to help: replace lawns with drought tolerant landscaping and old appliances with more water and energy efficient models; cut water use at campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes; prevent potable water irrigation at new developments unless water-efficient drip systems are used; and stop watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.

    Members of the press came into the room at the end of the meeting and asked the Governor and participants questions.

    Click here for the news story about the meeting.

    Apr 29

    Title 24 May Be Costly and Difficult to Implement

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    The California Energy Commissioner’s 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards- or simply referred to as “Title 24” or “Energy Code”­ are historically the greatest increase

    in stringency (27%) since the beginning  of the California energy  code. If you  have. done any type of construction -from a simple tenant improvement to a major renovation  you may have felt the impact of this most recent adoption .

    Most of the items in the new code are non-controversial and have proven easy to adopt. However, in order to get such large theoretical increases in energy code stringency required mandated  changes that are not necessarily  proven or widely adopted construction practices and/or are requiring equipment  that  is  not  widely available.             ·

    These new requirements that are not market-proven, accepted in the building code, and in many cases not vetted for their intended use by the building and inspection trades, have proven to have real cost increases, in many cases to a factor of four over what the Energy Commission based its adoption on.

    Some of  our  members  are reporting  actual  costs of $10-$14 _per square foot to meet  the lighting control standards in retail and office buildings.  At  the time of  adoption , these costs were estimated to be $3 per square foot. To wit:

    •  Light controls have driven prices up $4-7 per square foot just  in material cost.
    • Installation of the mandatory controls is coming in about $3-4 a foot based on the project  design.
    • Mandatory  acceptance  testing depending  on project  size is $1,000  minimum .
    • Mandatory engineered drawings (around a $1 square foot on average).
    • Light fixture costs are up  10-20% based  on  mandatory dimming features.
    • HVAC costs are going up due to necessary control upgrades also.

    This is a huge expense driver  and is having  unintended  consequences once these new costs are calculated. This “sticker shock,” in some cases, is causing planned energy upgrades  to be abandoned  altogether. In other  instances, companies  are wastefully  being  required   to  replace lights that have never been used and are only a couple years  old.

    A primary goal of California Long-Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan is to reduce greenhouse gas through energy efficiency. The greatest opportunity to reduce energy consumption in commercial buildings is to improve the energy efficiency of existing commercial buildings,  and the commercial real estate industry supports efforts to cost effectively improve energy efficiency in California’s commercial buildings and emphasizes that the Energy Commission should focus their efforts on reducing the already drastic cost impacts of the 2013 Standards by offering reasonable alternatives for compliance, dialing back some of the requirements that are proving not to be cost effective, and focusing more efforts on education and training .

    We have offered the Commission opportunities to “ground truth” assumptions that were used during the original adoption, and we hope they will look at the actual economic impacts of the regulations and see if they align with what was presented during the adoption to assure they are indeed cost effective. Our industry believes that a realistic cost-benefit analysis and adopting only regulations  that are truly cost  effective are essential in assuring the state continues to be a leader in energy efficiency while not hurting project viability or dissuading some projects from happening because of high costs and low-energy savings.

    Furthermore, many of the calculated cost savings on many of the latest Title 24 changes will never be realized, because  they are 10-year or longer payback periods (which, in many cases is longer than the useful life of the upgrade itself.

    On behalf of the commercial, industrial, and retail real estate sectors, we will continue to work with the state regulators in an effort to assure that California continues to set the national benchmark on efficient buildings while making sure those standards are cost effective, technologically feasible, and attain able by businesses in this state.

    Click here for a link to the article.

    Apr 17

    GOVERNOR MEETS WITH BUSINESS LEADERS ABOUT WATER DROUGHT

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Yesterday Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. convened officials representing a broad array of leaders that impact water usage at non-residential properties, including landscape, golf, home and garden, spa and pool, cemetery and mortuary, building and manufacturing, retail, restaurant and hospitality industries.  Rex Hime, President and CEO of California Business Properties Associations, was included and represented the commercial, industrial, and retail real estate industry.

    The Governor set the stage for the discussion by noting, “The key challenge here – aside from getting the water – is to be able to collaborate together.  We’re going to rise to the occasion as Californians first and as members of different groups second.”

    The meeting was meant to address the state’s first ever 25 percent statewide mandatory water reductions and a series of actions initiated by the state to help conserve water

    Hime made it clear that our industry believes that water conservation is not just good public policy but it makes good business sense. He pointed out that numerous internal and external changes have already been done to reduce water needs and that the industry has in some instances already met the reductions sought by the Governor.

    Brown stressed it was going to be important to work with the local water agencies in adopting appropriate policies.

    The Governor’s initial Executive Order includes measures to help: replace lawns with drought tolerant landscaping and old appliances with more water and energy efficient models; cut water use at campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes; prevent potable water irrigation at new developments unless water-efficient drip systems are used; and stop watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.

    Members of the press came into the room at the end of the meeting and asked the Governor and participants questions.

    Click here for the news story about the meeting.

    Apr 17

    DROUGHT ACTIONS

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    There is a lot going on – from regional targets in water reductions to new appliance standards for faucets, showers, and toilets – and there are a lot of source documents and local decisions that will need to be made if you want to assure you are complying with the requirements.

    But more importantly, many of the decisions that will have a direct and immediate impact on your buildings are going to happen at the local level.  We have already seen the water board apportion out reduction targets in recognition that some areas of the state have done more to conserve than others (based on per capita).

    Please work with your local real estate association professionals, coordinate with other owners and managers, and get to know your local water decision makers.  It is incumbent on our industry to help guide good policy through the process.

    CBPA held a water policy briefing with over 40 real estate leaders from commercial real estate, has met with Water Board leaders, Energy Commission staff, and has been coordinating with local real estate groups.  Our industry needs action at all levels to address this crisis head on, and we appreciate the fact that our members are stepping-up and being part of the solution.

    As Rex Hime says, “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.”

    Apr 17

    MANDATORY 25% WATER REDUCTIONS ANNOUNCED IN CALIFORNIA

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Let’s start from the top, as we reported two weeks ago, California Governor Jerry Brown announced an Executive Order mandating statewide water restrictions to reduce water usage by 25% over the next nine-months.

    We applaud the Governor for taking action to address the state’s drought.  In past years, on behalf of the commercial, industrial, and retail real estate industry, CBPA has provided input to, and thoroughly reviewed the State’s plans for water efficiency, supported legislation to implement strategic plans, and advocated for more storage and conveyance.  We again stand with the Governor and support his calls for more water savings and have been at several meeting this week to provide input.

    Most of our members have done a great job reducing water usage over the past five years and have set the pace in terms of innovating with gray water and drought tolerant urban landscaping.  This has been acknowledged and appreciated, however, the Governor is asking urban water users to do more, and in the immediate

    In addition to saving water, however, we continue to point out that California’s water system is in great need of improvements.  Our population is expected to grow by more than 600,000 people each year, mushrooming the population to as many as 48 million by 2020; DWR projections show that this growth could increase annual water demands by 6 million acre feet by 2030; and recent studies predict that 25% of the snowpack, which is our largest water storage system, will be lost by 2050.  This last prediction seemed far-fetched several years ago, however the visual of the Governor standing in a meadow with a long pole and no snow has shown the realness of the concern.

    To accommodate for growth as well as these anticipated hydrological changes, California must be prepared to manage our water in a comprehensive, efficient manner.  There are many impediments to doing so, including a tangible shortage of facilities, the lack of effective conveyance, and problems with the Delta.

    Here are the source materials for the Governor’s water conservation mandates – the Executive Order provides the roadmap to where action is going to be taken:

    Governor’s Synopsis of Mandatory Water Reductions

    California Executive Order B-29-15

    These actions follow the enactment of a $1 billion water package signed last week for local drought relief and infrastructure projects to make the state’s water infrastructure more resilient.

    The water shortfall is evident, the disaster is eminent, unless we act to help our state navigate its way out of this crisis.