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  • Archive for January, 2017

    Jan 27

    STATE-OF-THE-STATE

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    Governor Brown delivered his “State of the State” address earlier this week, a speech in which he highlighted sharpened lines between the state and federal governments and implored citizens to “Act as Californian’s first.”

    In his remarks he quoted Woody Guthrie, discussed plans for infrastructure, and took some of his time to swear in new California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

    Click here to read the speech as written, which ends with the defiant line directed to the new Administration in Washington D.C., “California is not turning back. Not now, not ever.”

    Jan 27

    BILL REQUIRES ALL RESIDENTIAL PROJECTS

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    AB 199 (Chu; D-San Jose) introduced this week would require private residential projects built on private property that are built pursuant to an agreement with the state or a political subdivision to meet the requirements for projects that are defined as “public works.”

    This bill has many very concerned in that it would make already scarce affordable housing even more difficult to build by unnecessarily increasing costs to build.  Companies that focus on commercial real estate are also concerned in that if the Legislature decides to apply public works requirements on housing projects of this type, it could very easily lead to similar requirements on non-residential.

    Jan 27

    SOLAR MANDATE COMING?

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    SB 71 (Weiner; D-San Francisco) is a “spot bill” that states the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would require the installation of solar photovoltaic systems or solar water heating systems in solar zones provided for pursuant to Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations.  According to the author’s office, they are looking into expanding San Francisco’s recently passed solar and green roofs mandate statewide.

    Under current law, the Title 24 solar-ready requirement requires a minimum area that is unshaded and free of obstructions.  It can be on the roof or overhang of the building, on the roof or overhang of another structure within 250 feet of the primary building, or it can be on covered parking installed with the building project.  The Standards allow for two methods of calculating the required area.  Method 1 is just 15% of the roof area.  Method 2 is more complicated and allows for a reduced minimum area based on a “potential solar zone” that factors in limited access due to shading.

    Our current understanding is that the bill would require that new buildings take the next step and actually install PV.

    The solar-ready requirement applies to newly constructed hotel/motel occupancies with 10 stories or fewer, high-rise multifamily buildings with 10 stories or fewer, and all other nonresidential buildings with three stories or fewer.  It is also mandatory for additions where the total roof area is increased by at least 2,000 square feet.

    Click here to see a press release from Senator Weiner.

    We will keep you posted as the bill evolves.

    Jan 27

    JOBKILLERS!

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    Although early in the legislative session, the California Chamber of Commerce has already tagged four bills as “job killers” – the worst of the worst bills that would have a negative impact on California’s economy if they become law. As a CalChamber member and coalition partner in Sacramento we stand with them to help modify or defeat these bills.

    AB 5 (Gonzalez Fletcher; D-San Diego/Kalra; D-San Jose) mandates small employers with as few as 10 employees to offer all employees who have the skills and experience to perform additional hours of work that become available before hiring a new employee, temporary employee, or contractor.

    SB 33 (Dodd; D-Napa) deals with arbitration agreements. The bill applies to any contract for goods or services that requires the individual to submit all disputes to arbitration, including those arising from claims alleging fraud, identity theft, or wrongful use of personal identifying information.

    SB 62 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara) will significantly expand the list of individuals for which employees can take leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), creating a lack of conformity with the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and therefore creating an opportunity for California employees to take up to 24 weeks/ 6 months of protected leave in a 12-month period. Governor Brown vetoed a similar proposal in 2015.

    SB 63 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara) requires a California employer who employs as few as 20 employees within a 75-mile radius to provide 12 weeks of protected parental leave. Governor Brown vetoed a similar, but narrower proposal just last year. This proposed mandate comes on top of the current requirement that employers with only 5 employees allow up to 16 weeks of protected pregnancy-related leave.

    The CalChamber will release the full list of job killer bills in the spring after seeing all the bills that are introduced and receiving input from coalition partners such as ourselves.

    Jan 27

    SINGLE-USE TOILET FACILITY REGULATIONS

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    Recent legislation (Chapter 818, Statutes of 2016 [AB 1732]) requires that single occupancy (single-user) toilet facilities be identified for use by any gender, as opposed to being gender specific. This requirement applies to new facilities and existing facilities, effective March 1, 2017.

    The Division of the State Architect (DSA) has issued a regulatory bulleting to further define, clarify, and provide guidance for applicability.

    Click here to read the bulletin and make sure you are in compliance with the law.

    Jan 27

    STATE MOVING AHEAD WITH GHG PLAN FULL STEAM

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    The federal government may have removed the “Climate Change” page from the White House’s website, but California is doing no such thing.  In 2006, the Legislature passed the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32), which created a comprehensive, multi-year program to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in California.  AB 32 required the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to develop a Scoping Plan that describes the approach California will take to reduce GHGs to achieve the goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

    The Scoping Plan was first approved by the Board in 2008, impact all forms of energy, building codes, and transportation, and must be updated every five years.  ARB is moving forward with a second update to the Scoping Plan to reflect the 2030 targets set by the Legislature and Governor.

    Although we are following the proceedings very closely, this is a massive undertaking and we need experts from our industry to pay attention, follow along, and advise us on issues of concern and/or positive aspects of the plan.  Click here to read all the materials.

     

    Jan 27

    SUPPORT FOR FEDERAL ADA REFORM!

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    We have joined a large coalition of stakeholders in Washington D.C. to applaud and support the introduction of H.R. 620, “The ADA Education and Reform Act.”  Recently in California we have seen several major reforms to the statewide implementation of the ADA, which are intended to increase access while reducing unnecessary lawsuits.  This legislation will hopefully mirror some of our state’s reforms.

    The commercial, retail, and industrial real estate industry strongly supports the intent of the ADA and its goal to ensure that all Americans have equal access and opportunities.  Business and property owners are committed to creating a safe, welcoming environment for everyone and acknowledge the significant impact the ADA has made in achieving that goal.

    The letter reads, in part, “Legislation is needed to ensure that resources are focused on improving access and compliance with the law while protecting business from abusive lawsuits. Unfortunately, the ADA is being undermined by a growing “cottage industry” made up of attorneys and plaintiffs who file lawsuits against business and property owners over alleged violations.  The current system creates confusion amongst business and property owners who reasonably believed their property was ADA compliant – typically based on assurances by state and local inspectors.  Oftentimes, business owners find it is less expensive to settle the suits than to defend them, even if the property owner is compliant.   This bill will change that by requiring that business owners have time to fix what is allegedly broken.”

    Here’s to hoping we can reform this important law this year!

    Jan 27

    “CALEXIT” NOW FASHIONABLE

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    After years of making fun of the backers of the State of Jefferson and more recently ripping the Brexit voters, some progressive elements in California have recently embraced the idea of independence from large government binding structures.   To that end, supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment seeking California’s secession from the U.S. have seen a surge of interest and have been given the go-ahead to collect voter signatures to qualify for the 2018 ballot.

    According to the Bee, “the so-called Calexit movement emerged within days of the upset presidential victory of Republican Donald Trump, who lost California by nearly 4.3 million votes. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that nearly one in three Californians support the state leaving the U.S.”

    The national politics on this are interesting.  While some in California may want to distance themselves from the current federal government, Democrats in other states will be loath to give up two safe Senate Seats, dozens of congressional seats, and a net plus 4.5 million presidential votes.  While there may be some national Republicans happy to wave “bye bye” for those very same reasons.

    For most observers this effort does not have any real chance of ever succeeding.  But, you never know – it’s why they count the votes.  Click here to read more about the effort.  If nothing else, this will be fun to follow!

    Jan 20

    INAUGURATION DAY

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    “We are called the nation of inventors. And we are. We could still claim that title and wear its loftiest honors if we had stopped with the first thing we ever invented, which was human liberty.”  ~Mark Twain

    We’d like to thank President Barack Obama for his years of public service and wish him well, as he hands of the reins of power to the 45th President of the United State Donald Trump.

    We are proud to serve the commercial real estate industry in this greatest of nations and are optimistic we have many many good years to come.

    Jan 20

    ASSEMBLY DEMOCRATS OPEN LETTER

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    To mark the inauguration of President Trump, the Assembly Democrat Caucus has released “An Open Letter to Californians” along with a video to contrast with the celebration in D.C.  Click here to see it in full.

    Jan 20

    NEW CONGRESS PROMISES LESS RED TAPE

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    Our friends at ICSC bring us an article regarding the direction the new Congress is heading on regulatory issues and what it may mean for commercial real estate:

    “The Trump administration and the Republican Congress are expected to roll back certain regulations — including some financial and environmental rules long considered to have an impact on the retail real estate industry….While some rules can be changed by congressional review or with a stroke of the presidential pen, other regulations — including parts of the Dodd-Frank Act — will likely require the drafting and passage of congressional amendments, a more time-consuming process, Platt notes. Already, would-be reformers are tossing around a variety of proposals aimed at curbing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which regulates banks, lenders and other financial companies.”

    Click here to read the full article.

    Jan 20

    LEGISLATORS MUST FIX OUR RUTTED ROADS

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    For those of us in Northern California the five major storms we have had in the past two weeks is major relief to the drought.  However, it has also served to highlight the shabby state our roads are in.  Driving on freeways and highways and city streets has become a game of Frogger, except we are dodging potholes, chunks of loose road, huge puddles of water, and traffic.

    As a member of the “Fix Our Roads Coalition” we held a press conference in Sacramento this week to call on the Legislature and the Governor to come together and get a transportation funding package done in 2017.  With a new legislative session and new legislature, we are hopeful they will finally come together to address our long neglected and our underfunded transportation needs.

    A Sacramento Bee editorial on the subject notes that “divots” on the road “cause bipartisan tire damage,” in their call to get the Legislature to act.  Click here to read the full article.