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  • Archive for February 3rd, 2017

    Feb 3

    INDUSTRIAL BUILDING LAWSUIT; OAKLAND GHOSTSHIP FIRE

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    Fallout from a fire in an industrial building that was being used for unpermitted residences and social functions continues, as the Bay Area News Group has stated it will sue for documents that address the city’s failure to shutter the building and save lives.

    “In a four-page letter sent to city officials Thursday, the two-month anniversary of the tragic fire, the news group demanded the release of records detailing police and fire contacts at the Ghost Ship warehouse in the years,” reports the East Bay Times.

    The tragedy has shined a light on the importance of following building, and health and safety codes, and the important role that city and county inspectors have in assuring that buildings out of compliance are taken care of.

    Read more about the investigation of this tragedy here.

    Feb 3

    WATER WATER EVERYWHERE IN THE NORTH

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    After several wet weeks in Northern California and the Sierra snowpack building ever higher, pumps in the Delta are at full throttle pushing excess rainwater to neighbors in the south.   Although no one is declaring the drought over just yet, out of an abundance of caution, it looks like the cyclical nature of California’s climate is back to a “wet spell.”

    With more rain and snow expected, state officials, farmers, and environmentalists – and the people and businesses that have been working so hard to conserve water in that past few years – breathe a sigh of relief.  Click here to get all the numbers and graphs from the SacBee.

    Feb 3

    CALIFORNIA TOPS POVERTY LIST

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    Quantifying something that the business community has been warning about for years, California’s strict laws on a variety of issues and regulatory thicket has made our state one of the most expensive states in the nation and has pushed our “supplemental poverty measure” to the dubious first-place in the nation position.

    “The US Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure puts California’s poverty rate at 20.6 percent, just above Florida, which sits at 19 percent. By comparison, the state with the lowest poverty rate is New Hampshire at 8.7 percent. The supplemental poverty measure takes into account the cost of living, taxes, house and medical costs. The poverty threshold in California is an average of $30,000 for a two-adult, two-child family depending on the region of the state.”

    Everything from grocery staples, to cooling/heating a home, to the almost non-existent availability of affordable housing has pushed lower income Californians in a very difficult situation.

    Although stories on this are focusing on the impact to low income individuals, the same affect is happening to our state’s businesses as everything is taxed and regulated to the point that just staying within the law takes a full time vigilance and eats up much of a business’ capital.

    Click here to read the full story in Capitol Weekly.

    Feb 3

    EXPANDING OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL CALIFORNIANS

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    And to further break down the poverty numbers in the state – rural vs. urban – and offer business oriented solutions, one of our favorite deep thinkers, Loren Kaye, offers the following:

    Nearly one of three Californians receives subsidized health care through Medi-Cal. More than 3.3 million schoolchildren receive subsidized school lunches—about half of total public school enrollment.

     California has the highest percentage of people living in poverty. Even among huge wealth generation and employment gains, millions of California families cannot reach the California dream.

     The new California earthquake has a clear geographical dimension. Grab the 36 counties in rural, mountain and Northern California, and the aggregate unemployment rate is 6.6%. If rural California were a separate state, its unemployment rate would be the highest in the country.

     Increasing opportunity and offering everyone a slice of the pie is within reach of the state leaders. Lawmakers should start with these five goals:

     Invest in Transportation and Water Infrastructure.

    1. Increase Housing Supply.
    2. Make Energy More Affordable.
    3. Update Labor Laws and Reduce Litigation.
    4. Invest in Education and a Skilled Workforce.

    We are working with Loren and the CalChamber and several other partners in Sacramento to develop and push forward such an agenda.  Click here to read the full story.

    Feb 3

    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.

    Feb 3

    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!