Friday, November 16, 2012

BOMA California - 2012 Year End Legislative Highlights

BOMA San Francisco Members:

During the 2012 legislative session, BOMA California and the commercial real estate industry had great successes on a number of key issues including a major reform to the state’s Americans with Disabilities (ADA) law, stopping an effort to implement a split roll property tax and crafting a workable Green Building code. 

BOMA California representatives were involved in 494 pieces of legislation introduced at the California State Capitol. Of the 67 bills deemed a high priority, three we supported were sponsored; two we opposed were signed by the Governor. 

The following are are just some of the highlights from 2012:

ADA Reform Signed by the Governor - Governor Jerry Brown has signed our ADA reform measure, SB 1186 that will curb lawsuit abuse regarding the Americans With Disabilities Act while promoting increased compliance with disabled accessibility building codes. This bill is being hailed as the most comprehensive and significant reform to California’s ADA law.  California has 40 percent of the nation’s ADA lawsuits but only 12 percent of the country’s disabled population.

Rewrite of the Accessibility Code - In conjunction with the success of SB 1186, BOMA California representatives have worked closely with the California Building Standards Commission to clarify and rewrite accessibility code provisions for all commercial and state-owned buildings. The state will use the federal provisions as the basis for California’s updated code with appropriate amendments where California’s code is more stringent. This major regulatory overhaul will significantly reduce the number of ADA lawsuits filed.

CEQA Reform - BOMA California members have focused on a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) reform package for several years. In 2012, we have engaged in a slightly different legislative strategy and organizations such as the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the California Alliance for Jobs have taken highly visible public leadership roles in pushing for comprehensive CEQA reform.

Spit Roll Property Tax– For three years, BOMA California has helped keep proposed measures to eliminate protections of Proposition 13 for commercial real estate from reaching the Governor's desk. This latest attempt would have enacted an immediate 55% increase in all private non-residential state property taxes.  As part of the Californians Against Higher Property Taxes, BOMA California pressured groups pushing this split roll property tax measure to desist.

Mandatory Benchmarking – BOMA California has led the effort to write reasonable regulations implementing the state’s mandatory building benchmarking law. Prior to input from commercial real estate industry experts, the draft regulations were very onerous and cumbersome.  Due to BOMA California's involvement, many issues have been resolved, and revisions have been delayed several times in order to allow regulators and the industry time to prepare.

Green Building Codes – After thwarting several attempts to mandate LEED standards statewide for all commercial buildings, BOMA California has helped direct efforts appropriately to the California Building Standards Committee. BOMA led an industry wide effort to engage our experts in the public process and helped shape the nation’s first statewide green building code (known as CALGreen). These codes balance environmental issues with economic feasibility and current technology to provide the industry a reasonable standard.  CALGreen is now being updated for the third time thanks to BOMA California's efforts.

Financing for Energy Efficiency – We worked closely with the State Controller to craft a bill to make it more attractive for local governments to offer low loan interest rates to business owners for energy and water efficiency improvements to existing buildings.

Zero Net Energy - A zero net energy building is one which produces its entire annual energy needs from on-site sources (solar photovoltaic). A recent study sponsored by the industry showed that many commercial buildings – even the most energy-efficient – simply do not have enough roof space to sustain the amount of PV that would be needed to meet this requirement.  Due to ongoing concerns expressed by a number of groups, the California Energy Commission has again withdrawn a recent proposal to adopt a Zero Net Energy proposal by way of adding a third tier to CALGreen. While voluntary at the state level, the CalGreen tiers are routinely adopted as mandatory by local cities and counties. 

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