Tuesday, January 31, 2017

BOMA International Advocacy Update: Lawmakers Return to Capitol Hill, ADA Drive By Lawsuits and New OSHA Regulations

115th Congress

The 115th U.S. Congress officially commenced on Tuesday, January 3, as both chambers swore in the newly elected lawmakers and kicked-off official business. Before the Republican-controlled Congress could begin tackling their ambitious agenda for the next two years, the House of Representatives once again voted in Paul Ryan as the Speaker of the House. Speaker Ryan, who now begins his first full, two-year term, received almost unanimous support from his party. Nancy Pelosi once again will serve as minority leader, a position that she has held since 2011.

Mitch McConnell continues his role as Senate majority leader, but Senator Chuck Schumer takes the place of retired Senator Harry Reid as leader of the Senate Democrats. Over the next few weeks, the Senate is scheduled to hold a series of votes to pass a budget and begin hearings to fulfill their duty to confirm the president’s cabinet appointments.

BOMA International’s advocacy team met with BOMA member leaders and staff from around the country this past weekend at the BOMA International Winter Business Meeting and have been hard at work collaborating with the new Congress on commercial real estate's priority issues for 2017.

Stay tuned for a future post on what was discussed at the Winter Business Meeting.

60 Minutes Features Story on Drive-By ADA Lawsuits

Earlier this month, 60 Minutes featured a segment detailing the growing trend of lawsuits filed against businesses around the U.S. relating to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Host Anderson Cooper demonstrated how attorneys file lawsuits after simply driving by a business or looking at satellite imagery of a building to spot highly technical accessibility issues. This segment brought much-needed attention to the issue, which BOMA International has been working hard to remedy with the help of lawmakers.

BOMA’s advocacy team currently is working in support of federal legislation that protects commercial buildings from this harmful practice through the introduction of a “notice and cure” period that allows building owners 120 days to correct identified ADA violations before the commencement of litigation. This provision upholds the intent of the ADA, which is to foster an accessible environment for individuals with disabilities. BOMA members looking for additional information about this issue can reach out to BOMA International’s Manager of Advocacy Dylan Isenberg at disenberg@boma.org.

OSHA Publishes New Safety Regulations

On November 17, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) published new regulations on Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Safety. These regulations are intended to increase worker safety and limit the number of accidents associated with the use of stairs, ladders and other elevated work surfaces. Starting January 1, 2017, rope-descending systems can only be used in buildings less than 300 feet in height. The regulations also require building owners to have all existing roof anchor systems used as tie-off points for rope-descending systems inspected and certified by November 17, 2017, and a copy of the certification will need to be provided to any contractor using the roof anchor system.

BOMA encourages all building owners and managers to read OSHA’s fact sheet to understand how the rules will affect their workplaces and properties. Property professionals should verify that contractors who inspect and certify anchorage points meet the necessary qualifications. If you have any questions or need more assistance, please contact BOMA International’s Director of Codes & Standards Steve Orlowski at sorlowski@boma.org.

UPDATE: San Francisco Legislation Requiring Choice in Internet/Communication Providers for Tenants of Commercial and Residential Properties

UPDATE - January 31, 2017

Supervisor Mark Farrell's legislation allowing tenants the choice of internet/communication providers was signed in late December 2016 by Mayor Ed Lee, and is now in effect as of January 22, 2017.

Please take a moment to review this legislation with your team to ensure that you are in compliance with the new law. This measure was the effort of many in the business community but major changes that were beneficial to the tenant and, more importantly, the BOMA building owner, were due to the efforts of our immediate-past chair of the BOMA San Francisco Government Affairs Committee Chair, Manuel Fishman.

The law codifies a process that BOMA members have already been carrying out: allowing their small-business tenants to choose their internet provider that comply with physical constraints of the building and that tenant's lease. Thankfully, thanks to BOMA's efforts, that is still the case but your property management team may have to work closely with the tenant and communications provider to ensure that both the BOMA building owner and tenant's interests are respected.

Questions? Concerns? Please feel free to reach out to johnb@boma.com.

Original Post - December 1, 2016

You may have read about a proposal from Supervisor Mark Farrell that would allow internet access from any communications service provider for any tenant that asks for it – in both commercial and residential buildings. Thanks to the quick work and expertise of Manuel Fishman and Marty Smith, your Government Affairs Committee Chair and Vice Chair, the measure - while not addressing all of the industry's issues - is still workable for BOMA San Francisco members.

Your feedback is requested no later than December 5, 2016. 

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will vote on the measure on December 6, 2016.

It has been moving quickly through the legislative process at San Francisco's City Hall and BOMA members thank our San Francisco business community partners for their input. We also thank Supervisor Farrell for allowing our members the opportunity to suggest practical changes to the legislation that allows the tenant to choose their internet/communications service provider AND protects the commercial property owners ability to feasibly accommodate the request.

In fact, our BOMA members already do this. The commercial real estate industry is a tenant driven business and the relationship between a building owner/manager and their tenants is paramount.

Commercial building owners understand that tenants should have the ability to ask for communications access and, like most agreements between a building owner and a tenant, they are considered unless the building owner’s property cannot safely and efficiently accommodate the request. In other words, one of the major considerations by the building owner is if the request is feasible based on the real-world constraints of the built environment.

Please send your comments to johnb@boma.com and kenc@boma.com.

Monday, January 30, 2017

UPDATE: Folsom-Howard Streetscape Project

UPDATE - January 29, 2017

Thanks to those BOMA members who attended to the first open house series - information below- for the Folsom-Howard Streetscape Project.

If you have not done so, please take this survey and let the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) know what transportation amenities matter most to you on Folsom and Howard streets.

Next steps for the project will be for SFMTA staff to technically analyze potential roadway configurations and compile public feedback received. Technical analysis of possible designs will enable the SFMTA to better understand the trade-offs of different design options. Combining the technical analysis with public feedback received will provide staff with several project alternatives to share with the public at the next project open house in Spring 2017.

In the meantime, staff will be working to implement parking-protected bike lanes on Folsom and Howard and design upgraded bike facilities on 11th Street and on Folsom Street between 11th and 13th streets.

Please also note that the Central SoMa Plan Draft EIR, which is the environmental approval document for the Folsom-Howard Streetscape Project, was released on December 14, 2017 and will have a 60-day public comment period

As always, updated information can be found at www.sfmta.com/folsomhoward and you can keep up to date by signing up for email updates.


Original Post - December 12, 2016

You may be aware that BOMA San Francisco members in the South of Market area of San Francisco  have provided input on the possible changes as part of the Folsom-Howard Streetscape Project.

The Folsom-Howard Streetscape Project is an effort to prepare for continued growth in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood.

The SFMTA feels that demand on SoMa’s streets is increasing and will only continue to rise. The City estimates a 212% increase in SoMa residents and a 140% increase in SoMa workers by the year 2040. As such, there is a need to prepare thoughtfully for the coming growth that will place more demand on the neighborhood’s transportation network.

This project will focus on updating and upgrading the Folsom-Howard couplet. It will prioritize traffic safety, community livability and enhancing the neighborhood’s existing character. The initiative will also improve transit access and examine traffic circulation modifications. It will include bicycle, transit, pedestrian, curbside management, and traffic improvements on Folsom and Howard streets while addressing safety needs and future transportation demand in the growing South of Market Neighborhood.

The SFMTA are in the early planning stages and will be hosting two open houses so that BOMA members and other stakeholders can provide their comments. These events are an opportunity for the public to learn about the project goals and possible improvements, as well as provide ideas and feedback on the future of Folsom and Howard streets.

Two open house events will accommodate those with scheduling conflicts. Both open houses will be similar, hosting the same materials, information and opportunity to provide feedback.

For more information, please feel free to email the project manager, Paul Stanis, at paul.stanis@sfmta.com.

Thursday, December 8, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM

SoMa Recreation Center (Gene Friend Recreation Center)

270 6th St (between Howard and Folsom)

Saturday, December 10, 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

SoMa Recreation Center (Gene Friend Recreation Center)

270 6th St (between Howard and Folsom)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) – Member Recruitment


The Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) is soliciting applications from BOMA members and Bay Area residents interested in serving on the TJPA Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). To ensure continuity in the TJPA CAC membership, each year approximately one half of the member’s terms will expire and the TJPA will consider applicants to fill those seats.

Applications are due by February 15, 2017, and are to be submitted to the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, 201 Mission Street, Suite 2100, San Francisco, CA 94105 or via e-mail to TJPACAC@transbaycenter.org.

The Application Form is available on the TJPA website at http://transbaycenter.org/tjpa/cac/about-the-cac.

San Francisco Business Tax Updates January 2017 - 2016 Annual Return Live!

2016 Annual Return LIVE!

 The 2016 Tax Year Annual Return is now live at http://sftreasurer.org/2016GRPY. We encourage BOMA members to access the Return and review it.

To enter the Online Return you will need:
  • Seven digit Business Account Number
  • Last four digits of your business tax identification number (Federal EIN or SSN)
  • Eight digit alphanumeric Online PIN (same as prior year)

The The Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector have send out filing notices recently that include the Business Account Number, Online PIN, and other information to assist taxpayers with filing their Return, including all quarterly installment payments received by their office. 

2016 Annual Return Videos Posted
In our ongoing efforts to make tax reporting accessible to all San Franciscans, we have produced videos on how to file an Annual Return under various circumstances. You may view them here. Please share with your networks, particularly if you work with small businesses that plan to complete their tax return themselves!

Proposed Ordinances

San Francisco's Treasurer has submitted proposed legislation to the Board of Supervisors. These items will be heard this month. The two items that most directly affect the gross receipts tax and payroll expense tax are:

File 161264, which proposes to modify the quarterly filing and payment requirements for payroll expense taxes and gross receipts taxes, clarify the requirements for requesting an extension, and expressly permit taxpayers to apply refunds of the business registration fee, the payroll expense tax, and the gross receipts tax to subsequent tax periods.

File 161225, which proposes to remove the $100 minimum penalty from one of the penalties for failing to register with the Tax Collector; and to remove the fee and administrative requirements for obtaining a duplicate registration certificate.

Both of these proposed ordinances were guided by feedback from the business community about simplifying quarterly installment payments, applying refunds to subsequent tax periods, and reducing penalties and fees on small businesses.

Small Business Enterprise Thresholds Increase

As previously announced, the San Francisco Tax Collector has announced increased small business enterprise thresholds for tax year 2016 and retroactively increased thresholds for 2015. Taxpayers affected by the 2015 retroactive increase have been contacted directly. You can find more information as well as the 2016 tax rates here.

Combined Groups of Related Entities – 2016 Annual Return Functionality Enhancements

If you or the taxpayer you are filing for is filing on behalf of a combined group of related entities, or was part of a combined group for a portion of the tax year, there us added online functionality so most combined groups do not have to file by mail and can more easily report group members.

Combined groups of related entities will need to report their group members in the annual return (rather than through Account Update), including the dates the entities were part of the group, and the extent they are unitary with the group. Tax preparers should have this information ready when filing to facilitate their filing process. For information about what constitutes a combined group of related entities, please see these instructions for the 2016 return here.