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2007 commercial real estate legislative issues

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The San Diego Building Owners & Managers Association (BOMA) has established itself and is well-known in the business community as a legislative force representing the commercial real estate industry in the city and county of San Diego, and nationwide through partnerships with BOMA California, BOMA International and a number of other national real estate organizations. With nearly 300 members, BOMA San Diego represents more than 25 million square feet of commercial office space in San Diego County.

Each year, BOMA's Government Affairs Committee releases its legislative priorities and recommendations for action. BOMA's key priorities for 2007 are listed in alphabetical order below.

Additional energy generation in the region

BOMA supports the adequate provision of electricity to meet growing demand in the region in the form of additional power generation and efficient transmission systems. While BOMA strongly believes in energy conservation and does more than its fair share in curbing use, these measures can only go so far. Providing adequate power to the region for a growing economy demands additional generation. For this reason, BOMA opposes efforts to decommission existing power plants without new plants permitted and operating. BOMA also supports the Powerlink project to provide additional east-west electricity capabilities to the San Diego market.

Airport authority configuration and land use plans

BOMA supports the establishment of a regional airport authority for the operation of Lindbergh field. BOMA also supports the establishment of land use criteria for areas around the airport as long as the criteria is developed and approved by an independent entity represented by local officials that does not have authority over airport operations. BOMA believes there is an inherent conflict between land use and maintaining airport operations, and thinks anybody tasked with developing land use plans must balance airport operations with the land use rights extended to property owners neighboring the airport.

Americans with Disabilities Act

BOMA believes everyone should have adequate access to member buildings, common areas and tenant spaces. BOMA also supports state and federal legislative proposals that would require property owners to receive a notice of intent to sue if a violation was not corrected within a given time period. If the violation is corrected, no lawsuit could be filed. Currently, attorneys purportedly representing an "injured" party can file lawsuits based upon even hyper-technical violations such as a mirror being 1 inch too high, and have them adjudicated without any opportunity for a property owner to repair the alleged Americans with Disabilities Act violation. BOMA supports legislative efforts to allow for notice and a repair period to prevent costly lawsuits and actually help better protect the public's right of access.

BOMA PAC contributions

BOMA continues to participate in the efforts of BOMA's state and national association to support elected officials who share the organization's goals and objectives. To that end, BOMA will work to increase San Diego's contribution to the state and national political action committees (PAC) through the development of fundraising efforts and events to benefit these PACs.

Continued stakeholder outreach

BOMA believes frequent and in-depth communication with elected and public officials in San Diego is important to maintain open lines of communication and foster a better understanding of BOMA and its members' issues. BOMA has implemented and will continue to support programs such as the BOMA Breakfast Series, which allows for dialogue between BOMA members and key leaders in an informal and open setting. BOMA also will develop programs and seminars with key officials for the benefit of the general membership.

Critical peak pricing

BOMA understands the need to inject market-based pricing and electricity rates for many customers; however, it is important to note that due to state regulations and the inability to sub-meter office space, any real-time pricing scheme would unduly affect BOMA's members and not result in the type of energy conservation the state would hope to achieve. BOMA has become a leader in energy conservation and will continue to work to conserve energy and educate members and their tenants. BOMA does not support critical peak pricing (CPP) in its current form, as it unfairly punishes BOMA members and small businesses that cannot switch off their energy during peak hours. Additionally, without the ability to sub-meter tenant spaces, BOMA members cannot reward tenants who do conserve energy and punish those who do not, thus eliminating the benefits of CPP.

Green construction

BOMA supports efforts to increase energy-efficient and sustainable environments in our region's commercial areas. To that end, BOMA supports incentives that promote green construction and will work to determine opportunities to help promote these types of programs.

Solar energy

BOMA supports the increased use of renewable energy where it is appropriate and cost efficient. The use of solar energy as a renewable resource is one such method, as long as the requirements that promote use do not become an undue burden on BOMA's members.

Split roll property tax

BOMA San Diego continues to oppose any strategy that aims to change the way commercial property is assessed. BOMA objects to any legislative effort to split commercial property from residential property for the purposes of tax assessment, as well as any increase in commercial property taxes. BOMA will continue to insist commercial properties owners do indeed pay more than their fair share of the property tax burden, and shifting more of this obligation to them is unfair and inappropriate.

Trash and construction recycling

BOMA understands the importance of recycling construction and demolition debris as well as other recyclable materials generated at member facilities. However, BOMA does not support a mandatory measure that places an unfair and impractical burden on its members. BOMA supports the establishment of regional recycling facilities and fee structures that encourage recycling over landfill dumping. BOMA believes voluntary, education-based, white-paper recycling efforts and the establishment of recycling programs in commercial office properties are important steps for every property manager and owner.

Water recycling and reuse

BOMA acknowledges San Diego is an arid region with limited natural resources. BOMA also recognizes the vast majority of San Diego water is imported from outside of the county. Due to this fact, BOMA supports diversifying the water supply portfolio and encourages water recycling and reuse to the maximum extent possible. BOMA supports indirect potable reuse of the city's recycled water commodity being generated at both the North City reclamation facility and the South Bay plant, as opposed to attempting to dual-plumb systems to deliver this water to specific users.

Water and sewer rates

BOMA supports the maintenance and improvement of the region's water and wastewater system and believes ratepayer accountability is a critical component of any rate proposal. To that end, BOMA supports the mayor's rate increase proposal along with the ratepayer safeguard plan.

For more information about issues affecting the commercial real estate industry or to request a copy of the BOMA 2007 Issues Report, contact BOMA San Diego at (619) 243-1817.

Benedetto is a legislative advocate for BOMA San Diego.

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