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BOMA stands watch over commercial real estate legislation

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California is one of the most active states in the country for commercial real estate. It's also one of the most highly regulated. Each year, BOMA San Diego follows and informs its membership about important legislation that can dramatically impact the commercial real estate industry, for better or worse.

BOMA's government affairs committee makes recommendations and ensures that its members are aware, prepared, and when necessary, can advocate for or against legislation to minimize negative impacts on the industry. BOMA members have been some of the most active in the state of California in this regard.

"We have a very active membership that understands the importance of speaking out when it's necessary," said Ted Kimball, president of BOMA San Diego. "New laws are constantly being proposed for our business. Unfortunately, not all of them are good laws. It's our job to keep our members informed about which ones to support and which to oppose."

According to the California Business Properties Association, in 2005 more than $15.3 billion was spent on new construction and tenant improvements for office, industrial and retail buildings, adding more than $36.5 billion in direct and indirect economic benefit to the state's economy. Kimball, who is a partner at the law firm of Kimball, Tirey & St. John, believes it is BOMA's responsibility not just to its members, but to the state's economy to ensure laws are fair to commercial property owners.

BOMA is currently watching several pieces of legislation that could have dramatic impacts on San Diego's commercial real estate market.

According to Kimball, AB 2678 (Nunez; D-Los Angeles) is one such bill because it would require building owners, prior to a sale, to conduct an energy audit and make upgrades to the building's energy efficiency. Kimball says homeowners and small businesses in particular will not be able to make such investments during escrow and so many buildings will simply not be sold.

BOMA is also watching AB 2939 (Hancock; D-Berkeley). This bill is currently in the Senate and would authorize local jurisdictions to supplant Title 24, the state building code, with private building standards such as the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system. Title 24 is a set of "green" building codes that already will provide a 20 percent reduction in water use standards and a 20 percent reduction in energy use.

"If this bill is adopted, local jurisdictions can impose further standards for buildings to follow, forcing building owners to shoulder those costs as well," Kimball said.

Legislation that BOMA is supporting includes AB 1767 (Ma; D-San Francisco), the graffiti bill, which will add the act of vandalism by graffiti to the list of misdemeanor offenses that cannot be remedied through civil compromise. In essence, if someone is caught vandalizing a building, they will serve jail time.

Similarly, SB 691 (Calderon; D-Montebello), the metal theft bill, will create statewide standards and penalties for metal theft, helping law enforcement get control over this growing problem. This bill will place new requirements on recyclers and new, stiffer penalties for those who purchase stolen materials. Metal theft has been an increasing problem in San Diego and this bill will make both the buyer and the seller responsible for ensuring that metal is not stolen when sold.

BOMA members and others can visit its web site at www.bomasd.org to stay up to date on the latest legislation and issues the organization is following.

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