BOMA San Diego Goes To Washington D.C.
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
by: BOMA San Diego

Section: News Roundup




BOMA San Diego’s executive officers traveled to DC earlier this month as a part of the 2018 BOMA International National Issues Conference.  At the conference, members from the various BOMA Chapters around the country stormed Capitol Hill to petition their Congressional Delegation about the issues facing the commercial real estate industry.
                    
As in past years, there is no end to potential challenges, although the mood was upbeat given the economy is rolling along and the recently passed tax reform measure dealt with several significant issues impacting commercial real estate.  So, unlike past years, there was no discussion of leasehold depreciation timeframes or carried interest tax rates.
 
Nevertheless, there were three important subject areas BOMA’s collective delegations discussed with the Members of Congress during the hill visit portion of the conference:
 
Preserving Energy Star for Commercial Buildings
 
Most people are aware of the Energy Star program for appliances, but many outside of commercial real estate are unaware of the building recognition and performance tools that also fall under this program.  Administered by the EPA, and established in 1992, the program is currently used by over 450,000 commercial buildings. In California, it’s an integral part of performance testing and benchmarking, which is also a component of state requirements.  As a tool, it is consistent and uniform, which makes it an important part of the lives for our members.  Unfortunately, the program was not included in the President’s current budget, so BOMA has been advocating that it get added back in for FY 2018.  As you may have heard on the news, budget discussions have been difficult, but BOMA San Diego helped educate our delegation on the existence and importance of the Energy Star program for commercial properties and look forward to their support.
 
Infrastructure Funding
 
The federal gas tax, which is the primary source of revenue for infrastructure improvements throughout the country, has not increased since 1993.  Raising taxes is always a thorny subject, but the gas tax is really a user fee, designed to help those using the nation’s transportation system.  Given the poor grades given nationally and even locally in San Diego, to the condition of our road and transportation infrastructure, BOMA is asking Congress to explore ways to increase revenue for infrastructure improvements.  BOMA San Diego noted to our delegation that we have both state and local funding to match federal dollars, and welcome a competitive process for funding.  BOMA San Diego also noted that even the President’s proposal for $1.5 trillion isn’t that much when you consider San Diego has identified over $600 million in shovel ready projects and many more in the works.  Congestion and traffic delays cost billions annually in wasted time and fuel.  It also increases greenhouse gas emissions.  Finding a workable solution for addition money was our message.
 
ADA Notice and Compliance Reform
 
In California, and specifically in San Diego, our members are aware of the “drive by” lawsuits filed by unscrupulous lawyers looking to shake down property owners using the ADA to demand money in exchange for not filing litigation.  We’ve even heard that they’ve stopped actually driving to locations and are instead using Google Earth to identify properties for ADA parking demand letters.  The California legislature was able to pass a law that allows property owners the opportunity to fix an ADA violation, and help avoid these shakedowns, which is the right way to actually make sure a property is in compliance.  Unfortunately, these attorneys are now suing in federal court, making it necessary for federal legislation to give the same notice and compliance opportunity as our members receive in California. BOMA San Diego applauded Congressman Scott Peters for authoring and Congressman Duncan Hunter for co-sponsoring HR 620 (Poe - Peters) which will help provide a bi-partisan solution that serves the interests of accessibility and curbs ADA lawsuit abuse.  We are hopeful for the same success in DC, as we saw in California on this measure.
 
For more information on the federal legislative agenda of BOMA, please go to the BOMA International Website at boma.org.  
 

Craig Benedetto, California Strategies + BOMA's Legistlative Advocate