Advocate - June 28, 2019
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Part of the Utility's Community Wildfire Safety Program

 
If extreme fire danger conditions threaten a portion of the electric system serving your community - including San Francisco, it may be necessary for them to turn off electricity in the interest of public safety. 
 

As part of PG&E's Community Wildfire Safety Program, PG&E is implementing additional precautionary measures to help reduce the risk of wildfires. If extreme fire danger conditions threaten a portion of the electric system serving your community - including San Francisco, it may be necessary for them to turn off electricity in the interest of public safety. This is called a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS).

The PSPS Program now includes all electric lines that pass through high fire-threat areas – both distribution and transmission.

While customers in high fire-threat areas (based on the CPUC High Fire-Threat District) are more likely to be affected, a public safety power outage could impact any of the more than 5 million customers who receive electric service from PG&E, including BOMA San Francisco members. This is because the energy system relies on power lines working together to provide electricity across cities, counties and regions.

The Program will proactively turn off electric power for safety when extreme fire danger conditions are forecasted. The forecast can arise from high winds, high heat, low humidity, or other factors that contribute to a Red Flag warning. PG&E aims to notify those affected ahead of time, when possible, with a series of texts, social media updates, and other forms of communication that customers may sign up for. They will also utilize the AlertSF system.

What does the PSPS Program mean for BOMA San Francisco Members?

PG&E could decide to shut off power to San Francisco and/or the Bay Area as part of the PSPS Program. 
 
 Even if San Francisco is not subject to a wildfire, transmission lines that feed San Francisco and run through a shut off area could be affected, thereby turning off electricity to San Francisco. The transmission lines feeding the city primarily run from the east (roughly along Highway 92) and from the south up the Peninsula. The power shutoff could run for the duration of the Red Flag warnings which could last several days. 

Many tenants believe that since their building has an 'emergency generator' they will be able to continue business as usual in their office space. Property owners and managers should consider planning for such an event and inform their tenants accordingly. 

BOMA San Francisco members and the public can sign up for PG&E notifications to ensure they are on the list by going to the PG&E website:

https://www.pge.com/en_US/safety/emergency-preparedness/natural-disaster/wildfires/public-safety-power-shutoff-faq.page

The contact information PG&E currently has probably does not include your company’s emergency management team, but rather an administrative contact in the billing department during normal business hours. Make sure to get your emergency contacts into their 24/7 notification database!


Notifications can also be obtained by signing up for emergency messages from the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management at https://sfdem.org/PUBLIC-ALERTS. A useful website for planning for Red Flag warnings is National Weather Service - California Fire Weather Map https://www.wrh.noaa.gov/fire2/cafw/

Building owners, property managers, engineers and security professionals should all consider the issues that may occur during a Public Safety Power Shutoff.
 
A special thank to BOMA San Francisco's Emergency Preparedness Committee members who contributed to this update for the benefit of the commercial real estate community and for all San Franciscans.

Large Generators and Zero Waste Facilitators

 
A law was enacted recently that affects large refuse generators (LRGs) in San Francisco.
 

UPDATE - April 10, 2019

A law was enacted recently that affects large refuse generators (LRGs) in San Francisco. LRGs are those that have a roll-off compactor or at least 40 cubic yards of uncompacted refuse (recyclables, compostables, and trash) per week. When any type of compactor is used, the volume of compacted refuse shall be multiplied times three to determine actual volume collected.

The measure mandates that LRGs will be subject to visual inspection audits of their refuse not less than every three years. The Director of the Department of Environment would issue to those large refuse generators found non-compliant a notice and order to comply with the Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance (details below).

This ordinance will also require such non-compliant LRGs to appoint or otherwise engage staff or contractors whose exclusive function is to serve as zero waste facilitators, for a minimum of 24 consecutive months, upon receiving a Director’s notice and order. A zero waste facilitator is a person serving exclusively in the capacity to manage refuse material sorting and movement. After 24 consecutive months of compliance with the Director’s notice and order, a large refuse generator would be subject to a follow-up audit.

Most BOMA San Francisco members are considered LRGs and should review the ordinance thoroughly. Imperative and helpful information is available via our partners at the Department of the Environment and Recology

Questions, please reach out to johnb@boma.com

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BOMA San Francisco Members:

UPDATE - April 6, 2011

Please click here to review the final Commercial Office Building Recycling and Composting Program Guidelines.  Also please click here to review the Commercial Office Building Compliance Toolkit.

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Original Post - June 11, 2010

As we have posted on the blog previously, San Francisco now has a city-wide mandatory recycling and composting requirement. There are five mandatory areas that property managers need to address in the ordinance:

  • Sign-up and pay for adequate recycling, composting and trash service.
  • Have the appropriate number, color and size containers placed close together in convenient locations at your site.
  • Educate and train tenants and employees on the program.
  • Work with the hired janitorial staff or contractors to create an effective program.
  • Make sure your building is participating in separating materials.

There could be fines for buildings that do not provide an adequate program (#1-4 above), but there will not be fines for buildings that do not properly separate all materials until at least July 1, 2011.

Please click here to review the ordinance and here for FAQs.  Contact the San Francisco Department of the Environment at (415) 355-3768 if you need assistance in starting a recycling and composting program to comply with the new law.

Operative as of April 22, 2019

 
Important notice for building owners in San Francisco from our partners at the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection.
 

Please note this ordinance is now operative as of April 22, 2019. Click here to read a recent article on the subject in the San Francisco Chronicle.

From our partners at the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection (SFDBI): 

If you’re a property owner and your commercial storefront is vacant or abandoned, you are required to register by completing an application and submitting annual registration fees to the Department of Building Inspection pursuant to Ordinance 52-19. This applies even if other units in the building are currently occupied. In addition, you need to maintain and secure your property, even if partially unoccupied, to prevent blight and public safety hazards in compliance with Chapter 80 of the San Francisco Administrative Code, the California Environmental Quality Act, and all other applicable building, health, fire, and safety codes.

IMPORTANT CHANGES

In March 2019, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to amend this law through Ordinance 52-19, which took effect on April 22nd. Important changes were made, including:

  • Registration of vacant storefront is required within 30-days of the commercial storefront becoming vacant, even if it is actively being offered for rent or lease;
  • Annual registration fee payment of $711 is now required at the time of registration;
  • Property owners are now required to pay a penalty of four times (4x) the annual registration fee ($2,844) for failure to register a vacant storefront within 30 days of the property being noticed by DBI; and
  • An annual safety inspection report is now required from a licensed professional, which is engaged and paid for by the property owner, confirming the storefront’s interior and exterior remains up to code. This annual report is due when the owner renews and pays the storefront’s annual registration.

Questions? Please email johnb@boma.com.

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UPDATE - March 27, 2019

Recently, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to amend this law. Important changes were made, which include the following:

  • Registration of vacant storefront is required: 1) within 30-days of the commercial storefront becoming vacant or 2) even if it is actively being offered for rent or lease;
  • Annual registration fee payment of $711 required at the time of registration; 
  • Property owner is required to pay a penalty of four times (4x) the annual registration fee ($711) for failure to register a vacant storefront within 30 days of the property being noticed by DBI; and 
  • Annual report required from a licensed professional, which is engaged and paid for by the property owner, confirming the storefront's interior and exterior are maintained up to code. This annual report is due when the owner renews and pays the storefront's annual registration. 

The San Francisco Department of Building Inspection plans to offer a workshop on Vacant Storefronts at this year's Earthquake Safety Fair in June. To be notified of workshop details and how to register, sign up here.

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UPDATE - May 8, 2014


BOMA San Francisco Members:

Supervisor Katy Tang has introduced amendments to the 2009 San Francisco Vacant or Abandoned Buildings (VABO) law, summarized below.

If you are a BOMA member that owns or manages a portfolio of smaller buildings in San Francisco's commercial corridors, or if you feel that the new amendments may impact your downtown high-rise commercial/mixed-use properties, please email johnb@boma.com with your comments.

Existing Law (2009) 

Building Code Section 103A.4 et. seq., the VABO, requires that owners of vacant or abandoned buildings in San Francisco register their properties as such, pay registration fees, secure their properties to deny access to would-be trespassers, and provide proof of liability insurance coverage for the properties. VABO, as it currently reads, applies to some vacant commercial storefronts in San Francisco.

However, a building containing a vacant commercial storefront but an occupied second floor unit is technically not a vacant or abandoned building, as defined by VABO. As such, the City and County of San Francisco feels that many vacant commercial storefronts in San Francisco evade VABO regulations via this loophole.


Proposed Amendments to Current Law (2014) - Click Here to Review the Ordinance

By amending the Building Code to apply requirements similar to those specified in VABO to properties containing vacant or abandoned commercial storefronts, owners of properties in commercial corridors will have extra incentive to seek suitable tenants to fill their vacant or abandoned commercial storefronts. To provide owners of vacant or abandoned commercial storefronts with ample time to find suitable tenants, the proposed amendment to the Building Code would mandate owners of vacant or abandoned commercial storefronts to do the following within 30 days of issuance of a Notice of Violation:

  • Register their commercial storefronts with the Department of Building Inspection (DBI);
  • Secure their commercial storefronts to prevent trespassers from gaining access to the premises;
  • Remove graffiti, refuse, and debris from in and around their commercial storefronts; and 
  • Maintain fire and/or liability insurance coverage for their commercial storefronts as DBI determines necessary. 

Additionally, owners of vacant or abandoned commercial storefronts would be required to do either of the following within 270 days of their commercial storefronts becoming vacant or abandoned:

  • Rent their commercial storefronts to tenants who occupy the premises in a manner that complies with all state and local laws; or 
  • Pay a fee of $765.00 to include their commercial storefronts in the Registry of Vacant or Abandoned Commercial Storefronts. This fee shall be assessed on an annual basis for each year that a commercial storefront remains vacant or abandoned. 

Finally, the proposed amendment carves out an exemption for owners of commercial storefronts who demonstrate a good faith effort to rent, lease, or sell their commercial storefronts, or obtain permits to bring their commercial storefronts into compliance with the law.

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Original Post - June 15, 2009

Your BOMA Advocacy Team attended the special meeting of the Building Inspection Commission (BIC) and the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) recently where the Registration of Vacant/Abandoned Buildings Ordinance was discussed (you can view a copy of the Ordinance, here). The discussion surrounding the measure was an interesting one; here are the highlights:


What's the origin/intent of the Ordinance?

  • The measure was introduced on May 5, 2009 by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and Supervisor Bevan Dufty.
  • Many cities have this type of ordinance (under the 'public nuisance' ordinance of the code).
  • At its core, the measure attempts to mitigate the deterioration of a building.

What's the status of the Ordinance?

  • On June 3, 2009, the San Francisco Planning Department: Historic Preservation Commissionconducted a public hearing to consider the measure. The Commission approved the Ordinance, with modifications. You can view the Commission's recommendation and documents related to their action, here.
  • On June 10, 2009, the measure was heard before the Code Advisory Committee (CAC) where they recommended "non-support of [the] ordinance as written, and in lieu recommen[ed] that the Department of Building Inspection develop administrative procedures to enforce existing requirements." You can read the CAC's letter to the BIC, here.
  • On June 12, 2009, DBI Director Vivian Day responded to the Planning Department's recommendation of the Ordinance that can be viewed here. In short, the measure is not enforceable by DBI.
  • On June 12, 2009, the BIC approved a motion to notify the Board of Supervisors that it does not support the Ordinance.

The need for the Ordinance warrants further discussion:

  • Do we need another ordinance? There are already City ordinances that cover blight.
  • What about buildings slated for demolition, or those waiting for rehabilitation? There needs to be a consensus review of this issue.
  • Finding insurance on a vacant building can be difficult. How can this be addressed?
  • What is the definition of a blighted building?
  • The City doesn't know how many blighted buildings it has.
  • This is a big brother issue: The City should help building owners improve their buildings, NOT impose another City mandate.

A full transcript/video of the meeting can be found here.

Your BOMA Advocacy Team will continue to monitor the Registration of Vacant/Abandoned Buildings Ordinance and report any new developments on this blog.

REMINDER

 
San Francisco Existing Building Code Chapter 4E requires that building façades undergo initial and subsequent inspections according to a schedule based on the original construction date of a building.
 

A friendly reminder that this ordinance is in effect. Details here. San Francisco Existing Building Code Chapter 4E requires that building façades undergo initial and subsequent inspections according to a schedule based on the original construction date of a building. These inspections, as well as reporting and maintenance, are to be done as detailed in this Administrative Bulletin and in accordance with the San Francisco Existing Building Code.

Please email johnb@boma.com if  you have any questions.

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UPDATE - August 1, 2017

The San Francisco Façade Inspection and Maintenance bulletin that will implement the recently passed legislation requiring that building facades be inspected and maintained in a safe manner is now available.

Click here to review the draft requirements.

This San Francisco Department of Building Inspection Administrative Bulletin should be of particular importance to members who own or manager older buildings that may have historic facades.

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Original Post - May 31, 2017

On May 6, 2016, Mayor Ed Lee signed into law the Building Facade Inspection and Maintenance Ordinance. BOMA San Francisco Codes and Regulations Committee members were part of the working group that helped shape this new law.

Click here to review the new law.

This legislation requires the facades of certain buildings having five or more stories undergo initial and subsequent inspections according to a schedule based on the original construction date of a building. The program was developed from extensive community and design professional input aimed at reducing the risk to the public and the City’s resilience from façade failure. The legislation provides clarification to the existing requirements of SFBC Section 3401.2 and brings San Francisco up to the national standard of required regular inspection and maintenance. Buildings will be safer leading up to an inevitable earthquake and provide for clear requirements for buildings after the earthquake.

We have received inquiries from our members regarding the compliance timeline for the new law. The San Francisco Department of Building Inspection is in the process of writing the guidelines for buildings owners to comply and it is expected that they will be available later this year.

On Multi-Family Apartments and Other Prop 65 Updates

 

Please take a moment to review this important update from Manuel Fishman and Lotus Fung with Buchalter.

There have been recent developments in the enforcement of the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (also known as Proposition 65 or Prop 65) that require businesses with 10 or more employees to provide “clear and reasonable” warnings to people entering their properties before exposing them to chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, and/or reproductive harm. (1)

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), the agency who oversees Prop 65, has added new regulations for residential rental property owners that will go into effect on July 1, 2019.  The new regulations apply to “residential rental properties” (which includes apartments, houses, duplexes, triplexes,condominiums or other dwellings, but excludes hotels).

New Written Warnings Required to All Known Adult Occupants.

Previously, owners of multi-family apartment properties could post signs on the property warning tenants of their exposure to chemicals known to cause cancer, and/or reproductive harm.  These regulations have been modified to require that a landlord give its tenants direct notice of the exposure through a letter, through the lease, or through email.  Posting a sign will no longer be sufficient to comply with the regulation. The notice is required to be given to “each known adult occupant of the property at the time of renting, leasing…and each year thereafter”.

The regulation provides property owners with guidelines,including “safe harbor” language and content, which states how property owners should provide these warnings to tenants in order to comply with the regulation. The “safe harbor” warning language and content is as follows:

  • The word “WARNING” in all caps and in bold print with this warning symbol. 
  • The warning notice must state: “Talk to your landlord or the building owner about how and when you could be exposed to this chemical [or “these chemicals”] in your building.”
  • Name one or more sources of exposure (e.g. building materials and fireplaces) which are located on the property or within a rental unit.
  • The name of a chemical in each risk category (cancer or reproductive harm) to which the tenant is being exposed.
  • The URL to the Prop 65 website.

Additional Required Warnings.

Although landlords may no longer post signs to fall within the safe harbor for warnings to tenants in residential properties, landlords are still required to post signs to provide tenants with warnings for (i) enclosed parking facilities and (ii) designated smoking areas.  These warnings are in addition to the property owner’s duty to give residential tenants the written warning noted above.

Open Issues.

The concern raised by these regulations is that the warning states that a tenant may“talk to your landlord or the building owner about how and when you could be exposed to these chemicals in your building”. This appears to put a duty on landlords to know, and give advice on, what chemicals are located in their building.  It is unclear what the ramifications are of giving incomplete or unclear advice, and it is unclear what scope of advice a landlord is required to provide. The other concern is that the warning requires a “source of exposure” to be named. It is unclear how specific a property owner must be in identifying the source of exposure.

Reminder of New Signage Requirements for Commercial Properties.

Commercial property owners should already be aware of the new signage requirements for their properties that went into effect on August 30, 2018.  The new environmental exposure signage requirements notably differ from the previous requirements because the signage must (i) identify and name at least one listed chemical for each risk category (i.e. cancer or reproductive toxicant), (ii) name the source of exposure, and (iii) include the URL to the Prop 65 website. There are additional font requirements, sign size requirements, and sign location requirements which were not present in the previous requirements.

Conclusion

Both commercial and residential property owners have additional requirements to remain compliant with Prop 65 including giving their tenants proper Prop 65 notices. Residential property owners may wish to consider modifying their leases to insure that those executed after July 1, 2019 include the proper Prop 65 notice, and should provide tenants with an annual Prop 65 notice. 

Please call Lotus Fung or Manny Fishman if you want to discuss the impact this may have on your property.

Manuel Fishman is a Shareholder and Northern California chair of the Firm’s Real Estate Practice Group. He can be reached at 415.227.3504 or mfishman@buchalter.com  Lotus Fung is an attorney of the Firm’s Real Estate Practice Group. She can be reached at 415.227.3570 or Lfung@buchalter.com

(1) There is an exception for businesses that can show that the anticipated exposure level will not pose a “significant risk of cancer” or that the reproductive toxicant will have “no observable effect”on people.  But, it is difficult, and maybe costly, to make this showing.  As such, most property owners comply with the Prop 65 requirements.  

Thank you Jim Collins with Shorenstein for Leading This Effort

 
BOMAPAC is BOMA International’s political action committee. It enables BOMA International’s advocacy team to raise money to re-elect political candidates for federal office who know and understand – and support – commercial real estate issues.
 

 

BOMAPAC is BOMA International’s political action committee. It enables BOMA International’s advocacy team to raise money to re-elect political candidates for federal office who know and understand – and support – commercial real estate issues.

Whether or not you are politically aware, there is no better way to support the candidates and the issues that impact your professional and personal lives. Your contribution, combined with the donations from your BOMA colleagues from across the U.S., will help ensure that BOMA International has the power to back those members of Congress who show leadership and commitment to commercial real estate issues. So let your voice be heard!

Help BOMA San Francisco Advocacy Leader, Jim Collins (pictured above), as he leads the effort for BOMA San Francisco to ensure that congressional seats are held by individuals who understand real estate’s issues and challenges and can have a positive impact on your livelihood.

Can we count on you to send a check or fill out this form with your credit card information? Members typically donate $100 to $250, but any amount would help the cause. Checks or credit card information should be sent to:

BOMA San Francisco

Attention to: John Bozeman (johnb@boma.com)

233 Sansome Street, Suite 800

San Francisco, CA 94104

Your support of the BOMA International PAC enables them to pursue their vital effort to protect and enhance our industry in the following ways:

  • BOMAPAC is the only voice solely representing multi-tenant office building owners and managers in Washington, DC.
  • BOMA has been the lead organization in pressing for a permanent 15 year Leasehold Depreciation schedule with Congress.
  • BOMA has been a key leader in promoting tax credits for energy efficiency upgrades to commercial real estate.
  • BOMA was one of the key groups who lobbied Congress to renew the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act coverage for commercial property owners, which was recently passed.
  • BOMA continues to lobby to retain the so-called carried interest tax obligation on real estate developments as a capital gains tax item rather treating it as ordinary income. 
  • BOMA International is the only commercial real estate organization that is active and effective in the international building codes writing and adoption process. New codes or amended existing codes can have a huge and long-lasting impact on our industry.

*Federal law requires political action committees to report the name, mailing address, occupation and employer of each individual who contributes in excess of $200 in a calendar year. Contributions are not tax deductible. Corporate contributions or contributions by foreign nationals are prohibited.

 

BOMA Needs YOU!

 
BOMA San Francisco’s Advocacy Program is robust and second to none but only because of member involvement.

 

San Francisco City Hall

BOMA San Francisco’s Advocacy Program is robust and second to none but only because of member involvement. It’s important that you – and your team members – engage with our advocacy committees that engage policy makers based on the issue. Any member of your team can participate in a committee as long as your company is a current dues-paying member of BOMA San Francisco.

  • Government Affairs Committee – Contact Shayna Eskew, Chair, at seskew@alhousedeaton.com to get involved.
    • BOMA San Francisco’s Government Affairs Policy Advisory Committee (GAPAC) meets with those who propose or decide public policy, analyzes existing or proposed legislation and/or regulations to determine the impact on BOMA members, and recommends for BOMA Board approval what position the association should take on such matters. GAPAC educates and informs BOMA members, elected and administrative officials, and the public about issues of significance to commercial real estate, and BOMA’s positions on those issues.
  • Codes and Regulations Committee – Contact Eric Stein, Chair, at erics@harsch.com to get involved.
    • The mission of BOMA's Codes & Regulations Committee is to provide technical support on code-related issues to the Government Affairs Policy Advisory Committee (GAPAC); educate BOMA members about construction industry codes, standards, ordinances and regulations and their impact on the commercial real estate industry; and provide input into the code-making process at the state and local levels consistent with BOMA’s policy positions. 
  • Energy & Environment Committee – Contact Ana Duffy, Chair, at aduffy@shorenstein.com to get involved.
    • Click here for the goals of this wonderful committee. 
  • Emergency Preparedness Committee – Contact Bonnie Kalbrosky, Chair, at Bonnie.Kalbrosky@am.jll.com to get involved .
    • The mission of BOMA San Francisco's Emergency Preparedness Committee is to Support BOMA member information needs regarding security and life safety measures; facilitate communication between BOMA members and their tenants; and, support Government agency needs and facilitate communication between those entities and BOMA members.

Please email johnb@boma.com for any additional questions you may have.

Interactive Feature Streamlines Business Permit Requirement Research

 
San Francisco Planning has launched an interactive web feature, that allows users to easily determine whether their proposed business is permitted in a specified location.
 

San Francisco Planning has launched an interactive web feature, Symbium’s BUILD for Business, that allows users to easily determine whether their proposed business is permitted in a specified location, search for all locations it is permitted in San Francisco under applicable zoning regulations, and learn more about required steps in the application process.

“Opening a business can be challenging for any number of reasons, including navigating multiple zoning, licensing, and permitting regulations,” said John Rahaim, Director of San Francisco Planning. “This service will be a significant asset in helping planners and the public more easily find the information they need and better understand how the code applies to properties.”

To accurately determine whether a business is permitted, users are guided through an interactive dialogue regarding details about their business, including specific location, type of business, which floor the business is located, and whether the business is considered formula retail. Users will then be informed, through interactive map visualizations, whether the business is permitted, if a Conditional Use permit is required, if there is mandatory Discretionary Review, or if it is simply not permitted. Users who do not have a specific location in mind can instantly visualize the areas, throughout San Francisco, where their business is permitted. The tool also provides clear definitions of relevant terms and detailed information on required process and applicable programs.