In this interview and his presentation at Construction Conference 2011 on Tuesday, Paul Campos, senior vice president of governmental affairs and general counsel of the Building Industry Association of the Bay Area, will explore emerging area-wide actions by “superregulators” and how contractors can have a say in the outcome of those decisions.
BIA of the Bay Area is a trade group representing more than 500 companies connected to home construction. Mr. Campos has been with the association since 1993, providing members with information about regulations and managing court cases such as Home Building Association of Northern California v. Santa Rosa, in which a Sonoma County judge in December struck down a 2008 city ordinance requiring home builders to have their property annexed into a special tax district to obtain building permits.
What are the significant new laws, regulations, rules and policies affecting builders in the Bay Area, especially in the North Bay?
While federal, state, and local laws will continue to affect builders in the North Bay, as they always have, increasingly it is new rules and regulations promulgated by the Bay Area’s regional governmental agencies that are having the most significant impact. Some examples:
1. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s (BAAQMD) recent adoption of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) so-called thresholds of significance for greenhouse-gas emissions and toxic air contaminants are having an enormous effect on development throughout the Bay Area — particularly for infill and transit-oriented projects.
2. Proposed amendments to the SF Bay Plan to address sea-lever rise being considered by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) could have a significant impact on projects far inland of what is traditionally viewed as BCDC’s 100-foot shoreline band jurisdiction.
3. The joint development of the Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).
These regulatory initiatives have the potential to make it even more difficult to do the kind of infill and “smart growth” mixed use that policy makers are urging builders to undertake. There is still an opportunity for builders to engage in these processes, and in particular the SCS, to shape it so that it actually streamlines infill and mixed use projects.
How should local builders be involved in such government processes? How effective has it been?
Join the BIA! Sign up for email public notices from the regional agencies. Become familiar with the issues and how they can affect projects. Stay informed and most of all make your voice heard by attending meetings, writing letters, and being a visible part of the Bay Area business community’s newly emerging activism.
When builders speak with one voice and act in a concerted and strategic manner, they are very effective. This effectiveness is amplified many times over when builders build coalitions with the broader business community and, in some situations, with local governments, infill advocates, and organized labor, to push back against the anti-jobs, anti-building, anti-human agenda of the powerful environmental movement that until now has had the “regional playing field” all to itself.
Recent examples of success include shaping the BCDC Bay Plan Amendments, saving key transportation project funding at the MTC and ensuring that jobs and a strong economy are fundamental targets for the SCS.
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