Stories in this reportMay 15 event: Contractor rules, regulations and today’s projectsReport: Homebuilding to rebound after prices hit bottom in 2013Marmot got RP building permits in eight daysFood bank expects to open new building in January
SANTA ROSA -- State regulators are cracking down on contractors trying to cut corners on employment and licensing law to win jobs amid the steep contraction in the building industry in the past six years, while local governments increasingly have been actively looking for ways to speed projects that will revive the economy and tax base, according to experts set to speak at the Business Journal's 2012 Construction Conference next week.
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The keynote speaker at the Tuesday morning conference on May 15 will be Steve Sands, executive officer and registrar for the Contractors State License Board for the past 11 years. He was executive officer of the California Architects Board from 1986-2000 and was in the executive and legislative affairs offices of the state Department of Consumer Affairs for eight years before that.
Among the topics he plans to address are pending legislation in Sacramento that could affect contractor licensing and the industry in general as well as efforts in the public and private sectors to combat the "underground economy" of unlicensed and licensed contractors that "cheat to compete."[poll id="17"]
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"Workers' compensation insurance payroll taxes are being under-reported, misreported and, in some instances, not reported at all, impacting honest workers across the state," Mr. Sands said.
In January, investigators from the licensing board, the state departments of Industrial Relations and Employment Development, Board of Equalization and the offices of the Attorney General and Insurance Commissioner formed the Labor Enforcement Task Force. The information-sharing effort is targeting insurance and tax fraud in construction, agriculture, automotive repair, clothing production, food service and warehousing.
Regulations affecting the industry on a local and regional level as well as public-private initiatives to spur business activity will be discussed by a conference panel of Doug Hilberman, president of AXIA Architects of Santa Rosa and on the steering committee for Sonoma County's Construction Coalition; Mary McEachron, chief administrative officer and general counsel of The Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato; Robert Cantu, president of Western Builders and part of the Santa Rosa Mayor's Task Force on Economic Competitiveness; and Chuck Regalia, director of the Community Development Department of the city of Santa Rosa.
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"There are still a number of regulations that I would say are directly affecting economic recovery in the construction and development industry," said Mr. Hilberman. That said, he and Mr. Cantu acknowledge that increasingly more local governments have been cutting red tape in their land-use and construction permitting processes to encourage more business activity and construction, which translates into badly needed tax revenue for budgets overall and for planning and building departments specifically.
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A key recent example is Santa Rosa's focused effort over the past three years to explore whether city processes were holding back economic activity. That resulted in nearly three dozen aggressive economic-development action items adopted and supported by existing and new City Council members. Another outcome was the formation of the Mayor's Economic Competitiveness Task Force to identify problem areas for the business community.