Greetings Members & Associates,
We are a few months into 2016 and already this year is proving to be a very volatile one for our industry, both locally and statewide. With that in mind I would like to highlight the challenges we are facing and what we, as industry leaders, can do about it.
First and foremost, there is an overarching perception that our industry is fully recovered from the recession and that now is the prime opportunity to increase fees on new residential construction. Officials from a variety of agencies are of the opinion that builders have “enjoyed” reduced fees and do not feel the pain of challenges that the local agencies have to deal with. Furthermore, they are of the belief that because impact fees have not been increased in many years this warrants an immediate and extreme increase this year. Obviously, neither of these statements are accurate. Elected officials need to be made aware of the fact that swift and dramatic increases in fees and charges will have a negative effect, not only on our industry, but on their communities. Our industry brings much to a community; we bring jobs, new consumers, new taxpaying residents, new education opportunities, new retail, and new investment. We must ensure that these benefits are communicated to community leaders.
Water agencies are increasing connection fees and/or implementing capacity charges (water offsets). These increases target our industry and result in an inequitable distribution of costs associated with the capital expansion and operations of a water district. School districts, fearful that grants for capital development will soon be limited, are making every attempt to increase their Level 1 School Fees to Level 2. Cities have commissioned DIF studies with the intent to justify impact fee increases and institute new user fees. City Councils are being pressured by their staffs and by some members of their communities to exploit builders in an effort to offset the financial burden put upon them by the state.
All of this is happening during a period of a massive housing shortage in California juxtaposed with other factors including drought conditions, stringent CEQA regulations, demographic shifts, and the school bond measure. Needless to say, but 2016 is shaping up to be a hell of a year. Considering all that has been mentioned, it is imperative that we stay engaged (and invested) in the elections that are taking place at that state, county and local levels. There are well over 100 seats up for election this year and we have allies and opponents seeking election to these seats. These will be the individuals who will ultimately vote to support our industry or burden it. BIA staff has been actively tracking these candidates and identifying the targeted races where we need to be engaged. The mechanism for our engagement is the BIASC Political Action Committee. It is absolutely critical that we, as members, do all that we can to ensure the PAC has sufficient funds that can be allocated towards specific races or ballot measures that will have impacts on our industry. The annual PAC Gala is the premier fundraising event and I strongly encourage all to attend.
Lastly, I want to briefly discuss membership. I have made it a primary goal of the Board of Directors to not only increase membership, but retain current members. I am encouraging all board members to get involved in the membership committee as that is the lifeblood of our organization. In an effort to recruit and retain members, our builder members must show support to the trades and associate members. We must also ensure that lines of communication are open between builder members and associate members. In order to fight the battles that are ahead, we must do so with a unified front; there is strength in numbers and that is what makes the BIA a potent force and an influential voice.
It is my sincerest pleasure to serve as your Chapter President and I look forward to taking on all the challenges with all of you as my partners.
Leonard Miller, President
Building Industry Association of Southern California
Riverside County Chapter