Across Western states, at every level of government, elected officials are developing, debating and enacting policies important to the commercial real estate (CRE) industry. Often, what gains traction in one city or state can quickly carry over to another.
With this in mind, NAIOP hosted a Western Legislative Summit in San Francisco last month focused specifically on core policy issues affecting commercial, industrial, retail and mixed-use real estate within the Western United States. This was another in a series of annual summits, both national and regional, that NAIOP has hosted. Summit attendees gained valuable insight in developing effective advocacy strategies associated with both the policy and political challenges that occur during the public, and at times sensitive, debate at the state and local levels.
The summit began with a brief overview by Aquiles Suarez, NAIOP’s Vice President for Government Affairs, on the policy issues at the national level impacting the CRE industry in the Western states, followed by brief updates from each chapter on the current policy challenges facing CRE within their respective region and state. These updates, along with the federal overview, set the stage for the remaining policy discussions during the summit. The most pressing policy discussions included:
Commercial Real Estate and the Affordable Housing Debate
The session was led by Craig Benedetto, Principal at California Strategies, who focused on the industry’s response in addressing the affordable housing needs of cities and local communities, particularly as it relates to the generation of housing revenue through linkage/impact fees on CRE, without inhibiting economic opportunity and commercial development. He stressed the importance for NAIOP and CRE to participate in the debate and engage policymakers in developing comprehensive affordable housing solutions that do not focus solely on one industry, such as CRE.
What the Clean Air Debate Means for Commercial Real Estate
The session focused on legislative and regulatory efforts to reduce greenhouse gas and carbon emissions and its impact on commercial and industrial properties. Jennifer Hernandez, Partner with Holland & Knight, provided a realistic analysis of the current environmental debate.
The Impact of Water on the Commercial Real Estate Landscape
This session was broken into two parts focused on (1) how the supply of water is changing the commercial real estate landscape in the West and (2) the new federal rule issued by the EPA and Army Corps to define “waters of the United States” (commonly referred to as WOTUS) that will receive federal protection. Steve LaMar, President of the Irvine Ranch Water District, and John Bryant, NAIOP’s Senior Director of Federal Affairs, led the informative session.
The Future of Freight Movement in the West
The session was led by Curtis Spencer, President of IMS Worldwide, who focused on the challenges facing efficient freight movement from the port to the warehouse to the consumer across the West. He also highlighted the role that the cost of moving freight by rail plays in the selection of ports of entry for these goods.
The PowerPoint presentations for each of these policy discussions can be found here.
The summit concluded with an open discussion on the development and execution of strategies intended to impact the policy debate on these and similar issues. The discussion included effective advocacy approaches, membership engagement, political action committees, resource management and coalition building.
It is expected that 2016 will be an active year for policy debates on these and similar issues in the Western states. The summit provided attendees with the tools, foundation and confidence to walk the halls of government and the state capitols and effectively educate lawmakers and influence the policy debate. NAIOP and its chapters serve as the voice for commercial real estate. Through collaborative efforts, such as our Western Legislative Summit, NAIOP and its local chapters ensure that we remain at the forefront of the policy debate affecting our industry.
Toby Burke is the Senior Director of State and Local Affairs for NAIOP.