7 Things You Should Know About the New Federal Reporting Requirement

Written in an article by Gene Marks, “If you own a business, get ready. There’s a new federal reporting requirement for business owners, and you don’t want to ignore it. If you do, the penalties are high.

Here are seven key things to know.

What is the new requirement?

Effective Jan. 1, more than 32 million business owners need to complete a special form called the Beneficial Ownership Information Report. You’ll need to file it with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), an arm of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The form is required as part of the 2021 Corporate Transparency Act. This act aims to reduce money laundering and the concealment of illicit funds by targeting shell companies and many other entities.

Who needs to file the Beneficial Ownership Information Report?

Entities including corporations, pass-throughs, partnerships, estate and benefit plans, and foreign companies registered to do business in any U.S. state or Indian tribe will have to share information about their beneficial owners. Sole proprietorships are not included.

Beneficial owners are generally shareholders who own at least 25% of an entity, which may include:

  • Profit interests
  • Options
  • Warrants
  • Other instruments like convertible notes

Besides shareholders, beneficial owners also include people that exercise substantial control over an entity. This means senior officers, including:

  • President
  • Chief financial officer
  • General counsel
  • Chief executive officer
  • Chief operating officer

Any other officer who performs a similar function to those listed above may be required to file a report. This includes anyone with the authority to appoint or remove officers or a majority of directors of the reporting company. It could also include an important decision-maker for the reporting company, or any other individual with substantial control.

It’s important to note that there may be more than one beneficial owner of a company. Filings also need to be updated when a beneficial owner has a change of address or marital status or obtains a new driver’s license. There’s no fee to file this report.

There are 23 types of businesses that are exempted from this rule. They include:

  • Banks
  • Credit unions
  • Tax exempt entities
  • Large operating companies (generally companies with more than 20 U.S.-based employees and revenues over $5 million)

Many of these entities are exempt because they’re providing similar information via other means. Review the full list in the FinCEN’s Small Entity Compliance Guide.

What information is required?

The information you need should be easy to obtain. It includes your company’s legal and trade names, or your “doing business as” name, and street address (post office boxes are not allowed). You’ll also need to include the state where your company was formed along with relevant tax and employer identification numbers.

In addition, you’ll need to provide an image of your articles of incorporation. If you can’t find this, you can likely obtain it from your state.

Each beneficial owner will need to provide their full legal name, birthdate, and home address (again, post office boxes are not allowed). They’ll also need to provide an image of either an unexpired passport, driver’s license, or document issued by a state, local government, or Indian tribe.

What’s the due date and where do I report?

Filings for existing companies must be completed by Jan. 1, 2025. For new entities created after Jan. 1, 2024, reports are required within 90 days. You can file your reports electronically on FinCEN’s website, where you will get an electronic receipt.

How secure is my information?

Under the Corporate Transparency Act, FinCEN is allowed to permit federal, state, local, and tribal officials, as well as certain foreign officials who submit a request through a U.S. federal government agency, to obtain beneficial ownership information for authorized activities related to national security, intelligence, and law enforcement.

Financial institutions will also have access to beneficial ownership information in certain circumstances, with the consent of the reporting company.

Otherwise, FinCEN will store information in a secure, non-public database. FinCEN uses the same information security methods and controls that are typically used in the Federal government to protect non-classified but sensitive information systems.

What happens if I don’t comply?

The penalties are steep. You could incur fees up to $500 a day, up to $10,000, and up to two years in jail (per occurrence) if you intentionally provide incorrect information.

Where can I find more information?

I strongly recommend working with an experienced certified public accountant, attorney or business advisor to complete this report. It’s also important to ignore the inevitable solicitations you’ll receive from firms that claim to be experts in this area. Seek out a professional you know, or ask for a referral.”


Tech is Advancing Women’s Careers in Construction

There is one industry sector that is swinging a virtual hammer to break down the norm. In  Women near pay equity in ‘dynamic industry with endless opportunities’  by Anne Stych, Bizwomen editor, we learn that “The construction industry is one where women are almost on equal footing salary-wise, earning 95.5% of what men do, according to the industry group the National Association of Women in Construction”, says Stych.

“Nearly 1.2 million women work in construction in the United States, making up about 10 percent of the industry’s workers. But working in construction means much more than swinging a hammer,” says Danielle O’Connell, senior director of the Emerging Technology Team for Skanska USA, as technology continues to play an increasing role.

“More women should consider this exciting and dynamic industry with endless opportunities,” she said.

Anna Moll, business development manager for Skanska USA’s Civil division in New England, seconds that emotion. “She says it’s a career that guarantees no boredom because it’s fast-paced, providing opportunities for continuous learning and exposure to innovative concepts and developing technologies.” Moll said, “the construction industry encourages outside-the-box thinking and that new ideas are always welcome.”

“Construction tech is an exciting place to be,” she said. “We have seen so much new and competitive tech hit the market since 2020.”

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly increasing and transforming business and industries across the globe. “Data analytics, AI, and robotics are three examples of tools that have helped automate workflows, reducing the burden on field personnel, driving better decision-making, and ultimately improving safety, quality, and efficiency,” she said. “Construction is historically slow to change, but tech can transform the way we are doing business by providing opportunities to drive certainty for our clients and projects,” she said.

For our part, North Bay Leadership Council has joined a diverse coalition of advocates urging the Governor’s office to safeguard resources to California’s education and workforce training programs in the proposed 2024-2025 budget. This includes rejecting cuts to the Women in Construction Unit, as well as rejecting funding delay to the California Jobs First program, and rejecting cuts to High Road Training Partnerships amongst others.  The High Road Training Partnerships program enhances workforce training partnerships that prioritize workers, industry leadership, and emphasize equity, job quality and sustainability. The California Jobs First program is an inter-agency partnership to support new strategies to diversity local economies and develop industries that create high-quality, broadly accessible jobs for all Californians in the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. And the Women in Construction Unit supports women in the trades as they balance work, education, and family obligations.

Bay Area Housing for All – Hope for Improving the North Bay Housing Crisis

It’s no secret that there is a housing crisis in California that’s also particularly severe in the North Bay. And while efforts have been made since the Great Recession in 2008 to get more housing built, the programs and funding haven’t been able to meet our need for more housing. If you compare California to states like Texas and Florida, we are falling way behind in housing production. Every employer we speak to names recruiting and retaining staff as a top issue they face. Roadblocks seem to exist to prevent a sustainable, vibrant, and diverse North Bay.

In How do you solve the California housing crisis? California Association of Realtors looks at the American Dream in the Golden State  by Sarah Wheeler, we learn that in California, “… the largest state by population, one out of every eight Americans lives in the Golden State, but the homeownership rate is dismal. According to Ben Metcalf, managing director of the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, the homeownership rate for California is 50 percentage points lower than the rest of the nation at only 44% in 2021. That represents a serious downtrend from a 50% homeownership rate in 2000,” says Wheeler.

Why?  Wheeler says, “Notoriously high home prices are to blame, with monthly payments for a typical California home sitting at more than $5,500. The Terner Center has shown that about half of the homeownership gap is directly attributable to the affordability crisis, which in turn is a direct consequence of a housing supply shortage. ‘We’ve made it difficult to build new housing,’ Metcalf said, citing environmental regulations, building codes, local control and the opposition to building infill multifamily housing.”

Robert Kleinhenz, director of the Office of Economic Research at California State University, “noted that the state has been woefully undersupplied for years. In 2000, the California Association of Realtors estimated that the state would need about 250,000 new units a year to keep up with demand. But Kleinhenz said the state has never gotten close to that number, so it’s now 2 to 2.5 million units behind. ‘The increase in home prices is due to increasing demand versus supply — we have to build more,’ Kleinhenz said. ‘How many housing units are we building? For the last 10 years, building permit numbers never surpassed 120,000 units.’”

Selma Hepp, chief economist at CoreLogic, pointed out “that in 2023 the entire state of California issued only 70,000 permits for single-family homes — about the same number as the Houston metro area. ‘California [has been] the most inventory-constrained market for years.’ As a result, the housing gap is creating a labor force gap as well. ‘Think about year over year the numbers of people leaving California.’ Hepp said. ‘We need to shift the conversation to: How do we ensure kids can stay here and have the same opportunity as we did?’”

How to incentivize the production of housing has been THE question for decades. Wheeler said, “Metcalf said there have been 140 distinct pieces of legislation on housing affordability since 2016, but those laws haven’t made much impact in the permitting numbers. The passage of SB 9 in 2021 outlawed single-family zoning, and there have been numerous attempts to expand the ability to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to increase density.”

“Ministerial approval — a streamlined permit process that doesn’t require public hearings or sign-off by local officials — took effect in California in 2018 and has the potential to move housing forward. But even with all of these laws, costs and local regulations are still limiting factors for development.”

What more is needed?  Some think the modernization of the California Environmental Quality Act is key, others see better zoning, including the reuse of commercial buildings now vacant because of more remote working, and government funded low-interest loans.  But one new effort to build more housing is coming: a ballot measure for a Regional Housing Bond to fund construction of affordable housing.

The Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA) – the first regional housing finance authority in the state – wants to place a $10-$20 billion affordable housing bond measure on the November 2024 ballot to benefit the nine-county Bay Area. This money would be used to build affordable homes and help keep existing housing affordable in every county.

A $20 billion bond could create 80,000 new affordable homes — over two times more than what would be possible without a bond.

80% of the bond revenue will go directly to the nine counties and four cities—San Jose, Oakland, Santa Rosa, and Napa—letting local governments determine how best to produce and preserve affordable housing for their own communities.

BAHFA will invest 20% of the bond revenue in affordable homes throughout the region, while also generating new housing resources to support affordable housing development long after the bonds are fully spent.

Through the measure, each of the nine Bay Area counties and the four cities will adopt their own expenditure plan for how they propose to spend the money. BAHFA will review each plan and confirm that it meets basic criteria.

The majority of funds (at least 52%) must be used to produce new housing, and most of that new housing should be affordable to low- and extremely low-income residents.

NBLC is monitoring the bond development and working with other business-oriented groups to ensure that the money from the bond achieves its purpose of spurring new housing construction.  One area of focus is to have bond money help cover the costs of inclusionary zoning units in market rate projects.  Inclusionary zoning has proven to be a deterrent in new housing construction and having those costs covered could produce more housing that otherwise could not be built.

Is the SMART Train Easing Highway 101 Traffic in Marin and Sonoma?

In an article posted by KQED and written by Katarina Schwartz, ”

Driving to work every morning on congested roads is no one’s idea of a good time. And the commute on Highway 101 through Sonoma and Marin counties can be an especially laborious journey during mid-week rush hour. In an attempt to relieve congestion, provide greener transportation options and offer more ways for people to travel, the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) train opened its first stations in 2017. Since then, it has been building out its system, starting at the southern terminus of Larkspur. Eventually, it will reach all the way to Cloverdale.

Bay Curious PodcastBay Curious is a podcast that answers your questions about the Bay Area. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, NPR One or your favorite podcast platform.
Although the train has been in operation for several years now, this train service is still under the radar for a lot of Bay Area residents. Still, on a recent Thursday morning, the Marin and Sonoma residents who rode the train were enthusiastic about the service.

“I take it every single day that I can because it’s just so much quicker,” said Kelly Smith, who lives in Novato and works in San Rafael. “It’s economical. I get to chat with people on the train. It’s much more relaxing. It’s my favorite way to travel.”

Other riders agreed that riding the train is much more pleasant than slogging through traffic.

“This train corridor, you feel like you’re in Europe,” Scott Warner said. “My health is better, and my mind is better when I get to the office, not having to deal with the jam on the 101.”

The photo is taken inside the train looking out. Inside are seats in siloutte. Outside is a lush marshland with green grass poking out of a shallow body of water. In the distance a yellow hillside with dry grass rises above the marsh.
The views over the marshlands aboard the SMART train as it travels from the Petaluma train station en route to the San Rafael station. (Photo By Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)
But do these happy riders mean the SMART train is relieving congestion on Highway 101? That’s what Bay Curious listener Brian Auger, who lives in Fairfax, really wants to know.

It’s a good question, but also a tricky time to answer because in 2024, just a few years after the coronavirus pandemic, traffic and commute patterns have changed a lot.

The short answer:

A Caltrans spokesperson said there is 40% less traffic on US-101 between Larkspur, in Marin, and Sonoma Airport Blvd — an approximate location for where the SMART train line currently ends — than there was in 2019. But those numbers reflect driving at all times of the day and all days of the week, so they are likely more a product of hybrid work environments than anything else.

“Calendar year 2023, SMART carried over 750,000 riders,” SMART General Manager Eddy Cumins said. “The average trip length of those riders is 22.2 miles. So, if you do that math, that equates to 16.6 million passenger miles on the train.”

That sounds like a lot, but to give that number more context, Caltrans said the total annual vehicle miles traveled between Larkspur and Airport Blvd is more than 1.8 billion. In comparison, the miles traveled on SMART represent only the tiniest fraction of all that travel. And for even further context, SMART’s yearly ridership is close to the number of passengers BART carried each week in 2023.

In short, right now, SMART is not making a very big dent in traffic on US-101.

The longer answer:

The SMART train has only been around for a few years, most of them during or directly after the COVID-19 pandemic, which upended ridership and decimated budgets for transit agencies around the region. SMART is actually the only local transit agency to see an increase in ridership during 2023 as compared to 2019 (the last full year before the pandemic).

It’s also worth considering that the system isn’t fully built yet. Transit systems tend to become more useful the longer they’re around. A system like BART has been operating since the 1970s, and other infrastructure has been built around it. Employers have offices near BART stations, other transit agencies provide links to BART, and easy train access can even drive home prices. SMART hasn’t been around long enough to see much of this effect yet.

“We are a small system,” Cumins acknowledged. “We’re not BART. We’re not Caltrain. We have to focus on meeting the needs of the communities we serve.”

To do that, Cumins and his colleagues have been holding listening sessions with community members in Marin and Sonoma to learn how SMART can better serve riders. Right now, the most popular station is Downtown Petaluma and many riders get off in San Rafael or Larkspur. And people who travel on the train with their bikes have been consistent riders, even during the pandemic.

“We noticed a significant increase in bicycle boardings,” Cumins said. “We had some flip seats on the side of the train. We removed those seats in order to create additional bicycle parking.”

They’ve also increased service in the middle of the day, held fare prices low and created a new type of monthly commuter pass that reflects the reality of hybrid work schedules.

“And immediately, we saw a 28% increase in monthly passes,” Cumins said.

Then there were more specific needs, like local teachers expressing the need for transportation when taking school kids on field trips. Cumins said they looked at train capacity and saw they might be able to accommodate this request.

“Off-peak hours, when these kids want to travel, we have capacity there,” he said. “And so between nine and two, they can ride. So we’re now offering free field trips, too, for K-12 students. There was a field trip last week and the kids all wrote us letters thanking the SMART train. And so that’s beautiful.”

A green SMART train car sits at a station platform. The train is on the right side, and the platform is on the left. The platform has a few passengers on it in the distance.
The SMART train began operations in 2017 and continues to expand. (Paul Lancour/KQED)
Interestingly, the ridership of SMART doesn’t follow normal commute pattern expectations. While 60% of rides are in the southern direction in the morning — what you might expect — a full 40% are northbound. Students might explain some of those anomalies. Cumins said about 15% of riders on SMART trains are students heading to school.

“It’s nice, there’s no problems,” said high school student Louie. “When we come home, it doesn’t feel that crowded. It’s mostly in the morning.”

SMART is currently building the Windsor station and has several bike lanes under construction or in the planning phase as well. Part of the agency’s mission is to build out the bike path infrastructure in the region at the same time as it builds the rails, so when the system is complete, it should be a bonanza of rails and trails for residents and visitors alike.

“The one thing [riders] always say is, ‘I cannot believe how clean the train is,’” Cumins said. “The other thing that I hear from people who ride is that the area between Petaluma and Novato may be the most beautiful place on Earth, and it’s a place that you can’t get to unless you’re on the train.”


NBLC CEO Comments on Updates To The Richmond-San Rafael Bridge And West Bound Plans

In an article posted on Mercury News, written by Adrian Rodriguez, he said, ”

Bay Area transportation planners are taking another look at what it would take to open the westbound shoulder of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge for commuter traffic.

The emergency and maintenance lane on the bridge’s upper deck was converted into a bicycle and pedestrian path that is protected by a moveable barrier in 2019 for a four-year trial period.

The controversial path remains open pending a final report that could determine the fate of the test project. Critics, mostly commuters and their employers, say traffic is worse than ever, while supporters maintain the path is a successful multimodal connection between the North Bay and the East Bay.

John Goodwin, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said staffers will be presenting a proposed scope, schedule and cost for preparation of a “design alternatives study” that would include opening the shoulder as a bus and carpool lane during peak hours.

The presentation is expected at the MTC-Bay Area Toll Authority Oversight Committee meeting on March 13.

“More details to come over the next six weeks,” Goodwin said Friday.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” John Grubb, chief operating officer of the Bay Area Council, said of the planned proposal. The Bay Area Council is an influential business group that has been advocating for reopening the third lane for commuter traffic.

“Having a project requires a planning process, and what they’ve agreed to do is start that planning process,” Grubb said.

Warren Wells, policy and planning director for the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, said his group hopes bicyclists and pedestrians will continue to have access over the bridge.

“We look forward to seeing the results of the design alternatives study,” Wells said, assuming officials authorize staff to move forward with it.

Wells said he expects any new studies to show similar results to a 2021 study that showed the addition of a third lane would require $70 million to $310 million in improvements. However, he said, the potential costs likely have increased.

That study was revisited in a recent report by the Transportation Authority of Marin that detailed what it would take to open the lane. The report was expected to be presented at the TAM board meeting on Jan. 25, but it was tabled because Kevin Carroll, the board member who requested the discussion, was absent.

According to the study, it would cost about $100 million annually to move the barrier twice a day during weekdays to allow vehicular traffic during peak hours. A machine capable of doing the job would cost $1.27 million. The installation of the barrier was $12 million. The cost of removal is unknown.

The report says adding a third westbound lane would reduce travel times by 11 minutes for drivers headed toward northbound Highway 101. However, drivers traveling to southbound Highway 101 would be delayed by three minutes.

The report said it would cost between $70 million to $90 million to reconfigure the western side of the bridge in San Rafael to handle the new traffic flow. Any such projects would require overcoming environmental hurdles lasting several years.

Carroll, a member of the Larkspur City Council, said he’s experienced backups on the bridge himself. He said he didn’t need to wait for the result of the path study to be completed to know how he feels about it.

“My feeling is the sooner it ends, the better,” he said of the pilot path. “What I am hoping to get is, all the elected officials on the board of TAM, how do they feel about it.”

Marin County Supervisor Stephanie Moulton-Peters, a member of the boards governing the Transportation Authority of Marin and Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said the main issue is that “when we bring more traffic over the bridge it’s going to get backed up in Marin County and it may actually take people longer to get to work than it does currently.”

“So some improvements are needed in Marin and those improvements cost money,” Moulton-Peters said. “They’re not funded so we are looking at HOV and bus lanes as options, and it’s all under discussion.”

MTC and Caltrans are also pursuing a suite of projects — dubbed “Richmond-San Rafael Forward” — that were conceived to shave up to 17 minutes off the westbound morning commute into Marin County.

One of the projects is to remove the toll booths to make way for open-road tolling and an extended carpool lane at an estimated cost of $24 million. That project is expected to open in the winter of 2026.

Other near-term projects include a $5 million Richmond Parkway interchange, transit improvements and more bicycle infrastructure improvements.

Now, TAM officials say they want to hear about those active projects and new proposals from the regional planners leading the charge. Staffers with MTC and Caltrans are expected to give a report this spring.

Brian Colbert, chair of the TAM board and a member of the San Anselmo Town Council, said officials have to balance the needs of all their constituents. He said he is interested in seeing what planners are doing to address backup in San Rafael, too.

“It’s not just about the bike lane, it’s a full, 360-degree view of what’s going on on the bridge,” he said. “We want to look at the congestion of the corridor and what is the medium and long-term outlook of the bridge.”

An average of 115 cyclists use the path on weekdays and an average of 325 cyclists on the weekends, according to commission. The weekday pedestrian average is 15, while the weekend average is 30.

By comparison, more than 80,000 vehicles cross the 5.5-mile bridge on weekdays. Westbound drivers can experience delays of nearly half an hour during peak commute times.

Bay Area business interests say the traffic is an equity and environmental issue that needs to be addressed.

“There is huge support from employers, commuters and residents from both the East Bay and the North Bay to open the third lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge,” said Joanne Webster, president and chief executive officer of the North Bay Leadership Council. “The four year bike-ped path pilot did not produce the data, nor the mode shift many were hoping for.”

North Bay Leadership Council Endorses Proposition 1-Vote on March 5th

The North Bay Leadership Council announces its support of Proposition One, also known as Behavioral Health Services Program and Bond Measure   The two-pronged proposition on the March 5th ballot includes a nearly $6.4 billion bond to build 10,000 treatment units and supportive housing.

It also asks voters to redefine how counties spend money collected from a special “millionaire’s tax” already passed by the voters, to allocate a share of it for housing for people with behavioral health illnesses.

Housing and homelessness continue to be top issues for the business community in the North Bay. Employers are experiencing an increase in crime and worried about the safety of their employees and customers from those suffering from acute mental illness and substance abuse. It is our goal to support housing for the unhoused with the goal of placing them in permanent, supportive housing where they can get the assistance needed. Our state needs to prioritize Californians with the deepest mental health needs, living in encampments, or suffering the worst substance use issues. This ballot measure will refocus billions of dollars in existing funds and provide bond funding for housing homeless individuals, those at risk of being homeless, and veterans with mental health or substance abuse disorders.

Another item we are watching closely is the U.S. Supreme Court decision to review a controversial lower federal court ruling that disallows local jurisdictions from banning camping on sidewalks, streets, parks or other public places. We will continue to update you on this item.

Proposition 1: Behavioral Health Bond and Services Act on the March Ballot

To provide more help for the unhoused, the Governor has placed a ballot measure on the March election.  In Gavin Newsom’s mental health plan is going to voters. Here’s what you need to know by Kristen Hwang (Link) we learn that “California voters next spring will get to decide on a ballot measure to create housing and treatment options, especially for homeless individuals with serious mental illness. If it passes, the measure championed by Gov. Gavin Newsom would mark the first major overhaul of the state’s community mental health system in 20 years.”

Hwang says, “The two-pronged proposition on the March primary election ballot includes a nearly $6.4 billion bond to build 10,000 treatment units and supportive housing. It also asks voters to redefine how counties spend money collected from a special ‘millionaire’s tax’ to allocate a share of it for housing for people with behavioral health illnesses.”

Newsom and supporters have promoted Proposition 1 as a way to help address the state’s deteriorating homelessness and addiction crises. They contend increased investment and an update to the state’s Mental Health Services Act is ‘long overdue.’ The most significant change put forth by the governor is a requirement that counties invest 30% of their Mental Health Services Act tax dollars — roughly $1 billion based on last year’s revenue — in housing programs, including rental subsidies and navigation services. Counties would have to spend half this money on people who are chronically homeless or living in encampments. They could also use up to one quarter of the money to build or purchase housing units.

The second half of Newsom’s proposal places a $6.4 billion general obligation bond before voters to dramatically expand the state’s psychiatric and addiction treatment infrastructure.

The California Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Prop 1. “California employers are on the front lines of our state’s homelessness crisis and many have been challenged with safety issues for both their workers and customers,” said CalChamber President and CEO Jennifer Barrera. “Today, the CalChamber board voted to support Proposition 1 because it provides an effective and ambitious plan that addresses the three interrelated social crises of homelessness, untreated serious mental illness and drug abuse in California. Importantly, the measure includes accountability metrics that will ensure funds are spent in the most effective ways possible so that services that are foundational for treatment are successful.”

“If approved by voters, Proposition 1 will authorize $6.38 billion in general obligation bonds to finance, among other things, more treatment beds and supportive housing units for Californians with severe behavioral health challenges and substance use disorders. Specifics of the measure can be found here (chromeextension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://www.lao.ca.gov/ballot/2024/proposition-1.pdf?utm_campaign=Press%20Release&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=285782820&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8fof2z3RGTJKSlmnLCMydGBbipKEBp-mswQyltiCgAWlLhO5WRRGOirYR58HtW7Zj-lryPFn-0cVYW5UwSIwZWS-gmnLGDj8tSFQd1orfx78szdmU&utm_content=285782820&utm_source=hs_email).”

“In addition to support from the business community, Prop. 1 has been endorsed by health care entities and cities.”

Other support for Prop 1 was found In the PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and their Government, (December 2023

https://www.ppic.org/publication/ppic-statewide-survey-californians-and-their-government-december-2023/) where “two in three likely voters would vote yes on Proposition 1, which includes the Behavioral Health Bond and Services Act.”

“Six in ten Californians name economic conditions, homelessness, and housing as the three most important issues facing the people of California today.”

“A solid majority continues to view homelessness as a big problem in their part of California. Most are concerned about the presence of homeless people in their local community and see someone who is experiencing homelessness on a frequent basis. About two in ten say they have frequently interacted with homeless people or that they or someone in their close family has experienced homelessness or housing insecurity. Overwhelming majorities say that substance abuse (78%) and lack of affordable housing (70%) are major factors in homelessness in their local community. Majorities across parties favor policies to help people experiencing homelessness.”

“Californians name jobs, economy, and inflation, homelessness, and housing as the top state issues. Overwhelming majorities across the state’s major regions view housing affordability as a big problem in their part of California. About half say the cost of housing is a financial strain, and about half of lower-income adults and renters report that the cost of housing causes “a lot” of financial strain. Majorities of Californians across partisan and demographic groups and regions say the state needs more policies geared toward making both homebuying and rental housing more accessible.”

Given the housing crisis in California which contributes to the growth in homelessness, there is some good news for 2024.  In California’s Economy: Reasons For Optimism  (https://cbcal.com/californias-economy-reasons-optimism/), UCLA Anderson Forecast report “expects a continued recovery in the housing market, including consistent new homebuilding and a demand for housing. Real estate represents a large portion of California’s GDP. According to Statista, finance, insurance, real estate, and leasing (grouped together in this metric) were $477 billion in 2022, second only to professional and business services. 2023 has been a fairly unstable year for housing throughout the country.”

“In September, the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) released its 2024 Housing Market Forecast. Their predictions were guardedly optimistic, including the following:”

  • Housing affordability (the percentage of households able to afford a home at the median price) will remain flat at 17%.
  • The median home price will reach $860,300, a rise of 6.2%.
  • Sale of existing single-family homes will increase to 327,100 units, a rise of 22.3% from 2023.
  • Slower growth and declining inflation will reduce mortgage interest rates and help stimulate home sales in California.

These housing market forecasts are another reason to be cautiously optimistic about the overall strength of California’s economy in the coming years.

More Money, Same Problems

Sen. Steven Glazer is a Democrat who wants to see more accountability in state government.  He wrote an op ed back in July that points out that the Legislature keeps missing the boat by continuing to fund programs that don’t live up to expectations.  In Opinion: More money, same problems: My fellow California Democrats keep repeating this mistake (Link), Sen Glazer writes, “The California Legislature…passed the latest state budget. The $310-billion plan is a reflection of our values, dedicating spending to getting homeless people off the street, supporting schools, keeping public transit afloat and treating mental illness. As a member of the state Senate’s Democratic majority, I voted for all of those things.”

“But as many Californians know, we’ve already spent billions of dollars on the same problems — with very little to show for it.”

“Our failures are evidence that good intentions and lots of money are not enough to fix what ails the Golden State. To make our progressive beliefs mean anything, the Legislature must ensure that the money we spend is actually improving the lives of the people we say we are committed to helping.”

“We can do that with two major changes in the way we work. First, we need to stop hamstringing programs and services with special interest demands that doom them to fail. Second, we need to gather and evaluate data on how our programs are working, and that includes supporting independent watchdogs to tell us when government is wasting our money and failing to get the job done.”

“Consider our much-discussed commitment to affordable housing. Five years ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee killed a proposal to make it harder to use the courts to slow and ultimately block new affordable housing. Not a single Democrat voted for the bill. A year later, a similar bill cleared the Senate but was killed in the Assembly.”

“Finally, in 2021, the idea won overwhelming Democratic support. What changed? The bill was amended to require that affordable projects use only ‘skilled and trained’ labor — code for union workers — even though state law already required such projects to pay union-level wages. The provision will make it that much more expensive and difficult to build housing, putting the interests of construction unions ahead of the needs of low-income people who can’t afford a place to live.”

“Efforts to help homeless Californians have been similarly stymied. Proposals to require treatment for mentally ill individuals who are living on the street and too sick to care for themselves have repeatedly been blocked by civil rights groups arguing that people essentially have a right to live homeless and untreated.”

“Or consider the public schools. Democrats know that hundreds of our schools are failing and far too many kids are unable to read, write or do math at grade level. And we know that those struggling students are disproportionately low-income children of color. But that issue gets almost no attention from Democrats in the Capitol, who have made no recent efforts to discover why schools are falling short and what can be done to improve them.”

“Legislation to hold bureaucracies more accountable is also a tough sell in Sacramento. The Legislature wants to bail out the Bay Area Rapid Transit system by increasing bridge tolls. But for the past two years, Democrats have blocked a proposal to give BART’s inspector general the independence to hold the system accountable for how it spends the money it has.”

“And while we spend more than $6 billion a year on mental health services, the state has very little information about which programs are working and which are not. Yet the Newsom administration has quietly opposed legislation to collect data and measure results. Bills to do so were introduced in 2021 and 2022 but failed to advance.”

“There are glimmers of hope for more effective approaches. Bills by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), for example, would promote affordable housing without caving to the unions, and they appear to have a good chance of passing. Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) is again pushing legislation that would allow real intervention to help people with mental illness and addiction get off the street, and it might actually pass this time.”

“Meanwhile, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee approved independent performance audits of the state’s long-troubled wage theft enforcement program as well as our woeful performance on homelessness. We can only hope those investigations lead to meaningful change.”

“But that’s just a start. We need a lot more principled leadership if California’s progressives are serious about creating a government and a society that are a compassionate and sustainable national model — and not a cautionary tale of failed hopes and promises.” Amen!

San Rafael Chamber CEO to Head North Bay Leadership Council

In an article in the Marin Independent Journal, written by Richard Halstead wrote, “The CEO of the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce has been selected to head the North Bay Leadership Council, a regional business advocacy organization.

The council’s longtime president and CEO, Cynthia Murray, is retiring. Joanne Webster, president and CEO of the chamber has been named to take her place.

“I had planned to retire in 2020,” Murray said, “but then the pandemic hit, and I decided that I should stay with the organization and see them through it. I have seen them through it, and I’m now 73, and I think it’s a perfect time to retire.”

Webster said, “It took a very special position for me to leave the chamber because I love San Rafael, and I love the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce. I’m going to be able to advocate for businesses on a larger platform and on a regional level. I’m very excited.”

Murray has headed the 33-year-old council for the last 17 years. She doubled the organization’s membership after serving only a few years in the position. The nonprofit, employer-led public policy advocacy organization has a little over 50 dues-paying members.

“We’re the voice of employers, not just the voice of business,” Murray said, “because we do have many nonprofits and public members. We look for the leaders in their sectors.”

Collectively, the council’s members have over 25,000 employees.

Murray’s tenure with the council has been eventful. Two years after she arrived, the nation lapsed into the Great Recession. The recession was followed by major wildfires in the North Bay fueled by climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s becoming more and more apparent,” Murray said, “that having organizations that represent employers at the table when you’re trying to formulate public policy in a time of uncertainty and change is really important.

She added, “I’ve really seen an increased need for business, government and nonprofits to all work together to achieve goals.”

Murray said her experience as a Marin County supervisor from 1999 to 2006 prepared her well for leading the council.

“It gave me an advantage in understanding how decisions are made,” she said, “what works and doesn’t work when you’re trying to present new ideas.”

Webster began her career in business before being introduced to local government.

After growing up in Swampscott, Massachusetts, and earning her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science at Boston College, Webster moved to California to operate a Double Rainbow Cafe franchise together with her husband Charlie Garfink, whom she met in college.

“I was really excited about coming to the Golden State,” Webster said. “When you’re a little girl and you grow up in New England, you have visions of what that means.”

Webster and her husband opened their first Double Rainbow Cafe in Los Gatos and then a second one in San Rafael in 1988. They sold the Los Gatos franchise after the cafe suffered damage during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. They bought a house in Fairfax and focused on the San Rafael cafe, which they would jointly operate for 23 years.

“One of the hardest things you can do is meet a payroll,” Webster said. “You can be a business with 10 employees or a business with 100. You have similar challenges. It’s just on a different scale.”

From 2001 to 2011, she also served as director of San Rafael’s business improvement district. The city devoted revenue derived from a portion of its business license fee to promotion of the downtown business district, and Webster helped guide how the money was spent.

“I really got to understand how the city was run and had the opportunity of creating very strong relationships with elected officials and city staff,” Webster said. “I got them to understand how challenging it is to run a business.”

When Webster and her husband sold the Double Rainbow franchise to a former employee in 2011, Webster became director of marketing for the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce, and in 2014 she was named president and CEO of the chamber.

Webster said her biggest challenge as chamber CEO was responding to the pandemic. She is proud of the fact that San Rafael was the first chamber of commerce in Marin to create a disaster relief fund for local businesses.

“We were able to solicit a quarter of a million dollars in donations so we could give out over 75 grants to small businesses,” Webster said. “I still have a lot of those businesses thank me for that because they were able to pay rent or pay their employees and keep their doors open.”

Webster said the pandemic took a heavy toll on sole proprietorships in San Rafael, due to difficulties they experienced getting Paycheck Protection Program loans.

“We kept as many businesses open as we possibly could,” Webster said, “whether they were chamber members or not.”

Webster said the biggest challenge North Bay Leadership Council members face is finding employees.

“What we’re hearing from employers is that the cost of living in the North Bay is making it really difficult to recruit,” Webster said. “We’re seeing a lot of positions remaining unfilled. It’s having an impact on the efficiency of companies’ operations. A lack of housing at all price levels is driving the problem.”

Beginning in November, Webster will work alongside Murray, until Murray departs at the end of the year.

“Joanne leaves the chamber on solid footing,” said Carol Parks, who heads the chamber board. “Our membership is strong with over 500 member businesses, representing over 26,000 employees across 25 different industry sectors.”

In a statement, Murray said, “There is no one more capable of leading NBLC into its next iteration than Joanne.”

NBLC Announces Joanne Webster as Incoming CEO

North Bay Leadership Council (NBLC) has hired Joanne Webster as their incoming CEO upon the retirement of longtime CEO, Cynthia Murray at the end of the year.  Jordan Lavinsky, Chair of NBLC’s Board, said “The Board is confident that Joanne Webster can take North Bay Leadership Council to the next level in leading on public policy issues of interest to the leading employers in the North Bay. We are excited to have her as the voice of employers who have a big role to play in shaping sound public policy.”

Joanne Webster has been with the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce since 2011, serving as President and CEO for the past 9 years. For three decades, Joanne has been an active member of the business community, winning Marin’s Small Business of the Year and Spirit of Marin Awards in 1998 and 2008 and, as Chamber CEO, the North Bay’s Best Business Community Leader Award in 2021.  Her specialties include business advocacy, connecting leaders and influencers, and building coalitions.

“I am honored and excited to succeed Cynthia Murray as the CEO of the North Bay Leadership Council and am deeply grateful for the opportunity. I look forward to working with the Board of Directors, membership and staff in the coming months as we move the organization forward together,” Webster said.

Lavinsky also thanked Cynthia Murray upon her retirement.  He said, “Cynthia Murray led the last big transformation of NBLC and her 17 years as CEO and President have made NBLC a force in the North Bay, the greater Bay Area, and the state of California.  We appreciate her leadership and ability to steer NBLC through uncertain times, having led the Council through the Great Recession and the pandemic.”  Murray will continue to assist NBLC as a consultant after her retirement.

Cynthia Murray said, “It has been my honor to lead NBLC and see it grow in clout and effectiveness. I leave knowing that NBLC is in good hands with Joanne Webster at the helm.  We have worked together for years and there is no one more capable of leading NBLC into its next iteration than Joanne.  I look forward to a smooth transition as Joanne successfully steps into the leadership role.”

Webster will join NBLC starting in November and will work with Murray until the end of the year.

North Bay Leadership Council is an employer-led public policy advocacy organization committed to providing leadership in ways to make the North Bay sustainable, prosperous and innovative. As business and civic leaders, their goal is to ensure economic health by building more housing, improving mobility, promoting better education, and creating jobs to make our region a better place to live and work. Collectively, their members have over 25,000 employees.