ACEC California-Sponsored Legislation Signed into Law, End of Session Preview

2018 is proving to be another successful year in ACEC California’s legislative undertakings. Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 920 (Cannella) last week, which extends the permission for engineering, land surveying, and architectural firms to organize as limited liability partnerships (LLP) in California. Without this legislation, these professions’ ability to form LLPs would have expired on January 1, 2019; instead, the permission is extended for an additional seven years. ACEC California enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres)—the organization’s 2017 legislator of the year—and co-sponsors, the American Institute of Architects California Council.

ACEC California members and the design professional community at large have prioritized preserving this form of partnership option because LLPs provide flexible management, operation, and taxation structures. LLPs are a hybrid of a corporation and a general partnership.  Like a general partnership, all partners have equal rights in the management of an LLP. Simply, SB 920 ensures one more tool that California businesses can employ that allows them to be nimble in a 21st Century economy. ACEC California is confident that after several more years of design professionals demonstrating successful and responsible use of LLPs, the Legislature will eliminate the sunset altogether.

Although ACEC California achieved early success by having its sponsored legislation signed in July, it is anticipated that the remainder of the session will be fast-paced and demanding. Before the two-year legislative session adjourns at midnight on August 31, legislators will make decisions on the hundreds of remaining bills. ACEC California leadership, Legislative Committee and advocates continue to be actively engaged in monitoring bills, lending support to policies that promote the design professions, and negotiating to remove language from bills that would hinder California’s business climate.

This year, ACEC California has already been effective in staving off an attempt to require the use public employees for certain public works projects in Orange County, neutralizing an unreasonable CEQA expansion, and working in coalition to sideline a bill that would excise design and construction companies from statutes of repose for water contamination lawsuits. In the coming weeks, ACEC California will continue to participate in, among other things, the Legislature’s ongoing discussions related to restructuring California’s tax-scheme. One proposal, Senator Bob Hertzberg’s (D-Van Nuys) SB 993, includes a new tax on services, which would include engineering and land surveying services. While SB 993 is not expected to progress this year, it is imperative that ACEC California and other professional associations educate lawmakers about the chilling economic impact such a tax would effect. Stay tuned for a complete legislative wrap-up in September!

ACEC California’s Engineering Excellence Awards Wrap Up

ACEC California’s 1st Annual Scholarship Foundation Fundraising Dinner presenting the ACEC California Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) was held on Thursday, February 2, 2017 at the Parc 55 Hotel in San Francisco, California. With over 300 attendees and 28 firms receiving awards, this year’s awards ceremony recognized recent achievements of the engineering and surveying industries.

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Bill Wagner presenting the 2016 Legislator of the Year award to Senator Patricia Bates, at the EEA Banquet.

In December we announced Senator Pat Bates as our Legislator of the Year. We were honored that the Senator was able to accept the award at our EEA banquet.

Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center was not the only project to receive an award. Notably, many firms won multiple awards. The top 18 award winners were eligible for the top California Golden State Award. And all 18 of these Honor Award winners are eligible to go on to the national Engineering Excellence Award competition in Washington D.C.

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Left to Right: Megan Guida, Ralph Guida, Senator Bates, Kurt Yoshii, Jeff Walker, and Stephanie Wagner.

Brad Diede, Executive Director of ACEC California stated, “Many deserving projects were submitted to this competition. All of these firms should be very proud their contributions to our society. We were pleased to be able to recognize their distinctive and inventive concepts.”

For a complete list of all the award winners, click here.

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Brad Diede, Corey Walker (Past Scholarship Award Winner) and family at the EEA Reception.

ACEC California is excited to have brought the Scholarship Foundation and EEA together and affirm the fundamental role that ACEC California member firms play in building and maintaining the quality of our infrastructure. Thank you to our panel of judges and our members’ support. Congratulations to all our award winners!

Click here for a look at all the photos from the banquet!

 

Road Charge Pilot Program Preparation

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Road Charge Pilot Program Preparation
By Kelly Garman, Director of Government Affairs

I’ve had a bit of a frustrating start to my participation in the Road Charge Pilot Program, but I remain hopeful that it will be resolved shortly so I can actually participate in the program. Below is a timeline of my first week, in preparation of the actual launch of the program on July 1st.

 June 29 – I received in the mail the Azuga device that will plug into my vehicle and wirelessly report my mileage. I hadn’t requested a device that uses GPS (I had a choice when I enrolled), but I admit that there was a small twinge of anxiety as I opened the box and saw this little green electronic device, just waiting for me to plug it in.

I understand the privacy concerns raised by many regarding the government tracking my miles, but I have also had many conversations with Malcolm Dougherty, Director of Caltrans, and trust that the Road Charge Task Force will, in fact, do all they can to protect my private information, as the government does with other information collected, including addresses, social security numbers, drivers license information, etc… Furthermore, with my smartphone, I use Strava GPS to track my runs, WAZE to tell me how to beat the traffic to work and Uber when I am out of town but need to get around. I’m already being tracked (and, odds are, so are you if you use smartphone applications).

Still, I made the decision not to give Azuga and the state of California the ability to locate my vehicle during this pilot program.

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Road Charge Pilot Program: I’m Enrolled!

By: Kelly Garman, Director of Government Affairs, ACEC California

The gas tax.

As the Director of Government Affairs for ACEC California, it’s something I’ve learned quite a bit about the last three years. Every transportation seminar and conference, every transportation-related bill moving through the legislature, and every time I’ve ever heard Malcolm Dougherty, Will Kempton, Senator Beall or Assembly Member Frazier speak in a public setting, the decline of the gas tax has been front and center.

And understandably so – there are more fuel-efficient cars on the roads these days, contributing to a decline in the gas tax, which is the revenue stream used to fix California’s roads. It’s a big deal. On behalf of ACEC California and as a longtime California resident, I believe this decline translates into a dire need to search for a long-term solution.

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Walter P Moore Wins National ACEC Engineering Award

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From left to right: Brad Diede, Executive Director, ACEC California; John Moossazadeh, ACEC California National Director; and the Walter P Moore team winning the Grand Conceptor Award in Washington, DC.

This week, Walter P Moore was awarded with the prestigious Grand Conceptor Award at the national Excellence in Engineering Awards (EEA) in Washington, D.C. Their project, the Air Traffic Control Tower and Integrated Facilities Building at San Francisco International Airport, uses a cutting-edge post-tensioned system, enabling the tower to self-right and remain fully operational after a magnitude 7.5 earthquake.

Walter P Moore’s project was also honored earlier this year with the Golden State Award during ACEC California’s annual EEA awards. Click here to read ACEC California’s press release.

Walter P Moore Air Traffic Control Tower and Integrated Facilities Building at San Francisco International Airport

Air Traffic Control Tower and Integrated Facilities Building at San Francisco International Airport.

Each of the innovative projects that received either an Engineering Excellence Merit or Honor Award from ACEC California were profiled in ACEC California’s annual magazine, Engineering and Surveying Business Review. To see visuals of all of the award winners’ exceptional work, click here for the online version of Engineering and Surveying Business Review.

AECOM and Carollo Engineers in Sacramento Earn Engineering Excellence Awards

ACEC California’s annual Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) competition recognizes outstanding achievements in engineering and land surveying projects completed by California firms. This year, two firms located in Sacramento – AECOM and Carollo Engineers – were named as 2016 recipients of this prestigious award for their work on two critical projects that provided careful and thorough analysis of urban levees in the Central Valley and the restoration of clean drinking water to the City of Delano, California.

AECOM California Department of Water Resources Urban Levee Evaluation Project

AECOM garnered an Honor Award for its work on the California Department of Water Resources Urban Levee Evaluation Project in Central Valley, CA. As part of the project, AECOM completed an innovative evaluation of 415 miles of urban levees, protecting more than 1 million people and more than $64 billion of property in California’s Central Valley. The project included an unprecedented multi-faceted exploration program, development of a comprehensive program technical guidance document for levee evaluation, and preparation of geo-technical evaluation for 19 urban study areas.

DCIM206MEDIADJI_0166.JPGCarollo Engineers, Inc. also garnered an Honor Award for its work on the Delano biottta™ Wellhead Nitrate Treatment Demonstration Project in Delano, CA. In April 2014, the State of California approved a grant-funded project to help provide the City of Delano with safe drinking water. The $5 million grant allowed the City to remove one of California’s most widespread groundwater contaminants: nitrates. Classified in the category of “pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors,” nitrates can cause significant health problems when consumed in drinking water. The grant funded a three-year pilot and demonstration project for removal of nitrate from the city’s drinking water. The City of Delano subsequently installed and is operating a biottta™ nitrate treatment system, designed by Carollo Engineers. The biottta™ system is being used on a critical municipal supply well that exceeded the required safety levels for nitrates.

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 An EEA awards dinner will be held at the Hard Rock Café in San Diego, on January 28th, 2016, and Honor Award winning projects will have photographic panels on display at the Capitol, outside of the Governor’s office, during National Engineers Week in February 2016.

Because of their selection by ACEC California, Honor Award winners are eligible to enter the ACEC National level Engineering Excellence Awards competition, which will be held this winter.

 

 

Firms in San Francisco & San Jose Earn Engineering Excellence Awards

ACEC California’s annual Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) competition recognizes outstanding achievements in engineering and land surveying projects completed by California firms. This year, five firms located in either Santa Clara County or the San Francisco Bay Area were named as 2016 recipients of this prestigious award.

Cornerstone Structural Engineering Group, Inc., headquartered in Fresno with district offices in San Francisco, received an Honor Award for its work on the San Francisco Zoo-South American Rain Forest Exhibit in San Francisco.

SF Zoo So. American Tropical Rainforest & Avairy

Cornerstone provided the structural engineering services required to create the San Francisco Zoo’s newest exhibit as well as seismically retrofit the historic WPA building. The Aviary features a realistic rainforest ecosystem, full of colorful free-flight birds, exotic plants and trees, a charming two-toed sloth, and the Zoo’s first significant herpetological collection—which will include a 15-foot long green anaconda as well as rare tree frogs, turtles, lizards, and snakes.

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California’s Aging Water Infrastructure

2015 ACEC Infrastructure Discussion paperMillions of gallons of water are wasted every year through water line breaks in local cities and counties throughout California. The water agencies who own and maintain these various water delivery systems cannot keep up with the deferred maintenance of these aging systems, some of which are over 100 years old. Potentially the easiest solution for water agencies would be to raise their rates to consumers in order to fund much needed maintenance. But too often utilities and elected officials struggle to find the political will to raise water rates to proactively repair and replace aging pipes. Continue reading

Assembly Member Jim Frazier Named 2015 Legislator of the Year

Frazier head shotFor his strong support of investing in innovative transportation infrastructure systems in California, ACEC California is pleased to announce that we have selected Assembly Member Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) as our 2015 Legislator of the Year.

“Assembly Member Frazier knows well the importance of efficient and effective transportation systems in California,” said Bruce Presser, ACEC California President. “From ensuring that local governments are empowered to more effectively manage their roadways through express ways, to supporting a comprehensive statewide transportation infrastructure investment, Assembly Member Frazier is not afraid to stand up for his values. “

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Out And About With Legislative Leaders

ACEC California joined other members of the Fix Our Roads coalition, the Governor and Speaker at a press conference in Oakland last week to highlight the need to pass a transportation funding package this legislative session.  The press conference was followed by a listening roundtable in Walnut Creek where members of the Legislature heard from local officials, business and labor about transportation challenges in their region and why we think the Fix Our Roads coalition principles are the right ones to guide a solution.

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Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Brad Diede, executive director, ACEC California.

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Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly and Ralph Guida, Guida Surveying.

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Ralph Guida, Guida Surveying; Assembly Member Jim Frazier; Brad Diede, executive director, ACEC California.

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Agnes Webber, Vail Cooper & Associates and Assembly Member Susan Bonilla.

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Stephen Boll of Kleinfelder, speaking with Assembly Member Catherine Baker and Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian.