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November 30, 2010

QUIZ ON FINANCIAL SCAMS FEATURED IN LATEST FDIC NEWSLETTER FOR CONSUMERS

QUIZ ON FINANCIAL SCAMS FEATURED IN LATEST FDIC NEWSLETTER FOR CONSUMERS

 

Other timely topics include deposit insurance coverage and dealing with debt problems

 

Con artists are very good at tricking consumers into parting with money or divulging personal information that can be used to commit fraud.  To help test people’s knowledge about financial scams, the Fall 2010 issue of FDIC Consumer News, published by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, features a quiz on common frauds and their warning signs.  Other timely articles discuss FDIC insurance coverage, solutions to mortgage and other debt problems, “credit protection” offers, student loans, ways to save money at tax time, and automated overdraft payment programs.

 

The latest issue can be read or printed online at www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnfall10.

 

The FDIC encourages financial institutions, government agencies, consumer organizations, educators, the media and anyone else to help make the tips and information in FDIC Consumer News widely available. The publication may be reprinted in whole or in part without advance permission. Organizations also may link to or mention the FDIC Web site.  See the Web site above for more details.

 

The goal of FDIC Consumer News is to deliver timely, reliable and innovative tips and information about financial matters, free of charge. Current and past issues are online at www.fdic.gov/consumernews. 

 

Please forward this e-mail to anyone else you think would be interested in reading FDIC Consumer News or learning about the FDIC’s other products and services for consumers.  Others wishing to subscribe to this free online delivery service should follow instructions posted on the FDIC Web site at www.fdic.gov/about/subscriptions/index.html. 
 
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U.S. EPA Fines Kettleman City Landfill

For Immediate Release:  November 30, 2010
Media Contact:  Nahal Mogharabi, mogharabi.nahal@epa.gov

 

U.S. EPA Fines Kettleman City Landfill
Chemical Waste Management Fails to Meet EPA Requirements for PCB Storage and Disposal

 

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today fined Chemical Waste Management, Inc. (CWM) more than $300,000 for failure to properly manage PCBs at its Kettleman Hills Hazardous Waste Landfill. In order to protect human health and the environment, EPA regulations and facility specific permit requirements require that PCBs are properly tracked, stored and disposed. EPA vigorously enforces PCB requirements and will continue to monitor this facility and other PCB storage and disposal facilities.

 

The CWM Kettleman Hills Facility is a commercial hazardous waste facility located in Kings County, CA. The facility handles the treatment, storage and disposal of PCBs, hazardous and non-hazardous waste. The Kettleman Hills Landfill is the only landfill in California federally regulated to handle PCBs, and is just one of ten PCB regulated landfills in the country.

 

“Companies charged with safely disposing of society’s most toxic materials need to rigorously follow the protective laws established to secure both the public safety and public trust. Violations of federal environmental laws at the Kettleman hazardous waste facility are unacceptable,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest.

 

During a series of 2010 inspections, EPA investigators found that CWM improperly managed PCBs at the facility. Further analysis revealed spills next to the facility’s PCB Storage and Flushing Building. Samples taken by EPA and CWM in and around the building detected PCBs at elevated levels ranging from 2.1 parts per million (ppm) up to 440 ppm. These levels are above the regulatory limit of 1 ppm and, in soil, demonstrate that PCBs were improperly disposed of in violation of federal law.

 

In January 2010, EPA committed to working with the State of California and the community of Kettleman City to both investigate compliance with federal laws and research environmental stressors. The current fines relate to the mismanagement of PCBs within the confines of CWM’s property.  There is no evidence to suggest that the current spills posed any danger to adjacent communities.  The question of whether there is any human health or environmental risk of PCBs migrating off site is being evaluated by a PCB congener study that is nearing completion.

 

PCBs are liquids that were used in electrical transformers, capacitors, circuit breakers, voltage regulators/switches, plasticizers, and additives in lubricating and cutting oils. Tests have shown that PCBs cause cancer in animals and are suspected carcinogens in humans. Acute PCB exposure can also adversely affect the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems as well as liver function.

 

The EPA’s Hazardous Waste Program oversees the safe management and disposal of hazardous waste including PCBs. Concerns about human health and the extensive presence and lengthy persistence of PCBs in the environment led Congress to enact the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976. The Act authorized EPA to secure information on all new and existing chemical substances, as well as to control any of the substances that were determined to cause unreasonable risk to public health or the environment.        

 

In addition to the PCB releases, CWM failed to fully comply with information and decontamination requirements.  A PCB container label and some materials containing PCBs did not display essential data required by federal law. EPA investigations also found that CWM failed to decontaminate PCB handling areas prior to continued use.

 

CWM has cleaned up PCB releases at the facility under a cleanup plan approved by EPA and the State of California, Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).  The plan was submitted to the agencies and approved in September and October 2010. DTSC issued a Corrective Action Order on October 18th that required CWM to clean up PCB contamination in accordance with state and federal requirements. CWM will be submitting a final report documenting its cleanup to both agencies.

 

For more information on PCB violations found at the Kettleman Hills Facility, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region9/kettleman/index.html

 

For more information on PCB regulation and enforcement as well as the Toxic Substances Control Act, please visit: http://epa.gov/region9/toxic/pcb/index.html

 

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November 29, 2010

Notice of Letters to Assessors

State Board of Equalization

 

 

Notice of Letters to Assessors

 

 

You have subscribed to the State Board of Equalization Notice of Letters to Assessors (LTAs).

 

LTA No. 2010/066 - Assessors' Handbook Section 581, Equipment and Fixtures Index, Percent Good and Valuation Factors, dated November 29, 2010, has been posted to our website.
 

 

It can be viewed at:
http://www.boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/pdf/lta10066.pdf                    
   

 

All other LTA's issued for the current year can be accessed through
http://www.boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/2010.htm                              

                   

State Board of Equalization

 

 

Notice of Letters to Assessors

 

 

You have subscribed to the State Board of Equalization Notice of Letters to Assessors (LTAs).

 

LTA No. 2010/065 - Assessors' Handbook Section 534, Rural Building Costs, dated November 29, 2010, has been posted to our website.
 

 

It can be viewed at:
http://www.boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/pdf/lta10065.pdf                    
   

 

 

You have subscribed to the State Board of Equalization Notice of Letters to Assessors (LTAs).

 

LTA No. 2010/064 - Assessors' Handbook Section 531, Residential Building Costs, dated November 29, 2010, has been posted to our website.
 

 

It can be viewed at:
http://www.boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/pdf/lta10064.pdf                    
   

 
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Environmental Compliance: What Every Real Estate Lawyer Needs to Know Now
 

12/02/2010

Presented by: Real Property Section

Subsection/Committee: General Real Property Subsection

Program Information:
This program will provide a practical overview of important environmental regulations and issues that are likely to impact transactional real estate lawyers and their clients in California, such as AB 32, Proposition 23, SB 375, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), state and local “green building code” rules, and voluntary private-sector sustainability initiatives. The presentation will also cover trends respecting environmental regulations likely to impact California businesses.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR WEBCAST PARTICIPANTS: Webinar registration for this program closes on 11/30/2010. Early registration is required. Login information will be forwarded to each webinar registrant twenty-four hours before the event, so please ensure that your email address is correct. To receive full CLE credit for viewing the webinar, registrants must login individually (it is recommended that registrants login five minutes early).

Speakers:
Roger J. Holt, Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman Machtinger & Kinsella LLP

Location:
Los Angeles County Bar Association
1055 West 7th Street, 27th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Room: La Brea/La Cienega Conference Room

 

Parking:
Self Parking at 1055 W. 7th St. After 8:00am: $10.00 and After 5:00pm: $5.00

Times:
Registration: 12:00 PM - 12:30 PM
Meal/Reception: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Program: 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

This product is also available as a Live Webcast. If you prefer to attend the live webcast, click here.

Prices:
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November 28, 2010

Get in on the ground floor, http://commercialappraiser.services.officelive.com help us create a Commercial Review Appraiser Site.
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November 27, 2010

"Usual and Customary Fees

<a href="Frank">http://www.federalreserve.gov/generalinfo/foia/ElectronicCommentForm.cfm?doc_id=R-1397&doc_ver=1&name=Dodd-Frank%20Act-%20Regulation%20Y%20-%20Conformance%20Period%20for%20Entities%20Engaged%20in%20Prohibited%20Proprietary%20Trading%20or%20Private%20Equity%20Fund%20or%20Hedge%20Fund%20Activities&date=20101117a</a>

Has anyone taken the time to submit their input regarding Appraiser Independance and "Usual and Customary Fees" on the FDIC website? Remember we are running out of time. Give them your input!!!

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November 23, 2010

This year’s sixth edition of Breakthroughs

November 2010
This year’s sixth edition of Breakthroughs has just been posted on the Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse (RBC) website. In this issue, you’ll read about shared equity housing mechanisms, a sustainable community rapid assessment tool, and Arlington County, Virginia’s green building incentive program.
Check out the November issue of Breakthroughs to see how...
·         Shared equity housing tools can preserve affordable homeownership opportunities over the long term;
·         An online assessment tool can help communities evaluate and implement sustainable development policies; and
·         Arlington County, Virginia is encouraging green building practices.
Again, you can read or download the current issue at http://www.huduser.org/portal/rbc/newsletter/vol9iss6_1.html. If you have similar stories that you think would help others, we’d like to know about them. Call us at 1-800-245-2691, option 4, or send us an email at rbcsubmit@huduser.org. Who knows, we may even highlight your community’s efforts in a future issue of Breakthroughs!
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California Tax Credit Allocation Committee

California Tax Credit Allocation Committee

 


The California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (CTCAC) has posted very important Tenant Demographic data on our website on November 23, 2010, noting new requirements for all tax credit properties. Please check out the website at: www.treasurer.ca.gov/ctcac/compliance.asp. You will notice there are revisions to our current Tenant Income Certification (TIC) form along with a new Supplemental Information form for existing households. Please be sure to read all instructions along with a helpful Questions and Answers Handout prior to completing the forms. If you have any questions please contact Elizabeth Gutierrez, Associate Program Analyst or Ammer Singh, Program Manager at 916-654-6340.

 

HUD Tenant Demographic Data Memo with Q & A

 

Tenant Income Certification (TIC) - NEW

 

TIC Supplemental Information Form

 

For more information, visit our website at: www.treasurer.ca.gov/ctcac/compliance
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U.S. Announces $270 Million Bankruptcy Settlement with Chemical Manufacturer

U.S. Announces $270 Million Bankruptcy Settlement with Chemical Manufacturer
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Justice Department and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York today announced that Tronox Incorporated has agreed to resolve its environmental liabilities for $270 million and 88 percent of Tronox’s interest in a pending litigation. The bankruptcy settlement will reimburse EPA for past cleanup costs and fund future cleanups at contaminated sites across the country.
Tronox and 14 of its affiliates filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code on Jan. 12, 2009 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. At the time of the bankruptcy filing, the company was potentially responsible for past costs incurred and future response costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, commonly known as Superfund) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) relating to sites throughout the country, as well as for penalties under CERCLA, RCRA, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act.
Under the terms of the settlement, Tronox will pay $270 million in cash. The majority of the funding will be placed in five environmental response trusts for the cleanup of numerous sites, most of which have been contaminated with hazardous substances or waste. Non-cash assets, such as insurance and financial assurance assets worth at least $50 million, including property located in Henderson, Nev., will also be provided by Tronox to the environmental response trusts.
Tronox, a Delaware corporation based in Oklahoma City, Okla., is a multi-national chemical company that makes and sells titanium dioxide and other specialty chemicals used in plastics, paper and inks. The company has customers located in more than 90 countries and operates in North America, Europe, and Australia. Tronox was created through a spin-off from the Kerr-McGee Corporation. Several months after the spin-off was completed, Anardarko Petroleum Corporation purchased Kerr-McGee for $18 billion.
Tronox is currently involved in litigation against Anadarko and Kerr-McGee over allegations that those companies imposed years worth of legacy liabilities, including environmental obligations on Tronox, leaving Tronox insolvent and undercapitalized. The trial is expected to begin in late 2011 or early 2012. Eighty eight percent of any settlement awarded to Tronox, as a result of that litigation, will be used to fund additional cleanup efforts.
Before being considered by the bankruptcy court for approval, the settlement will be lodged with the bankruptcy court for a period of 30 days to provide public notice and to afford members of the public the opportunity to comment on the settlement.
Information about the settlement: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/cleanup/cercla/tronox/index.html
R384
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Residential Appraising in Declining Real Estate Markets

Solicitation for Subject Matter Experts (SMEs):

Residential Appraising in Declining Real Estate Markets

Background:
The Appraisal Practices Board (APB) of The Appraisal Foundation issues

voluntary guidance on recognized valuation methods and techniques. The APB accomplishes

this by utilizing panels of volunteer Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), which will be comprised of

individuals with expertise in the specific topic being considered.

The SME panel will research and cite all pertinent sources of existing information on the given

topic, which may include multiple recognized methods or techniques (and may also include

some which are not recognized). The SME panel will work in conjunction with an assigned

liaison(s) from the APB in drafting the guidance. After review by the APB, it will

subsequently vet the issue through a public exposure process. Based upon the feedback from

the exposure process, the APB will either return the document to the panel or ultimately adopt

guidance that addresses the specific topic.

The APB is now seeking SME volunteers to assist in the research and development of

voluntary guidance on Residential Appraising in Declining Real Estate Markets.

Scope of Work: The SME panel chosen to address this topic will accomplish its goal by, at a

minimum, gathering, citing and researching all existing literature and publications pertaining

to how to:

Identify the subject and competing marketplaces

Identify definitions of applicable terms (e.g. short sale, foreclosure, etc)

Identify appropriate comparable sales and listings

Properly conduct the adjustment process in the sales comparison approach

The SME panel may also address other aspects related to the scope of work stated above, but

only if they are relevant and critical to the process. Additions to the Scope of Work will have

to be approved by the APB.

Qualifications for SMEs: The APB envisions individuals selected for this SME panel to have

experience in residential appraisal in declining real estate markets from the perspective of one

or more of the following:

 Certified Residential or Certified General Real Estate Appraisers

 Related Trades or Professions

 Users of Appraisal Services

Solicitation for Subject Matter Experts

Residential Appraising in Declining Real Estate Markets

Page 2

 Educators, Writers and Researchers

 Service in a government or government-related agency

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November 22, 2010

Upcoming Seminar: Planning, Zoning & Eminent Domain (Dec. 2-3, 2010)

November 21, 2010

Upcoming Seminar: Planning, Zoning & Eminent Domain (Dec. 2-3, 2010)

Still not have your MCLE hours for 2010? Will you be in or near Plano, Texas on December 2 and 3, 2010? Want to attend a conference at which the top minds in planning, zoning and eminent domain law are speaking?
Well, you're in luck. There's still time to register for Planning, Zoning and Eminent Domain, sponsored by the Center for American and International Law.
It wasn't overstatement when we said that this one has the big names: among those speaking are Dwight Merriam, Gideon Kanner, Robert Freilich, Bruce Kramer, Mike Berger, and Dan Mandelker. And that's only a partial list of the luminaries. Dwight will also be announcing the 2010 ZiPLer Awards. We've been holding our breath on that one, since we nominated a case for one of the prizes.
Unfortunately, we can't make it this year. But we've attended this conference before, and it's one of the best. (We must say that the San Francisco CAIL conference of a few years ago was perhaps the most memorable legal seminar we have ever attended, for reasons those of you who also attended will recall -- we might have to get Dwight a black-and-white striped Referee's shirt if things go down similarly this time.)
More information on the upcoming conference here.

Email thisSubscribe to this feed

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Commercial Appraiser

California Health Facilities Financing Authority


Please click on the link below for the California Health Facilities Financing Authority's December 2, 2010 Meeting Agenda.

CHFFA's Agenda

Commercial Appraiser

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Shopping for data? Commercial Appraisal

November 22, 2010
Shopping for data?

Our guest blogger today is Raphael Bostic, Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research

As consumers flock to the shopping malls this holiday season, have you thought about shopping for...data?

I’m a numbers guy. To me, data can tell a story about what’s happening in the real world and that, in turn, can drive our decisions on a whole host of issues. Obviously, this holiday season finds a lot of folks worried about the economy and the housing market. Never before has there been a greater demand for economic and housing data among state and local leaders, businesses, researchers and even students. But now, this kind of data is only a click away!

Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) unveiled a new website that consolidates a wide variety of economic and housing market data at the regional, state, metropolitan area and county levels. Using information from the Census Bureau, Labor Department, State and Local governments, housing industry sources, as well as HUD’s own field economists, the new website employs interactive maps that allow visitors easy access a variety of reports – from a region-wide look at employment and housing activity to individual county-level figures on population trends, rental activity and vacancy rates.

This is a powerful new tool that’s easy to use and offers the public a remarkable look at their local economic and housing markets. This is precisely why this site will be so helpful to state and local leaders, developers, the real estate industry, and the general public who need the latest available data on their markets.

To view the reports mentioned above for a each region of the country, or for particular states, metropolitan areas or even counties, visit hud.gov/datamap

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November 21, 2010

MA Land Ct Has Jurisdiction To Consider Claim That Landowner Has Title Due To Procedural Errors In Condemnation - http://bit.ly/drx2BO
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CALIFORNIA CODES

CALIFORNIA CODES CIVIL CODE SECTION 1090.5 1090.5. (a) No person with an interest in a real estate

transaction involving an appraisal shall improperly influence or attempt to improperly influence, through coercion, extortion,

or bribery, the development, reporting, result, or review of a real estate appraisal sought in connection with a mortgage loan. Prohibited acts include, but are not limited to, the following: (1) Withholding or threatening to withhold timely payment for an appraisal. (2) Withholding or threatening to withhold future business for an independent appraiser, including removal from approved panels of appraisers. (3) Expressly or impliedly promising future business, promotions, or increased compensation for an independent appraiser. (4) Conditioning the request for an appraisal service or the payment of an appraisal fee or salary or bonus on the opinion, conclusion, or valuation in an appraisal report, or on a preliminary estimate or opinion requested from an independent appraiser. (5) Requesting the payment of compensation to achieve higher priority in the assignment of appraisal business. (6) Requesting that an appraiser provide an estimated, predetermined, or desired valuation in an appraisal report, providing to an appraiser an anticipated, estimated, encouraged, or desired valuation in an appraisal report, or requesting that an appraiser provide estimated values of comparable sales at any time before the appraiser completes an appraisal report. (b) Subdivision (a) does not prohibit a person with an interest in a real estate transaction from asking an appraiser to do any of the following: (1) Consider additional, appropriate property information. (2) Provide further detail, substantiation, or explanation for the appraiser's value conclusion. (3) Correct errors in the appraisal report. (c) If a person who violates this section is licensed or registered under any state licensing or registration law and the violation occurs within the course and scope of the person's duties as a licensee or registrant, the violation shall be deemed a violation of that law. (d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize communications that are otherwise prohibited under existing law.

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November 17, 2010


Your career and industry are at stake. Please get involved today.
Join the Mortgage Action Alliance, Inc.®

Dear Industry Member,

Earlier this month, U.S. voters ushered in a clear sea change that is certain to impact the political and policy making landscapes governing the real estate finance industry. This change, which brought a Republican majority to the U.S. House of Representatives and increased that party's minority share of the Senate, is a direct result of individual activism. Political hopefuls and their supporters engaged in enthusiastic grassroots campaigns across the country to make these changes happen.

With your voice and activism, the real estate finance industry can have the same kind of effect as the new Congress addresses issues that affect the way you do business. You have a role in the lawmaking process and can do something to support your best interests.

The Mortgage Action Alliance, Inc. (MAA) is the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) voluntary, non-partisan, nationwide grassroots lobbying network of real estate finance industry professionals. It is free, simple and you don't have to be an employee of an MBA member firm to participate. There are more than 10,000 mortgage professionals involved in MAA, but we need more.

MAA uses the power of numbers. At key moments it mobilizes its industry volunteers to contact their members of Congress, as well as members of their state legislature, illustrating the potential effects of legislation on their businesses, the community and their customers. And it only takes a few minutes to participate. MAA is the only nationwide real estate finance program that allows industry firms to build and maintain important relationships with legislators.

When the 112th U.S. Congress is sworn in this January and your state and local government begins their 2011 sessions, they will address issues that affect our industry. As Congress turns its attention from the newly passed regulatory reform to secondary markets and the FHA, your state and local government will also consider proposed legislation that could impact the real estate finance industry.

Please join MAA today to become an advocate and start using your voice to make a difference to your industry and to your career.

Join MAA today. 
The Process
Register for MAA: Once you have registered for MAA  and have received your membership log-in and password, you will periodically receive "Call to Action" emails and newsletters.

Receive the MAA Newsletter: Each Monday you will receive an electronic newsletter updating you on the latest legislative and regulatory activities.

Receive "Call to Action" emails: These emails describe legislation that is at a critical point in the legislative process on Capitol Hill and explains the industry's position.

Take Action: All you have to do is follow the link provided in the email to the MAA homepage, log in so that your elected officials are correctly identified and then review the draft letter/email prepared for you by MAA staff. The letter will urge your elected officials to support the industry's position on the issue and identify you as a constituent who works in the real estate finance industry. You can choose to edit or further personalize the letter or send it as written. Click a button to send the letter, and you are done. It is that simple. And, of course, if you disagree with the industry's position, you don't have to send it at all.
Imagine our entire industry taking action on an issue critical to how we do business across the country. In this case, the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

Thank you in advance for your efforts on behalf of our industry during this important time.
Make your voice heard. Make your industry heard.
Join MAA today.
Sincerely,
John A. Courson
President and Chief Executive Officer
Mortgage Bankers Association

and

Marsha L. Williams, Esq.
Chair, Mortgage Action Alliance Steering Committee 
Attorney, Middleberg Riddle & Gianna
Please direct comments or questions to wkooper@mortgagebankers.org. If you have difficulties reading this HTML email, please go to http://events.mortgagebankers.org/email/74557.html
.
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Interactive Map : 2010 Building Permits (up to September '10) http://www.huduser.org/tmaps/BuildingPermits/BP.html
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November 16, 2010

EPA Proposes Guidance for Underground Storage Tanks

CONTACT:
Latisha Petteway
petteway.latisha@epa.gov
202-564-3191
202-564-4355

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 16, 2010

EPA Proposes Guidance for Underground Storage Tanks

WASHINGTON - As part of its commitment to help ensure that biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, are safely stored in underground storage tanks (USTs), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released draft guidance for UST owners and operators who wish to store these fuels.  EPA is requesting comments on the proposed guidance that clarifies how an UST owner or operator can comply with the federal compatibility requirement for UST systems storing gasoline containing greater than 10 percent ethanol, and diesel containing a percent of biodiesel yet to be determined.  After reviewing comments, EPA intends to issue the final guidance in early 2011.

More information on the guidance: 
http://www.epa.gov/oust

R381




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Small Business Access to Capital: Challenges Presented by Commercial Real Estate

Nov 17 2010

Small Business Access to Capital: Challenges Presented by Commercial Real Estate

Russell Senate Office Building
SR-428A
The Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship will hold a hearing Wednesday, November 17th at 10 a.m. in SR-428A entitled “Small Business Access to Capital: Challenges Presented by Commercial Real Estate.”
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Expert Gets OK to Sue Lawyer Over Alteration to Report

Expert Gets OK to Sue Lawyer Over Alteration to Report Premium Access Required
The Legal Intelligencer
A federal judge has ruled that an expert witness has the right to sue the lawyer who hired him and allegedly altered the expert's report -- leading to ethics charges against the expert.
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The Justice Department (DOJ)

The Justice Department (DOJ) has made available online the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. These standards were adopted as part of the revised regulations for Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. When the standards go into effect on March 15, 2012, they will set minimum requirements – both scoping and technical – for new construction and alterations of the facilities of more than 80,000 state and local governments and over seven million businesses.  DOJ has also posted on the website important guidance about the standards compiled from material in the Title II and Title III regulations.  

 

For more information visit this link:  http://www.disability.gov/civil_rights/accessibility_guidelines_%26_standards

 

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November 14, 2010

California eminent domain cases,

11/02/10 In California eminent domain cases, government agencies must take care in formulating the final offer of compensation they make before trial. If the court concludes after trial that the agency’s offer was unreasonable – and that the property/business owner’s final demand was reasonable – the property/business owner is entitled to an award of litigation expenses, including attorneys’ fees. (See Code Civ. Proc. § 1250.410.) How one analyzes "reasonableness" once the jury issues its verdict has been the subject of myriad court opinions. An October 29 decision from the California Court of Appeal, Tracy Joint Unified School Distract v. Pombo, adds to that body of law. Pombo makes clear if the final offer misses the mark, the agency is subject to an award of litigation expenses unless it can show that exceptional circumstances led to the disparity between the final offer and the verdict. Mere good faith belief in the agency’s appraiser’s conclusion will not suffice. Background In Pombo, the school district filed an eminent domain action to acquire 61.6 acres in the middle of a 231-acre parcel of raw land. The agency’s appraiser valued the taking at about $3 million. The property owner’s appraiser valued it at more than $12 million. The discrepancy arose largely from different opinions as to the property’s development potential.
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November 11, 2010

Summary:

 

A county was entitled to a preliminary injunction against a church operating a school without a required conditional user permit.

 

 

View the entire entry:

 

http://blog.aklandlaw.com/2010/11/articles/planning-zoning-development/forgive-me-father-for-i-have-violated-the-zoning-ordinance/index.html

 

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November 09, 2010

Notice of Letters to Assessors

State Board of Equalization

 

 

Notice of Letters to Assessors

 

 

You have subscribed to the State Board of Equalization Notice of Letters to Assessors (LTAs).

 

LTA No. 2010/060 - Pipeline Rights-of-Way - Extension of Sunset Date, dated November 9, 2010, has been posted to our website.
 

 

It can be viewed at:
http://www.boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/pdf/lta10060.pdf                    
   
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Issue Number: RP-2010-44

Issue Number:    RP-2010-44

 

Inside This Issue

 


Revenue Procedure 2010-44 provides two safe harbor methods of accounting for certain motor vehicle dealerships to (1) treat certain sales facilities as retail sales facilities for purposes of § 263A, and (2) be treated as resellers without production activities for purposes of § 263A. 

 

Revenue Procedure 2010-44 will be published in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2010-49 on December 6, 2010. 
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November 08, 2010

.S. EPA Proposes to Disapprove California’s Air Quality Plans for South Coast and San Joaquin Valley

For Immediate Release:  November 8, 2010
Media Contact:
  Nahal Mogharabi, mogharabi.nahal@epa.gov  

 

 

U.S. EPA Proposes to Disapprove California’s Air Quality Plans for South Coast and San Joaquin Valley
Agency Asks CA to Revise PM2.5 Plans to Better Protect Health of Residents

 

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to disapprove California’s air quality plans for fine particles - also known as PM2.5 - for failure to achieve adequate emissions reductions in the South Coast and San Joaquin Valley air basins notoriously known for poor air quality.

 

States are required to submit plans to EPA that identify how health-based air quality standards will be attained in areas not meeting federal air quality standards. The plans submitted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) aim to bring these areas into attainment with the national health based standards for PM2.5. However, EPA cannot approve the plans since they rely heavily on emissions reduction from rules that are being revised and have not been submitted to EPA for review. The state must submit the rules and also show how these rules will achieve the plans’ air quality goals.

 

“California has a history of adopting aggressive rules to tackle some of the worst air quality in the nation, but we need to redouble our efforts,” said Jared Blumenfeld, Regional Administrator for EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. “EPA will continue to work with California to strengthen measures to improve air quality for the millions of residents in the South Coast and San Joaquin Valley.”

 

EPA is proposing to approve portions of the plans, such as the emission reductions from state and local rules that have been submitted to EPA and approved. Some of the locally adopted and EPA-approved rules include residential wood-burning programs for both South Coast and San Joaquin Valley, and South Coast’s rules controlling emissions from various industrial processes.

 

California is a national leader in air pollution controls. The majority of the emission reductions needed to demonstrate attainment of the PM2.5 standards have already been adopted by CARB and the San Joaquin Valley and South Coast and Air Districts.  Given the state’s commitment to public health, EPA expects the state and local agencies will adopt creditable emissions reductions to meet the Clean Air Act requirements for attainment of the PM2.5 standards.

 

PM2.5 is made up of small particles in the air that can penetrate deep into the lungs and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. Reducing the exposure of particulate matter will ultimately decrease emergency room visits, hospital admissions, and premature death. In September 2010, the state reported that more than 9,000 people die prematurely in CA each year due to PM2.5 pollution.

 

EPA intends to make a final decision on the plans in 2011, after reviewing public comments.  In the event the agency finalizes these proposed disapprovals and the state fails to correct the deficiencies in a timely manner, certain sanctions would apply. More stringent facility permitting requirements may be imposed after 18 months and highway funding restrictions may be imposed after 24 months from the date of final disapproval.

 

Transportation projects scheduled for the first four years of the areas’ transportation plans would not be affected, and should be able to continue as planned. Should our proposal be finalized, planning restrictions will be imposed; however, no transportation dollars will be withheld or lost.  New funds must be spent on a more limited set of projects that improve air quality, such as mass transit, until the issues are resolved.

 

For more information the proposed disapproval, please visit http://www.epa.gov/region9/air/actions/ca.html

 

For more information on PM2.5, please visit http://www.epa.gov/pmdesignations/faq.htm

 

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First amendment protected speech.

Summary:

 

Tattoos: First amendment protected speech. A city ordinance effectively banning tattoo parlors oversteps constitutional limits protecting freedom of expression.

 

 

View the entire entry:

 

http://blog.aklandlaw.com/2010/11/articles/planning-zoning-development/got-ink/index.html

 

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Guidelines for Appraiser Certification and Training

State Board of Equalization


Notice of Letters to Assessors


You have subscribed to the State Board of Equalization Notice of Letters to Assessors (LTAs).

LTA No. 2010/061 - Guidelines for Appraiser Certification and Training, dated November 8, 2010, has been posted to our website.
 

It can be viewed at:
http://www.boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/pdf/lta10061.pdf

         
   

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November 02, 2010

California Tax Credit Allocation Committee

 

 

REMINDER FOR ALL 2010 9% FIRST ROUND RESERVATION HOLDERS:

 

Visit our website at: http://www.treasurer.ca.gov/ctcac/2010/firstround/readiness.pdf
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Summary:

 

In preparing an urban water management plan, the agency may rely upon reasonable assumptions, supported by substantial evidence. A reviewing court should apply deference to the agency's decision.

 

 

View the entire entry:

 

http://blog.aklandlaw.com/2010/11/articles/ceqa/court-upholds-agencys-reasonable-assumptions-in-its-urban-water-management-plan/index.html

 

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November 01, 2010

Cal Ct App: Condemnor's Offer Of 40% Of Compensation Ultimately Awarded Is Per Se Unreasonable

Cal Ct App: Condemnor's Offer Of 40% Of Compensation Ultimately Awarded Is Per Se Unreasonable
Posted: 01 Nov 2010 01:13 AM PDT
Professor Gideon Kanner has a recurring feature on his eminent domain law blog
Gideon's Trumpet called "Lowball Watch" in which he points out cases in which the condemnor's offer is below -- way below-- the eventual compensation awarded to a property owner.
Thus, we're looking forward to his thoughts on the latest case from the California Court of Appeal (3d District) which held that for purposes of California's statute awarding attorneys fees to property owners when the condemnor's offer is "unreasonable," an offer which is 38.8% of the eventual compensation fixed by the jury is unreasonable as a matter of law. Tracy Joint Unified School Dist. v. Pombo, No. C061239 (Oct. 29, 2010).
California's eminent domain statutes provide that a property owner is entitled to litigation expenses in defending an eminent domain action if the condemnor's final pretrial offer of compensation is "unreasonable." Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 1250.410. The statute also requires the property owner's pretrial demand be "reasonable." The pretrial offer and demand are viewed by the court "in the light of the evidence admitted and the compensation awarded in the proceeding."
The school district's pretrial offer was $3,181,500 as compensation for land totalling 61.6 acres adjacent to Tracy, California to construct a high school. The property owners pretrial demand was $7,995,000. At trial, the district's expert valued the taking at about $3 million, with no severance damages, while the property owner's appraiser fixed total compensation at around $12.4 million, including almost $3.1 million in severance damages.
The jury, according to the court, "split the difference" by awarding the owners $7,085,150, plus severance damages of $900,000, for a total compensation award of $7,985,150. The court noted '[t]he verdict virtually matched defendants' pretrial settlement demand of $7,995,000, but was a far cry from the District's final offer of $3,181,500." Slip op. at 2.
The trial court denied the property owner's request for litigation expenses, ruling that the district's pretrial offer was reasonable under the circumstances.
The court of appeals didn't just reverse, it remanded the case with instructions to enter an order in favor of the property owner granting the request for litigation expenses. The court concluded the district's pretrial offer was unreasonable as a matter of law based on three factors:
§ The nearly $5 million difference between the district's offer and the jury's verdict. "The difference looms especially large considering that the District offered only a token amount above the appraisal figure of its expert." Slip op. at 8.
§ The district's offer was only 40% of the jury's award. "Viewed from another perspective, the jury's award was more than two and one-half times the size of the District's offer, while bearing a virtual one-to-one ratio to the property owners' demand." Slip op. at 9.
§ The opinion spent the most time on the third factor, the "good faith, care and accuracy" in how the pretrial offer was calculated. The court distinguished other cases which denied litigation expenses, holding that unlike those case, here "[t]here was no tricky legal issue or unusual circumstance that made the offer difficult to formulate. The jury was confronted with a straightforward conflict between two appraisers who advocated vastly different approaches to the appraisal process." Slip op. at 12. 
While the court detailed each party's appraiser's methodology and concluded that "both experts had serious problems with their appraisals and those weaknesses were apparent before the trial began," it concluded it did not need to pick which was more persuasive. The property owner was willing to compromise, and its pretrial demand was below its appraiser's valuation. The district's pretrial offer, by contrast, "barely exceeded" its appraiser's valuation, and it's offer "audaciously assumed" the jury would believe its appriaser over the property owner's. "This type of conduct was not indicative of 'good faith, care and accuracy.' On the contrary, it evinced an arrogant and unyielding approach to settlement negotiations." Slip op. at 16-17. 
The court concluded that a "good faith" settlement offer means something more than a party's bottom line:
A good faith settlement offer carries with it the implicit recognition that proceeding to trial always carries an element of risk. In a case such as this, which came down to a credibility contest between two respected experts, an eight million dollar difference between the two appraisals should have prompted a reasonable condemner to submit an offer that, at a minimum, took into account the cost of litigation as well as the risk that the jury will not accept its own experts testimony as gospel.The District's take-it-or-leave-it offer did neither.
Slip op. at 19 (emphasis original).
The entire opinion is worth reading for anyone interested in condemnation law.
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