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RE: Paso Robles Earthquake

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Roger,
See my comments below:

-----Original Message-----
From: Roger Turk [mailto:73527.1356(--nospam--at)compuserve.com] 
Sent: Thursday, December 25, 2003 8:28 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Re: Paso Robles Earthquake

Pardon my naivete, but I thought that building departments were
obligated to 
protect the public, not building owners.  I am unaware of any building
owner 
that will not claim undue hardship when any proposed law is passed
requiring 
improvements to their buildings.  (They also routinely protest property 
taxes, having retained a professional protester who will file protests
each 
year automatically.)

--------------------------------
<Dennis> Building departments are obliged to comply with the code or
adopt a code that is of equal or more restrictive compliance. When
dealing with existing buildings concessions are made to resist seismic
forces intending only to reduce the risk of life or injury to those who
occupy an existing building. Enforcing a code or ordinance is a
different story. I've attended a number of appeal hearings for owners of
building who have not complied. The first thing I did before attending
the hearings was to interview the building owner to see if he/she really
had a valid claim of hardship. 
The code doesn't attempt to weed out the fraudulent ones who try to
skirt around compliance and this is the job of the appeals hearing
board.
The City of Los Angeles had the same "judges" (if you want to call a
building department representative as a judge), the City of La Quinta
Appeals board (which I am a member) includes the Building Official,
Appeals members who are impartial professionals and the City's legal
team. 
The purpose of the hearing board is to determine if the hardship claim
is valid. Nobody is infallible, but it becomes pretty clear after
discussing alternative plans who is being evasive and who is being
honest.
----------------------------------------------------

I was unaware of how much return a commercial property owner gets on
their 
investment until the building in which I have my office was sold about 5

years ago.  The new owner likes to brag that she buys property for cash
and 
paid $243,000 cash for the 6-unit, 7,500 sf strip office/retail center.
At 
that time, each unit was renting for about $700 a month, for an income
of 
about $50,000 a year to the owner.  (And, each year since, rent has 
increased.)  This is more than a *20 percent per year* return on her 
investment, an extraordinary return for any investment.  Common area
utility 
costs are prorated to the tenants as well as property tax increases.
Common 
area maintenance is kept to a minimum, i.e., she spends as little money
as 
possible on the property.  This property is one of about a dozen that
she 
owns in Tucson.

A. Roger Turk, P.E.(Structural)
Tucson, Arizona
------------------------------------------------------------
<Dennis> Isn't Capitalism wonderful (no flaming please).  The lady was
pretty sharp to buy the building and you have to give her credit for
this - after all, there was a seller willing to tie up the deal with
her. She must have anticipated the trend for that area or you and the
other tenants might have searched for a new office.
Still, it doesn't relieve the owner of responsibility to retrofit a
building as long as she can get the tenants after amortizing the cost of
the retrofit over a number of years of the loan. It would be difficult
for her to obtain a hardship extension as she is getting the additional
profits each year. 

In most cases where I came before a panel was to help owners who had
good intentions to retrofit but had ignored the cities time tables. I
had to go in after a contract was signed to explain that I would be the
Engineer of Record, but that the timing was contingent upon my current
schedule and I offered the city a plan for when I would be able to
submit.

Personally, I wish I had the hard streak that people like the lady who
bought the building you are in to make my fortune. I guess I don't have
it in me to displace good people that need affordable work places if I
can do very well on the profits produced by what I would buy the
building. 

Dennis



Steven A. wrote:

. > True.
. > My earlier comments did not have these interests in mind.

. > Dennis Wish wrote:

. > > Steven,

. > > It is really a question of accessibility to financing to get the
work
. > > done. The cost can be amortized and charged to the tenants, but
this
. > > may result in the loss of occupants and the inability to restore
use
. > > of the building if the leasable space is too high for the area.
I'm
. > > not specifically speaking of Paso Robles, but of other areas where
. > > Cities own some of the buildings and are attempting to establish
. > > either Entitlement Zones (where the State of California provides
tax
. > > breaks and money for new business to lease these buildings) or an
. > > Empowerment Zone (where the Federal Government offers the tax
. > > advantages in leasable space and in salary compensation).

. > > Until either the State or the Feds can insure use of the building
and
. > > a growing economy in areas that are hard hit or low income, then
the
. > > State can not demand implementation of a retrofit ordinance or
demand
. > > that the work be done _ it becomes a hardship.

. > > Dennis

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