California's Contractors State License Board (CSLB) issues licenses to applicants to contract for particular trades or fields -- each such trade or field is a "classification." The classifications are a "Class A" general engineering contractor, "Class B" general building contractor, and "Class C" specialty contractor (which includes an extensive number of
subcategories). A licensed contractor may add any classification for which it is qualified. The law governing the classifications are set forth in California Business & Professions Code §§ 7008 and 7056-7059.
As a quick primer, in California an applicant for a contractor's license must have at least 4 years of experience in the class he/she is applying for to qualify to take the license examination. Credit for experience is given only for experience at a journeyman level or as a foreman, supervising employee, contractor, or owner-builder. An applicant may also receive credit for technical training, apprenticeship training, or education toward the 4 years of required practical experience. At least 1 year must be practical experience.
Monday, The Sacramento Bee announced that city officials and neighborhood activists have come together with what they believe will "reverse the downward spiral of Del Paso Boulevard, the gritty main street of north Sacramento." It was reported that "[l]ocal business owners and developers are in negotiations to purchase some of the 12 properties the city owns" along Del Paso Boulevard. In addition, the Del Paso Boulevard Partnership is "a marketing consultant working for the neighborhood's business association is attempting to brand the area as a 'design district' that appeals to small businesses." These 10 uninterrupted blocks provide a rare development opportunity.
On Tuesday, October 29, arena designer Mark Friedman of AECOM presented the latest concepts for Sacramento's new sports center and entertainment complex to Sacramento's City Council at a public meeting. The latest drawings of Friedman's concepts show that it would involve both indoor and a possible second level outdoor use option. Friedman also proposed that the arena for Sacramento Kings' and other events would be built below ground with the main concourse area to be constructed at street level. The proposed u-shaped structure would not have a "back", which would help to open up the area around K Street, said Sacramento Kings President Chris Granger.
West Sacramento appears to be a growing global food hub. Today, it was announced that Shinmei Co. Ltd. of Kobe, Japan ("Shinmei Co."), is on a fast track to build a $10 million factory to make rice buns in West Sacramento and a 28,000-square-foot building in the Southport Business Park. Sacramento builder Potter Taylor & Co., a locally and family owned business, has been slated to develop the site and build the plant. Construction is expected to commence early next year.
Today's announcement follows closely on the heels of Japan's Nippon Shokken's August 2013 announcement that, after 18 months of construction, it was opening its 70,000 square foot facility to make sauces for the global market. Nippon Shokken and Shinmei Co. will be next door neighbors.
The California State Contractors License Board and California Department of Public Healthwarn that construction and other workers who disturb soil are at risk for contracting Valley Fever, and encourage employers to include protective measures in workplace health and safety plans. The Coccidioides immitis fungus lives in the soil in parts of California, particularly in the Central Valley, and in several southwestern U.S. states, and in Central and South America. Valley Fever is contracted by inhaling fungal spores that live in the dirt and that are stirred up by activity, including but not limited to construction, digging or driving, or working in dusty, wind-blown areas. Typically those who become infected experience pneumonia and flu-like symptoms.
Contractor-related bills recently signed by California's Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and chartered into law include:
Assembly Bill 44Subletting and Subcontracting Fair Practices Act: Bidding Practices: AB 44 amends California's Public Contract Code 4104 to require that prime contractors specify the contractor license numbers of subcontractors who will perform work on bids for public work projects.
Assembly Bill 164 Infrastructure Financing: AB 164 extends California's Little Miller Act by requiring a lease agreement between a governmental agency undertaking an infrastructure project and a private entity to include performance bonds as security to ensure the completion of construction, and payment bonds to secure payment of claims of laborers, mechanics, and materials suppliers employed on the project under contract.
The California State Contractors Licensing Board (CSLB) confirmed in its 2013 Fall CLC Newsletter that there are 10 complaints pending against licensed contractors that PG&E claims did not go through the required permitting process to note the underground location of the existing utility pipelines in the area where work was to be performed and while digging in the area struck a gas pipeline. The CSLB warned that licensed contractors who damage natural gas lines during unauthorized digs can expect closer scrutiny by the CSLB. Although the CSLB has had the legal authority to take action against licensees for negligent pipeline breaks (Bus. & Prof. Code § 7110), there have been only 13 incidents in California brought to the CSLB in the last 2 years. Penalties could range from a warning letter to the licensee to revocation of the license, which would occur in the most serious cases.
On October 11, 2013, the California Contractors State License Board ("CSLB"), in its news release entitled Sex Offenders, Convicted Felons Snagged in Contractors State License Board Statewide Sting, announced that 75 people may face criminal charges after being caught in 6 of the CSLB's simultaneous, statewide undercover sting operations conducted this week as part of its fall California Blitz.
The CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) investigators, along with partners from a variety of state and local law enforcement agencies, conducted stings on October 9 and 10, 2013, in Clovis (Fresno County), Ontario (San Bernardino County), Roseville (Placer County), and Seaside (Monterey County). 1-day stings were conducted October 9, 2013, in South Lake Tahoe (El Dorado County) and October 10, 2013, in the area burned in the recent Silver Fire near Banning (Riverside County).
SWIFT investigators posed as homeowners seeking bids for home improvements. CSLB Registrar Steve Sands said that "Homeowners should be nervous when they hear the background of some of the people we caught in these stings."
In addition to introducing their new celebrity part-owner, Shaquille O'Neal, the Sacramento Kings confirmed their concept for an "indoor-outdoor" facility for the new arena that will be constructed in Sacramento's current Downtown Plaza.
At a recent press conference, majority owner Vivek Ranadive suggested that the design for the $448 million arena "will be the first basketball arena that has this indoor-outdoor feature to it. For concerts and other events, you could actually completely open it up and have 18,000 people inside and another 10,000 people outside." He gave few other details, saying, "You'll have to wait and see the plans." Minority partner Mark Mastrov told The Sacramento Bee that attendees would be able to view events directly and on giant TV screens the arena's bowl standing in an outdoor plaza. The designs have not been finalized and community input will be sought.
There are numerous contractor-related bills making their way through the California legislature this year. The following bills, although not an all-inclusive list, are worth noting:
Assembly Bill 44 - An Act to amend, repeal, and add Public Contract Code § 4104 relating to public contracts - signed into law by the Governor September 9, 2013 and operative July 1, 2014. The Subletting and Subcontracting Fair Practices Act, Cal. Public Contracting Code §§ 4100, et seq., requires an entity taking bids for the construction of any public work or improvement to specify that any person making a bid or offer to perform the work to, in his or her bid or offer, include specified information, including the name and location of the place of business of each subcontractor who will perform work or labor or render service to the prime contractor in or about the work or improvement. Commencing on July 1, 2014, any person making a bid or offer to perform the work to, in his or her bid or offer, will be required to include the California contractor license number of each subcontractor.
Since the California Mechanic's Lien Law was established more than 100 years ago, it has been black-letter law that a contractor or materials supplier has no right to assert a mechanic's lien against public property. Thus, contractors and material suppliers (and even legal practitioners) have resigned themselves to the notion that the only available remedies on "public projects" are claims against payment bonds and the enforcement of stop notices. Within the last few years, however, the inflexible rule that "you cannot lien public property" has begun to change. In connection with the rise of construction projects arising from public-private collaboration, courts have begun to allow claimants to assert liens against private interests in publicly-owned property.
In the 2010 South Bay Expressway case, a bankruptcy court considered whether a general contractor that built a publicly-owned toll road could pursue a mechanic's lien against a private developer's leasehold interest in that public road. The California Department of Transportation had entered into a long-term lease with the developer, whereby the developer would construct the toll road and thereafter collect tolls and operate the public road. The court held that, as long as the lien claimant sought only to encumber and foreclose upon the developer's leasehold interest, the lien was valid.
This recent legal development offers new hope to contractors that are not paid on "public projects." In the wake of the South Bay Expressway decision, claimants are successfully recording and foreclosing upon mechanic's liens on a variety of projects built on public land. For example, we've seen liens successfully asserted against, among other interests, a concessionaire's leasehold interest in concession space at a public airport and a solar company's long-term rights to operate a solar facility and sell electrical power to a municipality. In many such cases, absent the ability to enforce their lien rights, the contractors would have had no ability to enforce their rights to payment.
The bottom-line is this: a contractor should no longer assume that it has no lien rights simply because its work was completed on public property.
On July 30, it was announced that the Sacramento Kings ownership group has hired Turner Construction Company to build the planned arena at Downtown Plaza. Turner Construction Company has a number of stadium projects on its resume.
The Sacramento Kings ownership group are also reportedly in the process of interviewing architectural firms to help design the new arena.