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As new cases of COVID-19 declines, each County in the San Francisco Bay Area is reopening gradually in accordance with the California’s colored tier system. The patchwork of local rules and orders is difficult to follow. Our Bay Area Reopening Tracker is here to help. We have included each of the nine Bay Area counties, and their respective current tier, Health Order (and additional relevant orders), and our short comments regarding their status. Please check back in with us—we plan to update the Bay Area Reopening Tracker weekly for the foreseeable future.

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The Real Estate and Construction industry may be huge, but ultimately, as with all industries, it comes down to the people who help make it all come together. From time to time, we like to profile some of those people.

R-Poblete-300x171Ryley Poblete is a Senior Designer with global design and architecture firm Gensler, having spent the better part of the last decade working in the company’s Sciences Practice developing a portfolio of work centered around life sciences. An avid runner, urbanist, photographer, artist and policy enthusiast, Ryley can be found, in his spare time, “reading the newest Economist or digging into a project’s context to really define a new piece of architecture in the cities” in which he works. Asked how he’d describe his job to a layperson, Ryley adds, “I work with developers and biotech clients in planning and structuring developments to best suit their situation.”

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In the Spring 2021 issue of AFIRE Summit Journal, Pillsbury New York-based Real Estate partner Andrew Weiner discusses the Corporate Transparency Act and disclosure requirements for non-U.S. based investors. Summit Journal is the official publication of AFIRE, the national association for international real estate investors focused on commercial property in the U.S.

Read Andy’s full take here.

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Picture of Hydrogen fuel cell (glass-encased with power cord connected)Hydrogen is the new buzzword in every industry, and real estate is no exception. Hydrogen does not emit carbon dioxide when burnt and could therefore help reduce the climate impact of buildings, which in aggregate represent one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases after industry and surface transport. To the extent that hydrogen is to become an important power source globally, it will need to enter the domestic power market. The first step appears to be the development of pilot villages.

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smart technology icons overlaid on small house model and hands of people talkingOutfitting a commercial real estate space with smart technology can be a significant cost. While the long-term benefits and strategic improvements we’ve discussed previously can make that investment worthwhile, the evaluation period is critical to ensure an impactful ROI. Property developers, owners, and managers should undertake a rigorous evaluation process to ensure the technology procurement aligns with the project’s overall financial plan. And this is not just about getting the cost right. If the technology does not meet the needs of the space, then all the smart technology in the world will not prevent the project from being a sunk cost.

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Colleague Noa Clark recently joined other industry experts for a discussion of San Francisco office real estate at the panel, The Future of Office in San Francisco: How Will the Office Market Recover? Topics included how office spaces are evolving to accommodate for changing workforce needs, tenant perspective on short-term and long-term leasing, effective changes to leasing strategy and major changes to design, construction and development to keep offices safe. Click here to view the recording.

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One year into the pandemic, courts have almost uniformly found that COVID-19 does not permit commercial tenants to avoid their rent payment obligations. In this case, the court continued that trend, ruling that the pandemic was not a “casualty” that permits a tenant to abate its rent payments or cancel its lease. Authors Patrick J. PotterChristian A. BuergerHugh M. McDonaldPatrick E. Fitzmaurice, and Jonathan Doolittle discuss a new case from the Southern District of New York that extends the trend of courts enforcing leases against tenants forced to close due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in “Court Finds Pandemic Does Not Satisfy Lease’s Casualty Clause.”

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 and  on Tesoro Logistics Northwest Pipeline LLC v. Department of Revenue, the Oregon Tax Court, Regular Division, held that although a unit of property acquired by one centrally assessed company from another qualified as “new property” for purposes of Or. Const. Art. XI, § 11 (“Measure 50”), the unit of property’s existing maximum assessed value (“MAV”) was preserved in the hands of the new owner.  Tesoro Logistics Nw. Pipeline LLC v. Dep’t of Revenue, No. TC 5252, 2021 WL 6700471 (Or. Tax Ct., Reg. Div., Feb. 19, 2021).  As a result, the Oregon Department of Revenue was not entitled to redetermine the MAV on account of the acquisition. Continue reading on the SeeSALT blog.

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This is a brief report on new environmental law decisions, regulations and legislation.

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT

Massachusetts Lobsterman’s Association v. Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce
On March 22, 2021, the Supreme Court rejected a petition to review a Presidential decision to invoke the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate as a monument “an area of submerged land about the size of Connecticut” in the Atlantic Ocean. This action forbids all sorts of economic activity, which compelled the filing of litigation in the First Circuit challenging this designation. Chief Justice Roberts supported the Court’s denial of certiorari, but remarked that a stronger legal case may persuade the Court to review such liberal uses of the Antiquities Act.

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The federal courts have issued some significant environmental law rulings in the past few days.

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service v. Sierra Club, Inc.
On March 4, 2021, the court held that the deliberative process privilege of the Freedom of Information Act shields from disclosure in-house draft governmental biological opinions that are both “predecisional” and deliberative. According to the court, these opinions, opining on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) effects on aquatic species of a proposed federal rule affecting cooling water intake structures—which was promulgated in 2019—are exempt from disclosure because they do not reflect a “final” agency opinion. Indeed, these ESA-required opinions reflect a preliminary view, and the Services did not treat them as being the final or last word on the project’s desirability. The Sierra Club, invoking the FOIA, sought many records generated by the rulemaking proceeding, and received thousands of pages. However, the Service declined to release the draft biological opinions that were created in connection with the ESA consultative process.

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