INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH WATER PURIFICATION IN SANTA MONICA AS CITY HALL TAKES CONTROL OF CONTAMINATION FUNDSAugust 10, 2012 on 5:01 pm | In Fascinating Information, Green, Legal, Problem Solving, Property Maintenance, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Santa Monica has found a way to monetize on groundwater contamination. The City has won another lawsuit in the efforts to keep its water supply clean, and is now able to build a second state-of-the-art water treatment facility. Recently, the City reached a $39.5 million settlement with the Boeing Corporation. City Hall will be responsible for treating the water it pumps from the Olympic Well Field, cleaning contaminants left behind by the former Douglas Aircraft Company.
Santa Monica is also very protective of its water > half of is from local wells. Didja know, there’s a story about how Santa Monica got its name is because of a freshwater spring. The legend dates back to 1769 and the travelling party of explorer Gaspar de Portolà. One of the party padres wrote in his diary that the group found the drip of a Tonga Indian Gabrioleno spring. They called it “Spring of Saint Monica” to recall the tears that St. Monica had for her reckless son, Augustine.
According to Assistant City Attorney Joseph Lawrence, the monies will be paid out over the course of the next 10 years. Locations include 2902 Exposition Blvd., 1909 Centinela Ave. and 2341 to 2425 Michigan Ave. Additionally, Boeing will have to do any other clean up required by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board at various sites. Boeing will not admit liability or responsibility for any claims of contamination, according to the settlement.
The City of Santa Monica is not unaccustomed to going to court to clean the water supply. The Charnock Well Field, owned by the City of Santa Monica, has been used for drinking water production and treatment since 1924
Litigation followed. Santa Monica won. In December 2006, a comprehensive settlement agreement was reached, providing funding for the Charnock Well Field Restoration Project. As you would expect, the City of Santa Monica has designed a state-of-the art water treatment facility; it uses granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration to remove contaminants from the wells. Above and beyond, improvements have been made to the disinfection and softening process at the water treatment facility, including installation of a reverse osmosis system, pressure filtration vessels, a backwash system, new electrical services and emergency generators, and a new sewer line to serve the facility.. In 2011, the spring will be pumping fresh water to Santa Monica for the first time in 15 years, meeting half the City’s water needs..
The chain of title for the Olympic Well Field contamination can be traced back to the Douglas Aircraft Co., a major player in the aircraft industry during World War II. Local historians note that World War II affected Santa Monica more than most places, as the Federal Government (for national security reasons) leased the Airport from the City to provide protection for Douglas Aircraft – then a major defense contractor located in Sunset Park. The government also participated in the expansion of the facility to accommodate the ever-growing production of military aircraft by Douglas Aircraft. At its peak, Douglas Aircraft, and Santa Monica Airport grew in size to its present 227 acres, employing 40,000 individuals.
Douglas Aircraft Co., used industrial solvents called PCE and TCE for degreasing, chemicals which were later discovered in the Olympic basin, said Gil Borboa, the water resources manager with City Hall.
“That was back in the time where chemical handling processes were not as careful as they are today,” Borboa notes.
City Hall’s aim is to construct a water treatment facility that would not only take the solvents out of the water, but contaminants that might cause problems in the future…such as identified another solvent called 1,4-dioxane that is currently within acceptable levels, but may not be in the future.
This settlement is closely modeled after a 2010 settlement with the Gillette Corporation, the company that paid out for contamination of the Olympic Well Field caused by industrial processes at the former Papermate site. That deal involved similar chemicals and helped create the framework for the Boeing deal.
It’s a first for the U.S. > a national green building code. It will make construction and maintenance more efficient. In development for more than two years, the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) applies to all new and renovated commercial buildings and residential buildings over three stories high.
“It represents a change in the standard of construction,” says Jessyca Henderson Director of Sustainability Advocacy at the American Institute of Architects. “It will affect everyone that touches buildings…it will be a big leap.”
To develop the code, the International Code Council collaborated with the American Institute of Architects, US Green Building Council, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), among other appropriate agencies.
The new code creates a mandatory “floor” – enforceable minimum standards on every aspect of building design and construction that now must be reached. These new minimum standards apply to all aspects of building design and construction, including energy and water efficiency, site impacts, building waste, and materials.
Here are some of the new rules of property development as set forth by the new ICC green building code:
Site Development, Land Use: In a big move toward environmental preservation, development on Greenfields (undeveloped land) is no longer acceptable, although there are exceptions based on existing infrastructure. There are new guidelines for site disturbance, irrigation, erosion control, transportation, heat island mitigation, graywater systems, habitat protection, and site restoration…so you too can help save the Round-tailed Ground Squirrel.
Materials: As with California codes, the ICC code requires a minimum of 50% of construction waste must be diverted from landfills, and at least 55% of building materials must be salvaged, recycled-content, recyclable, biobased, or indigenous. Buildings must be designed for at least 60 years of life, and must have a service plan that justifies that. If 600 years ago they built properties that have lasted 600 years, using modern technology for new construction to last 1/10th that time should be easy.
Energy Efficiency: total efficiency must be “51% of the energy allowable in the 2000 International Energy Conservation Code” (IECC), and building envelope performance must exceed that by 10%. It sets minimum standards for lighting and mechanical systems, and requires certain levels of submetering and demand-response automation.
Water Efficiency: The ICC code establishes maximum consumption of fixtures and appliances and sets standards for rainwater storage and graywater systems.
Indoor Air Quality: As you would expect, the new code addresses radon, asbestos, VOCs, sound transmission, and daylight.
Here’s a cute perk…every project is also required to choose an additional “elective,” which pushes the envelope for the developer further. There’s a sexy menu of elective choices, like whole-building life-cycle assessment to more stringent recycled-content.
Local governments and states have the choice of adopting the code – many California cities like West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Berkeley have already implemented their own codes. But, once a city chooses the ICC codes – which require no additional budget – it’s enforceable…but does allow for flexibility within the rules depending upon location and size of building. Also, it’s customizable. Municipalities can add their own requirements on top of the code that address local concerns such as stormwater management or lighting pollution control.
No information was shared on how these new rules will affect cost…we await that information with bated checkbooks. Expect the final code to reach the public late in 1Q 2012.
by Jodi Summers
Last week, we shared with you the exhilaration of finding an underground storage tank on a property. Now we
share with you the logistics involved in pulling the tank.
Sent: Friday 17th, 2011 1:32 PM
Subject: Re: Inglewood tank removal
UST removal is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, the 28th and 29th, from 7 AM to 5 PM. Please have the tenant clear a 30-ft radius around the tank opening and a 20-ft access way from the gate at the street to the tank opening. Field work may be extended due to unforeseen circumstances and/or change orders. Please call if you have any questions. Thank you.
Sent: Monday, 20th, 2011 10:56 PM
Subject: Re: Inglewood tank removal
This PM, Donnie, our field rep, told us of a bee and hornet/wasp infestation problem at the block wall near the former diesel tank at the subject site. As we understand, these insects become agitated and aggressive when subjected to intense noise and vibration, which will be the case when we perform our UST removal operations. In fact, the tenants warned Donnie about the problem and told him that both one of their drivers and a mechanic were stung several times during a recent incident. For the sake of safety, Environmental urgently requests that the owner be notified and that an exterminator be hired immediately to eliminate the insects and to provide HVN with a safe working environment next week.
Please call us to discuss and/or confiirm Thank you.
Sent: Tuesday, 21st, 2011 4:40 PM
Thank you for advancing HVN’s request to have the seller exterminate the various bee hives and hornet/wasps nests at the subject site. The seller engaged an exterminator this AM and all hives/nests were sealed by noon. The tenant was advised that if any insects remain after 3 days, the exterminator would return and “finish them off”. Now your environmental company is looking into providing gravel to provide cover material for the tank excavation and the floor settlement area in the rear of the lot.
Sent: Wednesday, 23rd, 2011 9:55 AM
Now that we have the bee/wasp problem resolved, the seller is currently considering the parking problem regarding HVN’s equipment during the period of tank removal, Tuesday to on/or about Thursday. We have a proposal from West Coast Sand & Gravel to be used to cover the area where the concrete slab has broken and created an unsafe condition at the rear of the property. We suggested, and the seller agreed, that we can solve the parking problem by spreading the 3/4″ crushed rock over that area, thereby creating six additional parking spaces for the tenant. Please make a selection so that we can order the gravel and have it delivered either Monday or Tuesday.
If you have any questions, please call.
Sent: Wednesday, 23, 2011 5:04 PM
Subject: UST REMOVAL INGLEWOOD, CA
This email is to confirm that, pending seller approval, HVN will bring in 26 tons of 3/4 in. rock on Tuesday, remove the concrete in the sink hole and fill and compact the rock to eliminate the sink hole. In this way, you will have about 6 extra spaces for parking the big trailers. Since we will be doing this extra work on Tuesday, HVN requests that you open the gate at 7 AM on Wednesday, the 29th so that the pumper truck can come in early and remove the water and diesel contents of the tank.
At about 9:30 AM, the Fire Dept. inspector will be on-site to witness the removal of the tank, placement in the dump truck, after which it will be delivered to a metal recycling facility.
At about 10:30 AM, the L. A. County Inspector will be on-site to witness the soil sampling activities, after which the sample will be delivered to the lab. Once the inspectors leave the site, the backfilling of the excavation will begin. By the end of the day, all vehicles will depart the site.
The L. A. County Environmental Programs Engineer will determine if any additional work needs to be done, depending on the soil sampling test results.
Subject: UST REMOVAL INGLEWOOD, CA
The tank is lying on its side, looking like a vanquished villain from a Sci-Fi thriller. Humans are poking at the strange object > taking tests, making measurements.
They turn to face the patient onlookers. The authority looks pleased. “It looks good,” announces our waste control engineering inspector with the L.A. County Dept. of Public Works. He smiles. We heave a sigh of relief. This real estate transaction will close with only a minor hiccup.
Three weeks later, we officially got the good news:
Sent: /21/2011 8:43:52 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: LA County No Further Action
We just wanted to inform you that your underground storage tank case has been finalized. The “no further action” letter is attached to this email. We will put the hard copy in the mail today.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Works
Environmental Programs Division|Underground Storage Tanks
The transaction closed. All parties were satisfied with how a potentially difficult situation transpired. Everyone lived happily ever after.
By Jodi Summers
“It looks good,” smiled our waste control engineering inspector with the L.A. County Dept. of Public Works.
Such kind words coming from the county specialist overseeing the removal of an underground storage tank during a recent escrow on an LAX-area industrial property. Buyer and seller would be pleased that we would be able to complete this real estate transaction without issue.
This underground tank came to light when a tenant occupying one warehouse submitted their estoppels certificates. Here we are, happily cruising through this escrow. We’re all pleased that they reviewed + revised their lessor-completed estoppel in a timely fashion, and low and behold, under AIR Standard Estoppel Certificate point 16., Additional Items. The tenant writes, “We have nothing to do with the underground fuel tank, it was here before we moved here…”
Words like that will definitely put a damper on your escrow. So…we put a hold on the Phase I Report and started contacting underground storage tank removal specialists.
True words, those. After speaking with several tank removal companies and getting a variety of quotes to eliminate the tank, and the liquid inside of it the seller chose a very competent removal company HVN Environmental.
They were quite efficient in their handholding, going so far as to meet with the seller’s team at the county office white we registered the tank and removal with the water board and purchase removal permits, and scheduled our removal with the appropriate agencies so the appropriate necessary overseers would attend our tank’s coming out party.
So many logistical emails, so well handled by everyone involved …here’s a video renactment to give you the general idea. The dialogue follows next week…
By Jodi Summers
Before the recession, then-Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger, signed Executive Order S-21-09, directing the California Air Resources Board to adopt regulations increasing California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 33% by 2020. Current Gov. Jerry Brown recently made it law – requiring California get 33% of its electricity from renewable sources, such as wind and solar energy, in the next 8.5 years.
The California law increases the previous mandate – AB 32, California’s landmark 2006 global warming initiative which called for investor-owned utilities such as Edison to produce 20% of their power from wind, solar and geothermal energy by 2010.
Bet you’re wondering if we reached the lofty goals set by AB 32. Bureaucracy has stepped in and taken AB 32 to court. Apparently, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) failed to properly evaluate alternatives to the so-called cap-and-trade program, which would allow industries to purchase pollution allowances rather than cut their own carbon emissions.
A San Francisco Superior Court Judge disapproved of ARB’s casual take on the carbon fee or tax, devoting a “scant two paragraphs to this important alternative” in its December 2008 plan. Additionally, ARB neglected to consider public comments on its broad greenhouse gas plan before its adoption.
The cap-and-trade program, which involves 600 of the state’s biggest industrial facilities, is the first-in-the-nation effort to curb heat-trapping pollution that is allegedly altering the Earth’s climate.
Other elements of the climate plan, which sought to slice the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, have gotten stalled as well. Measures to control the tailpipe emissions of cars and trucks, cutting the level of carbon in gasoline and controlling potent gases such as refrigerants, have also been waylaid in court.
Obviously, these delays affect the January 2012 roll-out. So 33% by 2020 – is it just another political lead zeppelin?
“I didn’t get my name ‘Governor Moonbeam’ for nothing,” Gov. Brown joked.
Those in the energy business, like solar Chief Executive Thomas Werner, see additional benefits. He believes the measure “gives us long-term market visibility. The legislation will make it easier for renewable-energy companies to attract investors for green energy firms.”
Calling the law the most ambitious clean-energy effort in the nation, the Governor is hoping that the measure will help inspire California’s economy, and get unemployment to drop into the single digits – instead of hovering around 12%. Gov. Brown’s vision is for an aggressive shift away from coal and natural gas -> that will create jobs while putting the state on the cutting edge of new technology.
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu calls the law “a model for other states.”
Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), author of the legislation, observed that the 33% benchmark would reduce air pollution and U.S. dependence on unstable foreign sources of oil, while creating more than 100,000 jobs. (The numbers come from the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, a trade group representing renewable energy companies.)
Sen. Simitian noted that his bill allows the Public Utilities Commission to put a cap on what power companies would have to spend to meet the new standard. And it permits an extension of the 2020 deadline if renewable energy is not sufficiently available.
The nice thing for all is that the forward thinking of our governors will keep our power utilities reasonable….hopefully forever.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A TENANT ABANDONS AN INDUSTRIAL SPACE?
Edited by Jodi Summers
Hey landlords, have you ever had this happen to you –
You decide to visit a tenant whose rent is past due, and while passing by the front window of the property, you notice that the space appears to be vacant.
Do you know what to do? Can you, as the owner, just assume that the tenant abandoned the property, change the locks, and lease out the property to the next person?
Yeah right, if only it should be so simple. Being a landlord is just not that easy.
According to the California Association of Realtors legal department:
California law provides a procedure that the owner or the property manager of the rental real property must follow before assuming that the rented property has been vacated. The focus of this legal article is on this procedure for regaining possession of abandoned real property. A copy of the notice that the owner must send to the tenant is included. However, this article does not address the issue of recovery of damages by the owner.
Q 1: If a landlord believes the rental property has been abandoned, what is the notice that the landlord must provide to the tenant?
A: The Notice of Belief of Abandonment (“Notice”) goes as follows:
Notice of Belief of Abandonment
(Name of lessee/tenant)
(Address of lessee/tenant)
This notice is given pursuant to Section 1951.3 of the Civil Code concerning the real property leased by you at ____________________ (state location of the property by address or other sufficient description). The rent on this property has been due and unpaid for 14 consecutive days and the lessor/landlord believes that you have abandoned the property.
The real property will be deemed abandoned within the meaning of Section 1951.2 of the Civil Code and your lease will terminate on ____________________ (here insert a date not less than 15 days after this notice is served personally or, if mailed, not less than 18 days after this notice is deposited in the mail) unless before such date the undersigned receives at the address indicated below a written notice from you stating
Both of the following:
(1) Your intent not to abandon the real property.
(2) An address at which you may be served by certified mail in any action for unlawful detainer of the real property.
You are required to pay the rent due and unpaid on this real property as required by the lease, and your failure to do so can lead to a court proceeding against you.
(Signature of lessor/landlord)
(Type or print name of lessor/landlord)
(Address to which lessee/tenant is to send notice)
(Cal. Civ. Code § 1951.3(d).)
Q 2: Under what circumstances may a landlord give the tenant the Notice in Question 1?
A: The landlord may give the Notice only if two conditions have been met: (1) the rent on the property has been due and unpaid for at least 14 consecutive days and (2) the landlord reasonably believes that the tenant has abandoned the property (Cal. Civ. Code § 1951.3(b)).
Q 3: What if the landlord doesn’t want to wait the 14-day requirement mentioned in Question 2?
A: If a landlord wishes faster action, the landlord may use the unlawful detainer remedy. See California Code of Civil Procedure Sections 1161-1179a. See also, the C.A.R. legal article, Unlawful Detainer: The Eviction Process in California < http://www.car.org/index.php?id=MTg4Ng >
Q 4: What if the landlord believes the property to have been abandoned and there’s been a breach of another covenant under the lease but the rent has been paid?
A: The landlord must use the unlawful detainer remedy if the landlord wants to get the tenant out of the property. See California Code of Civil Procedure Sections 1161- 1179a. See also, the C.A.R. legal article, Unlawful Detainer: The Eviction Process in California.
Q 5: What is a “reasonable” belief of abandonment?
A: Many residential as well as commercial tenants vacate the premises when behind in the rent without ever notifying the landlord. What some courts look for is whether or not the keys have been turned over to the owner. If turning over the keys establishes for the landlord a clear showing of abandonment, then the landlord may be able to take possession of the premises without providing the Notice as required by section 1951.3. Following the procedure of section 1951.3 provides greater certainty to the owner and provides protection against a tenant who later sues the landlord for legal possession of the rental property.
However, if the tenant has not made it clear—has not given over the keys—then the landlord is left guessing about the tenant’s abandonment. One way to get some idea of the tenant’s intention is to view the premises by looking through a window to see if there is anything left behind. For example, if the utilities have been discontinued, there is no refrigerator and no furnishings, abandonment seem clear.
What if some personal possessions have been left behind?
“Since many lessees who abandon real property leave personal property on the premises, the mere fact that the lessor knows that the lessee has done so should not, by itself, be held to establish that the lessor’s belief as to abandonment was unreasonable. Where the personal property left by the lessee appears to be of little value, it would be reasonable for the lessor to conclude in the absence of other evidence that the personal property, as well as the real property, had been abandoned. On the other hand, where the personal property is of substantial value and it appears that the lessee is the owner, these facts would be significant evidence that the lessee had not abandoned the real property.” (11 Cal.L.Rev.Comm. Reports 951 (1973); 12 Cal.L.Rev.Comm. Reports 571 (1974); (Cal. Civ. Code § 1951.3(e)(2).)
Note: if personal property has been abandoned too, there is another procedure to be followed. See the C.A.R. legal article, Abandoned Personal Property: Disposition of Items Left Behind After Termination of a Tenancy.
Q 6: What If the property is under a lease that doesn’t terminate for several months, what should be written on the Notice regarding the date of lease termination?
A: Assuming the landlord wishes to terminate the lease and rent it to another tenant, the date of termination of the lease specified in the Notice should be at least 15 days after the Notice is served personally or, if mailed, at least 18 days after the Notice is deposited in the mail (Cal. Civ. Code § 1951.3(b)).
Q 7: How should a landlord or property manager give this Notice to a tenant if the tenant has disappeared?
A: The landlord’s Notice can be personally delivered to the tenant (if possible) or, in the alternative, it can be sent by first-class mail, postage prepaid, to the tenant at his or her last known address (which may be the rental property address). If there is a reason to believe that the Notice sent to that address will not be received by the tenant (or will not be forwarded to a subsequent address), the landlord may also send he Notice to another address, if any, known to the landlord where the tenant may reasonably be expected to receive the Notice (e.g., a place of employment). (Cal. Civ. Code § 1951.3(c).)
Q 8: Can a landlord still assume that the tenant has abandoned the property if the landlord accepts all or partial payment of the rent due before or after giving the Notice?
A: No. If during the period of time beginning 14 days before the time the Notice was given and ending on the date the lease would have terminated in the Notice, the tenant pays all or a portion of the rent due on the real property, then the landlord cannot assume the property has been abandoned. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1951.3(e)(4).)
Q 9: What must a tenant do to prove that he or she has not abandoned the property?
A: Assuming the tenant doesn’t receive the Notice and wants to regain possession of the property, the tenant must establish that he or she hasn’t abandoned the property by proving (1) that rent was not due and unpaid for 14 consecutive days when Notice was given, (2) that it was not reasonable for the landlord to believe that he or she had abandoned the property, (3) that, within the permitted time, he or she gave written notice of his or her intent not to abandon the property, or (4) that, during the period specified in section 1951.3 (e) (4), the tenant paid all or any portion of the rent that was due. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1951.3.)
The burden of proof on these matters is placed on the tenant so that the landlord will be able to proceed to relet the property with reasonable assurance that the abandonment and termination will not later be set aside by a court. (11 Cal.L.Rev.Comm. Reports 951 (1973); 12 Cal.L.Rev.Comm. Reports 571 (1974).)
If the tenant receives the Notice, the tenant must respond in writing prior to the termination date in the Notice that the tenant has not abandoned the property and must provide a current address for the landlord. In addition, the tenant must pay current all rent that is owed. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1951.3(d).)
Q 10: Does the law discussed in this legal article pertain to all real property, commercial and residential?
A: Yes. The law applies to all real property (Cal. Civ. Code § 1951.3(a)).
Q 11: Does the law discussed in this legal article apply to mobilehomes?
A: No. For abandonment of mobilehomes, see the Mobilehome Residency Law; in particular, see California Civil Code Section 798.61.
Q 12: Where can I obtain additional information?
A: This legal article is just one of the many legal publications and services offered by C.A.R. to its members. For a complete listing of C.A.R.’s legal products and services, please visit C.A.R. Online at www.car.org.
Readers who require specific advice should consult an attorney.
Reprinted with permission of the California Association of Realtors. Credit for this piece is to be given to the C.A.R. Legal Department.
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