: Advocacy & Government Affairs
Advocacy & Government Affairs
BOMA/Chicago has achieved an enviable record of successful advocacy on a broad range of regulatory and legislative issues for the commercial real estate industry in Chicago, Cook County, and the State of Illinois. BOMA/Chicago both initiates and responds to measures that impact members in every aspect of their operations. The professionalism and expertise of members have earned BOMA/Chicago a seat at the table with legislators and regulators as the voice of commercial real estate. BOMA/Chicago tracks four major areas on a regular basis:
- Life Safety
- Utility Deregulation
- Property Taxation
- Code Review
BOMA/Chicago members receive periodic alerts, which identify legislative and regulatory issues that need immediate action. These timely alerts help mobilize the industry and are highly effective in informing legislators and regulators of BOMA/Chicago’s position on issues of concern. Members also receive continual updates of government affairs in the BOMA/Chicago Report newsletter.
Successful advocacy initiatives have included:
FIRE & LIFE SAFETY:BOMA/Chicago is at the forefront of improvements in fire and life safety measures for office buildings in Chicago. An extraordinarily well-qualified Life Safety Task Force was formed to assist in development of BOMA/Chicago’s policies on issues such as stairwell door locks, automatic fire sprinklers, and revision of the life safety portions of the Chicago building codes. BOMA/Chicago has been the voice of the office building industry in proceedings before the Chicago City Council, the Illinois General Assembly, and others on important changes designed to enhance the safety of Chicago’s office buildings. Efforts focused on ensuring that new safety measures not only reflect the best industry practices but that they are economically viable solutions.
ELECTRIC UTILITIES: After months of extensive negotiation, BOMA/Chicago forged a landmark agreement with Commonwealth Edison Company to stabilize electric utility rates for commercial building customers, reducing them in many cases and easing the transition to a deregulated market in Illinois by 2007. Commercial customers now enjoy a greater range of supply choices, more competitive supply sources, and improved reliability. In addition, the utility established an $11 million fund to reimburse BOMA/Chicago and its member buildings for their expenses in complying with provisions of the Chicago electrical code that require the retrofit of emergency generators or other auxiliary power sources. Distributions to BOMA/Chicago members from that fund were made in 2004.
BUILDING CODE REWRITES: At the City’s invitation, BOMA/Chicago is actively participating in the rewrite of all the Chicago building codes, including important provisions on life safety and accessibility. BOMA/Chicago’s participation in that process is focused on ensuring that the practical needs and operational concerns of BOMA/Chicago members are reflected in the new codes.
BUILDING PERMITS & INSPECTIONS: BOMA/Chicago continues to press for improvement in Chicago’s building permit and inspection processes, with emphasis on cutting the lead times between application and permit issuance and on streamlining a variety of inspectional procedures. BOMA/Chicago representatives initiated proposals for several key programs currently under development by the City, which could dramatically reduce lead times for tenant improvement permits and cut unnecessary or duplicative inspections.
LABOR PRACTICES: A coalition of business groups organized by BOMA/Chicago successfully lobbied for defeat of state legislation that would have required new building service contractors, owners, and managers to continue to employ their predecessors’ employees. BOMA/Chicago monitors all labor legislation to ensure that the interests of building owners and managers are addressed.
PROPERTY TAXES: BOMA/Chicago joined forces with other business organizations to fight legislation that would shift significant property tax burdens to commercial buildings and perpetuate the unfairness inherent in Cook County’s classification system. Although the General Assembly passed that legislation, our advocacy efforts made it marginally better for building owners. BOMA/Chicago continues to work on further reforms of the property tax system.