Many advocacy successes in commercial real estate depend on the volunteers within BOMA local associations. Each year, BOMA Intl.’s State Government Affairs Committee acknowledges the outstanding work of these volunteers in advocacy and education through the Government Affairs Awards of Recognition program. Awards are bestowed in three categories: Outstanding Government Affairs Committee, Single Government Affairs Issue, and Single Government Affairs Program/Seminar. This year’s awards cycle saw the highest number of entries in the program’s history and showed that BOMA local associations continue to represent the commercial real estate industry at the state and local levels.
At BOMA Intl.’s Winter Business Meeting in January, the awards were presented to BOMA/Houston for Outstanding Government Affairs Committee, BOMA/Greater Los Angeles for Single Government Affairs Issue, and BOMA/Atlanta for Single Government Affairs Program/Seminar. BOMA/Arizona was also presented a special award for its success in passing a favorable mandatory telecommunications access bill during the 2006 legislative session.
The Outstanding Government Affairs Committee category recognizes a local or state government affairs committee that has positioned its association to have maximum impact on a wide range of ongoing policy issues. In the Government Affairs Issue category, entries encompass a lobbying campaign that affected the outcome of a specific issue within the realm of legislative or regulatory issues. Entries in the Single Government Affairs Program/Seminar category pertain to programs designed to educate or involve members in the political process.
This year, BOMA/Houston was honored for its aggressive advocacy agenda in support of the association’s mission of advancing the interests of the commercial real estate industry. When the Washington, D.C.-based Service Employees Intl. Union (SEIU) attempted to unionize the city’s janitorial workforce, BOMA/Houston mobilized its resources by hiring a law firm and public relations firm, and enlisting its members to lessen the union’s impact. The city also sought the association’s input in drafting an anti-graffiti ordinance impacting commercial properties. Additionally, BOMA/Houston collaborated with the city’s fire department to initiate an effort to install automatic fire-sprinkler systems in all high-rise buildings. Finally, the association worked with the mayor and the building services department to assist in placing the city’s facilities under the management of a third party.
BOMA/Greater Los Angeles not only tackled a legislative issue head-on, but went one step further with the development of a program and professional designation that provides leading-edge training and support for security personnel working in the city’s high-rise office buildings. Late in 2004, SEIU stepped up its campaign to unionize Los Angeles security guards. Citing high security-guard turnover rates and minimal training as major problems, the mayor proposed a program mandating unionization of the workforce and requiring union-backed training for office-building security guards. While the mayor perceived the turnover rates to be in the 300-percent range, BOMA/Greater Los Angeles refuted those claims with data from the city’s top security firms (showing that the rates were in the 35- to 40-percent range).
The association also created the Building Owners and Managers Alliance for Safety (BOMAS), which developed The BOMAS Safe Buildings Plan to improve emergency preparedness and coordination between the commercial real estate industry and the city. Another facet of the plan was the BOMA/Greater Los Angeles Accredited Security Organization (ASO), designed to promote professional excellence and increased training for valued security personnel, enabling individuals to better recognize threats, report vulnerabilities, identify risks, and become an even more vital aid to emergency responders. Ultimately, the association was able to defeat the city’s proposal; to date, the ASO program has trained more than 1,600 security guards.
The State Government Affairs Committee also chose to recognize the efforts of BOMA/Arizona, a coalition encompassing BOMA/Phoenix and BOMA/Tucson, for its successful campaign to protect the private-property rights of the state’s commercial real estate owners and their tenants. Over the past 3 years, BOMA/Arizona has fought a continuous effort by the telecommunications industry to force building access. Given the political climate last year, the coalition saw an opportunity to proactively institute legislation to protect private-property rights that give owners the legal right to determine which vendors enter their buildings, as well as the ability to negotiate the terms of that entry. The bill was passed by both the House and the Senate; it was ultimately signed into law by Governor Janet Napolitano on March 24. Other BOMA local associations are now looking to recreate BOMA/Arizona’s model to protect private-property rights in other states.
Honored in the Single Government Affairs Program/Seminar category, BOMA/Atlanta’s “BOMA Day at the Capitol” has become the highlight of the year for many of its members and has served to further the association’s mission and goals. For the past 5 years, its members have ascended the halls of the state capitol to educate their legislators about the issues impacting the commercial real estate industry. During BOMA/Atlanta’s visit, members attended part of the House of Representatives’ session and were recognized from the House floor. Additionally, the Georgia House passed HR 511, a resolution recognizing the many valuable contributions of BOMA/Atlanta and declaring March 17, 2005, BOMA Day at the Capitol.