Gary M. Laturno, (firstname.lastname@example.org) 619-741-9652
Christine Gregorak, (email@example.com) (415) 331-2555
I work for State Compensation Insurance Fund, which is a hybrid government agency/insurance carrier created by the California Constitution under Article 14, Section 4, whose purpose is to provide workers’ compensation insurance for California employers. I work as an attorney within the subrogation department filing actions for the recovery of benefits paid to covered employees. Most of the time, the cases involve premise liability, construction accidents, motor vehicle and product liability.
Question: Did you enjoy law school at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles? Tell me about your law school days....
I really enjoyed law school and learning about different areas of the law. I spent way too long trying to figure out whether I had a valid claim against random people for intentional infliction of emotional distress. But it was very exciting to learn so much. I feel I gained a greater understanding on how our society and legal system work.
Question: Do you remember studying for the bar?
The bar was a lot of work, and not necessarily fun. But it was my last significant test of my educational career, so I attacked it with full force. It was make or break and I was highly motivated to pass.
Question: Do you work on “work/life” balance?
Sometimes you just have to make an executive decision and treat yourself to some free time…something like a “no work” night or weekend. Doing something you always wanted to do or something random works just as well. I personally like being active so anything involving movement.
Question: What areas of real estate interest you the most?
Most of my real estate background has been in litigation, usually involving a sale, lease, loan or some type of transfer of a real estate interest. However, I am currently looking to learn more about public policy with regards to meeting our society’s housing needs. A lot of the material I read says that there is insufficient housing so I would like to learn more to see what can and should be done.
Question: What CLE topics would you like to see either locally in your area or on a Statewide level?
I like traditional CLE courses that cover the general nuts and bolts of real estate law but also incorporate current events.
Question: What is your impression of the new organization the CLA?
I am really excited to see how the new sections develop within the CLA. The sections seem eager to improve upon their current services whether through CLE or networking events. Like in some many other areas, the trick is to engage the members and make it fun for everyone. I hope we are able to create energy and a buzz to keep members active and engaged.
Question: Would you attend a CLE in Northern California?
I do not believe I have attended any CLE in Sacramento or far away from my office, but I would strongly consider doing so depending on what was being offered. Often, the choice of whether people attend a CLE depends on who is going to be there, where it is, and whether you think you will have fun. I have been and am going to the Real Property Retreat in Northern California. I make the trip.
Question: What are you looking forward to at the retreat?
I will be at the Retreat for all 4 days, Thursday to Sunday. I will be staying in San Francisco and helping with the Retreat. I will also be moderating a presentation called “Managing Casualties Affecting Commercial Properties” with 3 great panelists, Mark Seifert, Spencer McCann and Paul Tradelius. I like the fact that the retreat is in downtown San Francisco and I do expect to explore the city. I am from Southern California and looking forward to being a tourist in San Francisco for the weekend. I generally wish I had more time to take more CLE’s as it definitely provides a nice break from the work day.
I attended the Commercial Real Estate Leasing CLE at USF in San Francisco on March 29, 2018 and walked away very satisfied. First, remarkably, USF has an adjunct building of some sort in downtown San Francisco on Howard Street, just about 7 minutes walk from the AT&T ballpark. Travelling from my humble East Bay office from BART was very easy. I was glad to stay away from MUNI, like my law school days.
There were about 30 attorneys at the event which was hosted by RPLS’s own Jo Ann Woodsum.The two-part course focused on negotiable areas of a commercial lease, especially in light of the current commercial market in San Francisco.Some interesting perspectives were shared.I especially enjoyed the insights concerning the hypothetical start-up of two guys starting a business in their garage and then expanding from there and the challenges of communicating with these types of clients and their expectations.
Brenna Moorhead of Goodwin Procter shared great content about word usage and language.I enjoyed Brittan Hawken of Jones Lang LaSalle’s perspectives of the issues from a commercial brokers angle and what is negotiable in the current market.Of course, Jo Ann Woodsum of Law Offices of Jo Ann Woodsum commanded the presentation with great expertise on both hours.
The food during the break was good.I met my calorie-counter goals and still ate a beefy brownie! I met some great colleagues like Celine Mui Simon who does commercial real estate and banking along with other people. Great event!
Would you like to be interviewed for our next E-bulletin and have attended an RPLS Event? Shoot me an e-mail. Let’s document your experience!
Want To Give A Webinar From The Comfort of Your Own Office?
• You can teach a class on your chosen topic which will be cast over the web all over California and beyond.
• Submit your proposed classes and availability to Steven Delateur at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submit An Article To The E-Bulletin
• Concise Title
• Short summary of article not to exceed 100 words
• “Tweetable” Title/Summary of article not to exceed 140 characters (Can be the same as title)
• Full length submission in Word format
• Must be proofed and ready to publish
• Submit by the 10th of the month
• MCLE credit for acceptance or publication of your article. See http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Portals/0/documents/rules/Rules_Title2_Div4-MCLE.pdf
• For more information, please contact the E-Bulletin’s Editor, John (JR) Richards, email@example.com
Submit An Article To The Real Property Law Journal
• Published 3-4 times per year
• Articles 10 - 30 pages double spaced
• More in-depth content than E-Bulletin
• Work with talented editors
• MCLE credit for acceptance or publication of your article. See http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Portals/0/documents/rules/Rules_Title2_Div4-MCLE.pdf
• For more information, please contact the Journal’s Interim Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor, Christina R. Sansone, CSansone@SansoneLawFirm.com
Contact: Christina R. Sansone, Interim Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor of the California Real Property Journal, (818) 216-6664, CSansone@SansoneLawFirm.com.
Where: Not Napa, San Francisco
Hyatt Regency Embarcadero , Five Embarcadero Center, San Francisco
ONLINE REGISTRATION IS CLOSED. REGISTER ONSITE.
o 47 educational programs
o Included legal ethics, elimination of bias and competency issues
o Common mistakes made on unlawful detainer complaints and tenant notices
o Affirmative defenses asserted by tenants
o Steps necessary to prove the landlord’s case at trial.
o Mock trial demonstration of the courtroom process.
o Helpful handouts
o New legislation and proposed legislation
Courtesy of CEB, we are bringing you selected legal developments in areas of California real property law that are covered by CEB’s publications. This month’s feature is from the January 2018 update to California Real Estate Finance Practice (Cal CEB). References are to the book’s section numbers.See CEB’s RPLS landing page for special discounts for section members.
In Pacifica L 51 LLC v New Invs., Inc (In re New Invs., Inc.) (9th Cir 2016) 840 F3d 1137, a divided three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit held that "Entz-White's rule of allowing a curing debtor to avoid a contractual post-default interest rate in a loan agreement is no longer valid in light of 11 USC §1123(d)." See §3.36.
In Rincon EV Realty LLC v CP III Rincon Towers, Inc. (2017) 8 CA5th 1, the court, in construing loan documents governed by New York law, held that the trial court erred in enforcing a predispute contractual jury trial waiver, reasoning that California, as the forum for adjudication of the case, had a materially greater interest in determining the enforceability of the jury trial waiver at issue. See §§3.48, 3.103, 4.55, 4.58, 8.63.
The expiration date for the requirements imposed by the Perata Mortgage Relief Bill (SB 1137) (former CC §2923.5), which imposes additional requirements for notices of default and notices of sale that were not described in the deed of trust, has been extended to January 1, 2018. See §4.60A.
The American Bar Association Section of Real Property, Trust & Estate Law, the American College of Mortgage Attorneys, and the American College of Real Estate Lawyers have published an illustrative local counsel opinion, which is now included in the Local Counsel Opinion Letters in Real Estate Finance Transactions: A Supplement to the Real Estate Finance Opinion Report of 2012, 51 Real Prop Tr & Est J 167 (2016) (referred to as the 2016 Local Counsel Report), making several amendments. They are discussed in chapter 8.
In MTC Fin. Inc. v United States HUD (ND Cal, Sept. 2, 2016, No. 15-cv-05057-JCS) 2016 US Dist Lexis 119226, both a nonforeclosing second lienholder (HUD) and the debtor claimed the rights to the surplus proceeds resulting from another lender's foreclosure. The borrower sought the surplus, claiming that HUD's failure to notify the parties of its claim to the surplus at the time of foreclosure waived its rights. The federal court (HUD having removed the case from state court) held that the junior lender had priority over the borrower-owner even though HUD failed to file a claim with the foreclosing trustee. See §10.19.
In Hinrichsen v Bank of America (SD Cal, May 9, 2017, No. 17-cv-0219) 2017 US Dist Lexis 70943, the court held that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) (15 USC §§1692–1692p) specifically could apply to a foreclosure action when the lender pursued a nonjudicial foreclosure in spite of the borrower's lawful rescission. See §10.26.
In Mashiri v Epsten Grinnell & Howell (9th Cir 2017) 845 F3d 984, the court held that a lawyer's collection letter about overdue homeowner association fees violated the FDCPA by failing to notify homeowners of their right to a 30-day minimum deadline for disputing the debt. See §10.26.
In Kalnoki v First Am. Trustee Servicing Solutions, LLC
(2017) 8 CA5th 23, the court held that a procedurally defective foreclosure
was voidable, but not void, and rejected the borrower's defense based on that
defect because it was only available if raised by the trustee. See §10.26B.
By Amara L. Morrison
This article was reprinted with permission from the Contra Costa County Bar Association (CCCBA). It was originally published in the April 2018 issue of Contra Costa Lawyer magazine, a publication of the CCCBA. You can view the original online here: http://cclawyer.cccba.org/2018/04/update-on-housing-projects-in-contra-costa-developers-innovative-ways-to-help-cities-address-the-housing-crisis/
We have all read the headlines,
and perhaps, have personally experienced the very real and significant housing
crisis facing the Bay Area. Here in Contra Costa County, housing prices
increased nearly 10% in 2017, with the median sales price of a single family
home in Walnut Creek coming in at a staggering $1,070,000.
sales dropped 11.4.% from 2016 to 2017. It does not take an economist to
understand what is driving these statistics; it’s simply a function of supply
The need for more housing—at
all levels of affordability—is acute and reflects the demand side of the
equation. While there are more than enough qualified, well-financed and
experienced developers eager to build housing throughout the county, the
permitting and entitlement process is lengthy, enormously expensive and fraught
with challenges from any number of sources. Relative to the issue of
expense, developers face development impact fees on average of $90,000 per
unit, which does not include the cost to purchase the land, nor does it include
processing and entitlement costs, building permit fees or school impact
fees. This affects the supply side of the equation.
Municipalities frequently find
themselves caught between the state’s obligation to provide their regional
share of housing units and vociferous opponents to new housing developments
based upon fears of impacts to traffic, schools, air quality and quality of
life. Other articles in this month’s
Contra Costa Lawyer detail
efforts by legislators to alleviate the housing crisis and will not be addressed
here. Rather, we would like to focus this article on just two recent
housing developments and the innovative efforts developers and their land use
counsel have used in seeking project approval.
Under the Housing Element Law, when a
jurisdiction rezones properties in its General Plan Housing Element inventory
to residential uses in an effort to accommodate its share of the regional
housing need, those sites allow residential use on the properties “by
right.” This “use by right” authority means that, once an inventory site
is rezoned to residential use, the jurisdiction’s review of a residential
housing project proposed for the site
may notrequire further
discretionary review under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”)
A recently approved apartment project in central Contra Costa County relied upon this statutory “use by right” authority. The apartment project was proposed for one of the city’s Housing Element inventory sites. As a result, the city could not undertake any discretionary review typically associated with the land use entitlement process (such as a conditional use or planned development permit) other than design review of the proposed project. Nor was the city permitted to undertake any CEQA analysis of potential environmental impacts or impose mitigation measures (other than those which had been identified as a part of the CEQA review of the rezoning of the Housing Element inventory site).
As CEQA is the most-relied-upon weapon in housing opponents’ arsenal, this statutory “use by right” provision is a powerful tool to acquiring approval of certain housing projects in a time- and cost-effective manner. This project approval will allow for the construction of 150 multi-family residential units, meeting the need for such housing while assisting the city in meeting its share of state mandated regional housing obligations.
Another example of developer creativity in securing project approvals is reflected in an infill development featuring mixed-use (residential and ground floor retail) that included hotel rooms which the city had envisioned for the parcel through a “specific plan” planning process. That specific plan mapped out desired land uses on various parcels within the specific plan area, allowing parcels to be developed according to the particular land uses through a conditional use permit (“CUP”) issued by the Planning Commission. As a result of allowing a change in land use (for example, from office zoning to residential zoning) by issuance of a CUP by the Planning Commission, a number of parcels in the city had seen a change in use from non-residential to residential. Of course, this change has been market driven with developers understanding the need for more multi-family housing.
During the entitlement process for this particular project, the city considered a moratorium on developers’ use of the CUP process in connection with seeking project approvals. The city was primarily concerned that too many mixed use projects were being approved using this streamlined CUP approach. While the moratorium was, ultimately, not adopted by the city, it appeared the city was focused on providing hotel units on the site.
In an effort to address the city’s desire to add more hotel rooms, the developer offered to make just under a quarter of the residential units hotel units. Creativity on the part of the developer was precisely what was needed to get the project approved, meeting both market needs and the city’s objectives for more hotel rooms within the city.
Despite public concern over crowded schools and streets, the Bay Area has far too few housing units to support the number of new employees flooding the region. Rather than working at cross-purposes, developers and public officials should strive to work cooperatively to meet the high demand for housing and to focus those efforts on under-utilized parcels in cities close to transit.
Oakland landlords who are contemplating buying-out a tenant have a short window of opportunity to engage in more open discussions before new rules go into effect on May 1, 2018.
As its name implies, a tenant buy-out agreement (or in Oakland’s vernacular, a move-out agreement) is an arrangement whereby the tenant voluntarily vacates the rental unit, in exchange for compensation. Move-out agreements are particularly attractive when there are no convenient legal grounds to compel a tenant to leave or to avoid the cumbersome legal process.
The prerequisite to any agreement, of course, is to initiate a conversation and negotiate what dollar amount makes sense to both parties, but this dialog will soon be subjected to regulations that the city passed on March 20th, which adds to Chapter 8.22 of the Oakland Municipal Code.
Free speech assailed
A landlord's prerogative to approach tenants with the offer of buying them out of the residence is constitutionally protected free speech under the First Amendment, a right that after scrutiny, has been upheld by courts.
It is well grounded that private parties can enter into a voluntary agreement and that agreement is legally enforceable if certain elements are met, namely offer, acceptance and consideration. A properly negotiated tenant move-out agreement passes the muster.
While it is a rarity for Big Brother to have a say in covenants that are forged between consenting parties, Oakland has joined San Francisco in an exclusive club that regulates buyout negotiations between landlords and tenants. Just as courts have affirmed a landlord’s right to free speech, so too, has it upheld a San Francisco ordinance that constrains this speech.
By passing the Tenant Move Out Agreement Ordinance, Oakland ushered in a sweeping law that creates disclosure and reporting stipulations that must be issued before a landlord can even broach the topic of a buyout.
So as to let owners know that Oakland is serious about the ordinance, the law imposes hefty penalties for landlords that take short cuts by ignoring the procedural requirements and starting an informal chat with a tenant on their own.
The ordinance dictates the choreographed procedures that rental property owners must follow and adds teeth to the measure, and here is the Reader’s Digest version. Owners must:
» Provide tenant with a written pre-negotiation disclosure on a form prescribed by the City.
» Inform tenants of their right to consult with a lawyer.
» Provide tenants with a statement allowing them to rescind the move-out agreement for up to 25 days after execution.
These ordinance procedures only apply if an owner and tenant are negotiating a tenant buyout. This move-out ordinance should not be confused with owner move-in relocation fees. For more information on owner-move ins and relocation fees, consult our earlier article on this subject.
Mimicking San Francisco
We notice stark similarities between Oakland’s ordinance and that of San Francisco’s, with an exception that jumps off the page – if all of the T’s are crossed and the tenant enters into a proper move-out agreement, only to later change their mind, Oakland residents have 25 days to rescind the agreement, while San Franciscans are afforded a full 45 days to make an about face.
Bornstein Law laments the passage of the ordinance because it adds new layers of red tape to an already obstructive process that burdens small rental property owners. The new restrictions in communication drive a deeper wedge between landlords and tenants, which will likely result in clogging the court system with cases that could be averted if open communication were not trampled upon.
More fluid dialog, we believe, would increase the number of instances of “win-win” situations, where both parties would negotiate mutually agreeable terms. Being dragged into court is a lose-lose situation for landlords and tenants alike but seems inevitable for a city whose policies have trudged ever closer to the heavy-handed rent control policies of San Francisco.
Constraining communication between consenting parties all but guarantees a pathway to the costly judicial system that adds further expenses to property owners already saddled with high costs of doing business and may very well lead to evictions that would be avoided if there were no stumbling blocks to two parties coming to the table.
Buyout agreements are nothing to be trifled with
Structuring a tenant buyout agreement was already a legally consequential undertaking, but Oakland’s Tenant Move-Out Ordinance adds new layers of complexity that must be journeyed with an attorney versed in landlord-tenant law.
Question: Where and what kind of law does your firm practice?
The Seifert Law Firm, based in San Francisco, focuses on real estate and business disputes. The firm’s real estate litigation practice includes commercial landlord-tenant disputes (e.g., evictions, lease damages, restoration issues, etc.), quiet title, inverse condemnation, and other issues. Many of the cases involve property in the San Francisco Bay Area, but the firm’s practice extends statewide. The firm’s business litigation practice extends to disputes involving breach of contract, fraud, unfair business practices, business torts, insurance, employment defense, partnership and LLC disputes, and other matters.
Question: How long has your firm been operating
I founded the firm in 2016 after practicing for several years at a large international firm and then a California real estate firm.
Question: What is your favorite area of real property law?
One of my favorite areas of the law is my commercial landlord-tenant practice, which allows me to draw on my years of experience with the substantive and procedural law unique to such cases, as well as my familiarity with the business side of the commercial leasing industry. I have been able to develop this experience representing commercial landlords and tenants in cases involving office towers, shopping malls, restaurants, industrial space, and other types of property.
Question: Are there any parts of your business you are trying to grow?
Yes -- the firm is on track to expand to keep up with demand for litigation services, and may also expand to offer transactional services such as commercial leasing, entity formation, and other matters.
Question: Tell me about your law school experience.
I graduated from UC Hastings in 2001 having had a great experience. The professors were fantastic both as scholars and educators, and consistently took the students’ best interests to heart through teaching, mentoring, etc. The students also were a major asset in terms of their diligence, focus, and collegiality. In my experience, the school’s reputation for being cutthroat was exactly the oppose of what I saw. I was fortunate to gravitate toward a group of classmates in the fall of my 1L year that still keeps in close touch even to this day, twenty years later.
Question: Did you like studying for the bar exam?
Yes, believe it or not. Like law school, it is a lot of hard work, but it is manageable if you stay focused, work efficiently, and keep up with the prep program. It is also more “time in the trenches” which makes for good bonding with study group peers.
Question: What do you do to help balance your life with work?
I stay actively involved with my kids’ school and activities. I coordinate parent volunteers and do classroom volunteering myself. Also, we drag the kids to the mountains for skiing in the winter and camping in the summer as often as we can. I also took up distance running a few years ago and I make a point of keeping up with a running schedule.
Question: What CLE topics would you like to see either locally in San Francicsco or on a Statewide level
A rich mix of substantive programming concerning real estate law; procedural / tactical issues in unlawful detainer litigation, general civil litigation, and transactional matters; and bench-bar panels where participants can hear directly from local judges.
Question: What is your impression of the new organization CLA?
Based on my impression so far, I have been impressed to see that CLA appears to be professionally managed, well organized, and robust. I have to assume that this is the result of hard work by CLA leadership and professional staff.
Question: If you could join more than one section for the same price, what sections would you join?
Real Property Law, Litigation, Labor & Employment, Solo & Small Firm.
Question: Have you ever attended a CLE on the web?
Question: Have you ever attended a CLE event in Southern California or Sacramento?
I have presented CLEs in Southern California, but have not attended any there.
Question: What’s the farthest you have travelled for a CLE?
Lake Tahoe (traveling from San Francisco).
Question: Have you ever attended attorney social events outside of the Bay Area?
I have attended numerous social events at the Real Property Law Section retreats over the years, including in Lake Tahoe and Sonoma.
Question: Are you going to our retreat in SF this year?
Yes, and I will be speaking on a panel and plan to go for each day. I am local, so that helps and I have signed up for several of the social events.
Question: Have you ever seen Beach Blanket Babylon, Alcatraz at night, Tour of China Town, Spark Social? Impressions?
I have seen Beach Blanket Babylon -- it’s one-of-a-kind and entertaining, good for attendees visiting from out of town. I have been to Alcatraz during the day, and have spent time visiting Chinatown -- again, both are great ideas for people visiting the city.
Question: Any speakers of particular interest to you?
Yes -- I am looking forward to hearing several of the programs, seeing panelists I know from RPLS and elsewhere (including former colleagues and clients), and networking with people I have yet to meet.
Membership in CLA is now available to:
Why Join The Real Property Law Section:
California Lawyers Association
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San Francisco, CA 94105-1639