By Ernie Cowan- NSDCAR Vice President of Government Affairs
LAWMAKERS RALLY VOTES TO PASS HOUSING PACKAGEIn the waning hours of the 2017 legislative session, state lawmakers rallied the votes necessary to reach agreement on a package of housing bills designed to help alleviate the state’s historic housing crisis. The Legislature’s vote to approve the package will provide up to $4.1 billion in bond funding, plus another $250 million annually from a real estate transaction fee, altogether the largest amount of state financing for affordable housing in California history. The package is projected to generate an estimated 70,000 housing units by 2022. The vote followed amendments to Senate Bills 2 and 3, which were the subject of intense negotiation as leaders statewide sought to stimulate development and respond to growing public pressure to improve housing affordability. Both SB2 and SB3 required a two-thirds approval by the Assembly to pass.
Building Homes and Jobs ActThe Building Homes and Jobs Act (SB 2), authored by Sen. Atkins (D-San Diego), will create a permanent revenue source to fund affordable housing by charging $75 to $225 in document fees on real estate transactions, such as mortgage refinancing. Home and commercial property sales are exempt from the fee. SB 2 is expected to generate approximately $5 billion over the next five years when matched with federal, local, and private funds. SB 2 was amended August 29th to provide greater local control over the funds. In 2018, half the funds will be made available to local governments to support community planning and half to the Department of Housing and Community Development to fund programs for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Beginning in 2019, local governments will receive 70% of the funds, with the remaining 30% appropriated to the California Housing Finance Agency to create mixed-income multifamily residential housing for lower to moderate income households. “There is no single silver bullet that will solve the crisis; however, SB 2 is a step in the right direction,” said Atkins following the bill’s passage. “It will generate new, ongoing funding to create permanent supportive housing for people who are experiencing chronic homelessness, providing them with services they need to address their physical and mental health issues and relieving pressure on our courts, jails, and emergency rooms.”
You may know NSDCAR REALTOR® member Carolyn D’Agosta who has served on the NSDCAR Board of Directors for the past 10 years. She also has served on the NSDCAR Professional Standards Committee for the past 20 years and on the Risk Management Committee since its founding about six years ago. Carolyn served as president of the Escondido Association of Realtors in 1978 and was involved in the 1994 formation of NSDCAR. She has served on the state level with the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) as a board member since 1974 and on numerous committees, including MLS, Legal Affairs, and Communications. She has served on the national level with the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) since 1985 and on numerous committees, including Professional Standards and Risk Management. She has received many awards from both C.A.R. and NAR. But did you know that Carolyn’s favorite pastime is spending time with her granddaughters? “I helped raise the girls, they each have their own room at our house,” said Carolyn. Nicole, 24, attends Palomar College. Amanda, 25, attends the University of San Francisco. “During the summer, the girls will spend several weeks at our house. We have fun watching movies, shopping and celebrating life. Sometimes, I also bring them along with me on my travels to real estate meetings. They call me `Grammy.’” Carolyn has been an owner-broker since 1975 and has worked on more than 2,000 transactions as an agent and broker principal. Her experience has included residential, new home subdivisions, lots and commercial properties. She also is active in real estate expert witness testimony and litigation support. She has been married to NSDCAR member Ron Romanowich for the past 11 years. “We have a very full and wonderful life between real estate work, entertaining friends at our home, spending time in the kitchen and bouncing around with Max,” said Carolyn. Max is a rescued West Highland terrier. “I also spend a lot of time reading and keeping up with real estate for my teaching and training.” One of Carolyn’s favorite dishes is chicken marsala made with chicken cutlets, mushrooms, and Marsala wine. “Ron makes the gravy for spaghetti, he’s an incredible cook,” said Carolyn. At the end of a busy day, Carolyn enjoys relaxing with a good book. She enjoys reading mysteries and thrillers. Her favorite novelists include: David Baldacci, who writes about a remarkable detective Amos Decker (“the man who can forget nothing”); Sandra Brown, a bestselling author of romantic novels and thriller suspense novels who also works under the pen names of Rachel Ryan, Laura Jordan, and Erin St. Claire; and, Dan Brown, author of thriller fiction, most notably the novels “Angels & Demons,” “The Da Vinci Code” and “Inferno.” Carolyn has traveled around the country and interacts with scores of REALTORS® and real estate associations in other cities and states. “I know what a good association looks like and our North County association is excellent,” she said. “We focus on serving our members, we care about our members. I’m so proud of our association and our commitment to the members.”
Congratulations and thanks for your participation. The “Call to Action” worked. Association members rose to the occasion and sent messages to their members of Congress about the government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This past Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted to approve an extension of the NFIP. The House of Representatives passed the legislation on Friday and then President Trump signed the bill into law. This legislation ensures that the NFIP will not lapse on Sept. 30, and will be extended until Dec. 8, 2017. While NFIP isn’t a household name, it’s often the only flood insurance available in a given market. That’s important, because if a property is in a 100-year floodplain, lenders will typically require flood insurance as part of the mortgage approval process. The NFIP isn’t just an issue for waterfront homes or homes in the direct path of hurricanes. Flooding can occur as a result of storm surge, severe rain or even snow melt. Many homeowners in San DiegoCounty who live near large storm drains or drainage channels are required to have flood insurance. Both the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and the California Association of REALTORS® encouraged our Association members to take action. After all, if flood insurance isn’t available, then we would be the ones forced to inform our clients that their dream home is off the table until the NFIP is extended. And, consumers deserve better. According to NAR President William Brown, if the NFIP would have expired, then home buying activity would have ground to a halt with as many as 40,000 lost of interrupted sales each month. Brown said expiration would have dealt significant damage to property owners, as well as to the business of real estate. NAR said reauthorization of the NFIP will help over 5 million homeowners in 22,000 communities around the country. NAR worked closely this year with the House Financial Services Committee to craft the renewal legislation. The bill will allow insured property to be grandfathered so that a buyer would receive roughly the same rate quote. NAR said it will continue legislative advocacy efforts for the 21st Century Flood Reform Act until this long-term reauthorization and reform bill is enacted.
You may know NSDCAR REALTOR® member Chuck Smiar as a member of NSDCAR’s Local Government Relations Committee (LGR). The LGR Committee focuses on how public policies can affect the local real estate industry. Its members also are involved in political advocacy and candidate endorsements. Chuck also served as the 2006 NSDCAR president and 2009 chair of the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) Region 29. He also has served since 2007 as the real estate industry representative of the North County Gang Commission, a seven-member, citizens volunteer group tasked by the County Board of Supervisors with finding ways to prevent and tamp down on gang crimes and violence. It’s believed North County is home to 22 known street gangs and more than 1,700 documented gang members. “The Gang Commission is my give-back to the community,” said Chuck. “As REALTORS®, we need to give back to our communities. I’m the longest-serving member of the Commission. Unfortunately, the gang problem isn’t going away soon. Gangs are attractive because young kids don’t have a family and they are looking for a place to belong. We’re seeing more gangs arriving in our neighborhoods from South America.” But did you know that Chuck spent 17 years working as a long-distance truck driver? Before his truck-driving career, Chuck served in the U.S. Navy (1959-1961), including aboard a World War II aircraft carrier, the USS Shangri-La, which was decommissioned in 1971 and sold for scrap in 1988. After the Navy, Chuck started driving trucks throughout the Midwest. At age 24, he took a year off from truck driving to work as a deputy sheriff in Cuyahoga County in Cleveland, Ohio, but then returned to trucking. At age 29, he was the youngest truck driver in the U.S. to hold a truck-train license. A truck-train, which Chuck drove from 1971 to 1977, refers to two or more freight trailers connected together. “Today, truck trains are not permitted in some states and on some mountain and city highways because it can be difficult to make turns,” said Chuck. “With some loads, it could take five lanes to make a right turn. But, truck-trains work very well on long stretches of straight, flat freeway and turnpikes. Some of the trailers I hauled would be loaded with 150,000 pounds of freight. I could make the Cleveland-to-Chicago run in eight hours without snow and ice.” Then, in 1977, Chuck, wife Sharon and their three daughters (ages 13, 11 and 9 at the time) left Parma, Ohio, and moved to Escondido. “We wanted to get out of the snow,” Chuck said. Chuck then began a 13-year career as a European auto dealer. “I worked in the grey market, which refers to cars built in Europe but not to American standards,” said Chuck. “I arranged for cars sold to buyers in Canada and the Middle East, and was considered an expert in determining the value of certain makes and models.” Then, in 1990, Chuck earned his real estate sales license and became a broker in 2000. He also is a licensed broker in Oklahoma and has coordinated several transactions of ranches and properties in Sallisaw, Checotah and Tulsa. Wife Sharon has worked as a licensed sales agent for 41 years. They have been married for 55 years and now have four grandchildren. Chuck said he was honored to serve as NSDCAR president. “The focus of the Association is to do whatever we can to make life easier for our members and remind everyone about the importance of integrity and honesty,” said Chuck. “A person is only as good as their word. Serving as president was an enjoyable experience, but it’s not about the board. Rather, it’s all about our members. I would encourage all the members to get involved and stay involved in our Association.”
You may know NSDCAR REALTOR® member Anthony Schmitt as 2017 chair of NSDCAR’s Vista-San Marcos District Council. This is his third year as a member of the District Council. But did you know that Anthony is a die-hard fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball club partly because Dave Roberts, the current Dodgers manager, attended Anthony’s high school? Roberts attended Vista High School as a freshman and was the MVP of the junior varsity team. Roberts then transferred to Rancho Buena Vista High School when it opened in 1987, and he was a standout in football, basketball and baseball. When Anthony played third base on the Rancho Buena Vista High School baseball team (2001-2005), Anthony said Roberts sometimes attended the high school team’s games and practices and appeared at awards banquets. At the time, Roberts was an active Major League Baseball player with several teams, including the Dodgers, Red Sox and Padres. Roberts began his coaching career with the Padres in 2010, and was named the Dodgers manager in November 2015. Currently, the first-place Dodgers have a commanding lead in the National League’s West Division. The team is expected to easily qualify for the playoffs. “I think this is the Dodgers’ year and I’m hoping to buy World Series tickets as soon as they go on sale,” said Anthony, who also played baseball for one season in college while attending Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, Calif. “I stuck with it and made the team as a walk-on pitcher,” he said. Anthony earned his bachelor’s degree in Business/Entrepreneurship from Cal Lutheran in 2009. Anthony grew up in Vista in a real estate family. His father, Paul Schmitt, served as NSDCAR’s inaugural president in 1994, when NSDCAR was formed following the merger of several North County REALTOR® associations. In 1989, two years after Anthony was born, Paul founded Golden Pacific Real Estate, a real estate sales and property management company based in San Marcos. “While growing up, I spent a lot of time at the office, helping with administrative tasks and learning the ropes,” said Anthony, who earned his real estate license while attending Cal Lutheran. “I have a great mentor in my father.” Late last year, Anthony, 30, purchased the family company from his father. “We were able to negotiate a complete buy-out,” said Anthony. “I was already overseeing day-to-day business operations and wanted to invest in the growth of the company. So, I made my dad an offer he couldn’t refuse. In 2017, we are on pace to post our best sales volume in seven years.” Anthony met his wife Allison, unfortunately for him a Padres Fan, when both of them were on trips with friends in Las Vegas. “We exchanged phone numbers and never stopped talking,” Anthony said. They were married in September 2014 at Allison’s home church, Saint Gregory the Great Catholic Church in Scripps Ranch. Their wedding reception was attended by more than 200 people at Maderas Golf Club in Poway. “I have large Italian family so it was a boisterious wedding,” Anthony said. Anthony and Allison spent their honeymoon in Greece. “If it's safe again to travel there, we would like to return for our 10-year anniversary,” said Anthony. Allison recently began her seventh year as an elementary school teacher. She taught first grade in Chula Vista for four years and currently teaches fifth grade at Solana Pacific, a 4th-6th grade elementary school in the Solana Beach School District. The two reside in Mira Mesa with their 3-year old dog Mykonos, whom they proudly adopted after returning from their honeymoon and named accordingly. Under Anthony’s leadership, the Vista-San Marcos District Council has organized several NSDCAR Community Service Days consisting of clean-up and painting activities at Boys and Girls Clubs in the North County. Members of NSDCAR’s Vista-San Marcos District Council and Oceanside District Council are organizing two upcoming Community Service Days at the Boys & Girls Club of Oceanside on Saturday, Sept. 23, and the Boys & Girls Club of Vista on Saturday, Oct. 21. NSDCAR is seeking donations to be made directly to each club. Supporting businesses can have their logo appear on an NSDCAR Community Service t-shirt. “As REALTORS® we’ve got to stay committed to giving back to the community,” Anthony said. “I do love that our Association focuses on both supporting the members with outstanding educational opportunities, plus supporting the community. REALTORS® always need to serve, connect and celebrate our local neighborhoods and cities because it projects a spirit of local entrepreneurship and overall betterment in the places we call home."