The National Association of Industrial and Office Properties isthe nation's leading trade association for developers, owners,investors, asset managers and other professionals in industrial,office and mixed-use commercial real estate. NAIOP of Florida hasmore than 1,500 members in six chapters: Central Florida, NortheastFlorida, Northwest Florida, South Florida, Southwest Florida andTampa Bay. The association provides networking opportunities,educational programs, research on trends and innovations, andstrong legislative representation.

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Issues important to NAIOP heading into the 2008 legislativesession were some of the same issues our industry has beenmonitoring for the past few years. NAIOP's core issues include:commercial property tax relief, commercial windstorm insuranceaffordability and availability, sustainable development (greenbuilding), growth management and tax collection on Internet sales.In addition, legislation focusing on energy conservation and theextension of approved developments of regional impact, or DRIs,were very important.

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The bills described below are those of importance to NAIOP ofFlorida that passed and are awaiting Gov. Charlie Crist'ssignature:

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Senate Bill 1706, addressing DRIs, is known in the TampaBay area as the "Pasco County fix." This bill provides a three-yearextension to all DRIs issued between Jan. 1, 2006, and July 1,2007. This was important legislation due to the drastic slowdown inthe economy. Any extension also includes all associated localgovernment approvals. Without these extensions a DRI, which costshundreds of thousands of dollars and several years to obtain, couldhave expired before the developer had a fighting chance to deliverhis dream and realize a profit. Yes, we are in the business to makea profit!

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House Bill 909 deals with ad valorem taxation andprovides some other nice measures for us taxpayers. One of theprimary points of this bill is that the appraiser valuing theproperty must consider the current legally permissible use of theproperty and any zoning changes, concurrency requirements, orpermits needed to achieve "highest and best use." This will helpmany landowners who believe their tax bills were greatly inflatedbecause the property was valued as what it could be, instead of itsexisting use. This bill should help maintain reasonable tax levelsfor properties in their current use.

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The bill also provides that no specific minimum acreage or sizeis required in order to achieve an agricultural assessment. Somecounties had been requiring at least 10 acres be applied before anagricultural assessment could be given to a property.

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Finally, the bill addresses one of our membership's other majorcomplaints in determining value. This was the concept that requireda successful appeal to discredit all the known theories used by theproperty appraiser to determine value, not just the actual theoryused in determining the petitioner's property value. This changeshould greatly level the playing field when perfecting a taxappeal.

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House Bill 7135, addressing energy conservation, was veryimportant to Crist. The governor has been very outspoken in hissupport for reducing greenhouse gases. Our industry is very much insupport of this, but only if it truly creates a savings for theconsumer. Fortunately, the bill was amended to incorporate a testthat will determine if the mandated energy efficiency standards arecost effective before they are implemented.

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Legislation addressing other NAIOP core issues did not pass,including Internet sales tax, growth management changes wesupported, preferred commercial insurance policies exempt fromCitizens Insurance assessments and affordable housinginitiatives.

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NAIOP's plan going forward will be to continuously monitor ourcore issues, particularly Hometown Democracy, to ensure thatFlorida remains a wonderful place to live and work.

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The views expressed here are those of the author and not ofReal Estate Media or its publications.

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Stevens E. Tombrink is NAIOP of Florida president andregional vice president of real estate services with Equity Inc. inTampa. He can be reached at [email protected].

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