Speaking as keynote at the 39th annual Benjamin S. CrockerSymposium on Real Estate Law and Business, Cushman said that whenexactly the market will turn and what will precipitate that turn isstill unclear. He did cite a positive sign in that, "We are nolonger laying off the equivalent of the entire population of Bostonor Seattle every month like we were last year." That, he said,"pretty much exhausts the good news." He explained that in order toachieve a self-sustaining recovery, "we need jobs and consumerconfidence," adding that right now, "we don't have either."

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Cushman is most worried about a double dip recession. Thecountry cannot spend its way out of the economic slump and is "in apainful process of deleveraging that will take years to complete,"he said.

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The C&W chairman pointed out that companies have learned tofocus on core activities and have outsourced the rest, and thatmany of those companies will not regain their former stature. "Wehave all learned to do more with less and do it better, and I thinkthat will continue," he said.

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Scariest of all is that the government is tapped out, Cushmansaid. "Perhaps our prayers will be answered, but if all this seemsout of control, you are right," he explained. "For those of you inthe audience who retain some optimism, I would be delighted to takeyour questions and thereby dispel it."

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[IMGCAP(2)]Despite Cushman's skepticism about optimism, thebreakout sessions at Tuesday's event managed to find some, at leastin terms of potential new revenue sources for building owners. Asession titled "Off the Beaten Track: Innovative Ways to Make Moneyin Real Estate," was optimistically focused as the panel exploredsome of the best new—and not so new—profit opportunities forbuilding owners. These included generating revenue from licensingadvertising space on outer walls to inside elevators, to leasingrooftops for third-party solar panels, cell towers, and windturbines, and installing electric carports.

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Panelist Sophie Akins, a partner of Best Best Krieger LLP,explained that solar projects can generate revenue from "otherwisepassive properties." She said that clients who come to herregarding solar projects are basically looking to maximize thespace on roofs, empty land and in parking lots—"spaces that may nottypically be used to generate revenue sources," she said.

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Akins explained that the revenue from solar installations isthreefold. First, there are lease payments from renting empty roofspaces to solar or energy companies. Second, there is the energycost savings. Last, she explained that the new laws--Senate Bill 32and assembly bill 920--also include provisions that can add torevenue. "Contacting the utility company is a first step to getstarted," she advised.

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Building owners can also generate additional revenue by sellingspace for signs, provided they own properties outside of the LosAngeles city limits. Panelist Kim Westhoff, deputy Los Angeles CityAttorney, noted that new L.A. ordinances pretty much mean thatsignage isn't an innovative way to make money in real estate in thecity. But Ellen Berkowitz, a partner at Manatt, Phelps &Phillips, pointed out that Los Angeles is one of 88 cities in L.A.County and that many of the other cities have not banned off-siteadvertising. "Cities are looking into signage developmentagreements as a response to current budget problems," Berkowitzsaid. Naming West Hollywood as one of the most creative cities inthis regard, she said, "There are millions of dollars to bemade."

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In addition to Cushman's remarks and the breakout sessions, theCrocker Symposium included an address by California State AssemblySpeaker Karen Bass, who examined the critical role that the state'sbudgetary process will play in California's future.

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The Benjamin Crocker Symposium on Real Estate Law and Business—"Negotiating the Real Estate Maze: Challenges and Opportunities"—brought together more than 575 attendees and 45 exhibitors. It waspresented by the real estate property section of the Los AngelesCounty Bar Association and the Richard S. Ziman Center for RealEstate at UCLA.

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Natalie Dolce

Natalie Dolce, editor-in-chief of GlobeSt.com and GlobeSt. Real Estate Forum, is responsible for working with editorial staff, freelancers and senior management to help plan the overarching vision that encompasses GlobeSt.com, including short-term and long-term goals for the website, how content integrates through the company’s other product lines and the overall quality of content. Previously she served as national executive editor and editor of the West Coast region for GlobeSt.com and Real Estate Forum, and was responsible for coverage of news and information pertaining to that vital real estate region. Prior to moving out to the Southern California office, she was Northeast bureau chief, covering New York City for GlobeSt.com. Her background includes a stint at InStyle Magazine, and as managing editor with New York Press, an alternative weekly New York City paper. In her career, she has also covered a variety of beats for M magazine, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, FashionLedge.com, and Co-Ed magazine. Dolce has also freelanced for a number of publications, including MSNBC.com and Museums New York magazine.