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COSTA MESA, CA-Developers and investors in Southern California this year are facing a regional water shortage that has already sidetracked some projects, along with a list of other concerns including a new state law regulating greenhouse gas emissions and a statewide budget squeeze that could postpone funding for much-needed transportation projects. These are just some of the issues that Terry Thompson, a vice president with WCB Properties in Newport Beach, has on his mind as the new president of Naiop’s SoCal chapter. Naiop SoCal, which originated with the combination of the Los Angeles and Orange County organizations in 2000, is the second-largest Naiop chapter in the country with more than 1,200 members.

Thompson and Jim Camp, legislative chair for the chapter, tell GlobeSt.com that the chapter’s agenda for 2008 will reflect the group’s ongoing emphasis on the three initiatives that it focuses on year-in and year-out: legislative affairs, relationship-building events and educational programs like Naiop University and the Young Professionals Group, which started with the SoCal chapter and have been adopted nationally. Within that framework, Thompson says, 2008 promises to be “a pivotal year, both economically and legislatively.”

Thompson describes the legislative chair that Camp occupies as “our most critical committee chairmanship,” and Camp adds that 2008 is a crucial year because, “in California this year, we have more issues to monitor than we have at any point in time.” He points out that, thanks to a drought that has caused at least one Southern California water district to temporarily halt some large projects, the legislators in Sacramento “are trying to figure out how to provide more water storage and distribution.”

The state is also trying to figure out how to implement AB 32, which is designed to roll back carbon emissions to 1990 levels in an effort to reduce global warming. That effort “could have radical implications regarding our ability to develop,” Camp says.

And then there is the $14-billion California budget shortfall, which Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger and a Democratic legislature will be tackling in what promises to be a bitter battle. Schwarzenneger has proposed cutting state spending 10% across the board, and one of Camp’s concerns is that transportation programs will suffer disproportionately.

Camp explains that “Transportation dollars continually get robbed for other state programs” in California, which adopted a series of bond measures more than a year ago to finance new transportation projects but has yet to fund them. “We are very focused on getting the state to build the freeways that it has promised,” Camp says. “We are worried because we don’t want to go a few steps backward in a year when we had hoped to take a few steps forward.”

One of the chief sources of the funds for Naiop SoCal’s legislative efforts is its annual “Night at the Fights,” held at the Irvine Marriott, which is also the group’s biggest networking and charitable fund-raiser of the year, drawing more than 1,000 attendees. Thompson tells GlobeSt.com that the annual event, which the chapter has held every year since 1990, helps the organization to maintain its leadership role, which was one of the points he addressed in his kickoff board meeting as the new Naiop SoCal president. “One of the points I made in the meeting is that this year is a call to leadership,” he says.

In addition to its legislative focus and its networking events, Naiop SoCal this year will continue its efforts in the third of its ongoing initiatives, the educational realm. Thompson notes that two of the chapter’s educational programs, Naiop University and the Young Professionals Group, have been adopted by Naiop nationally after being started here.

Naiop University is a monthly program that addresses topics of interest to the industry and is offered at locations in both Los Angeles and Orange County. The Young Professionals Group is a 12-month, 70-hour education, networking, and leadership program designed to attract younger members.

Camp, who was one of those who helped to establish the Young Professionals Group, describes it as “a unique opportunity for young professionals in the real estate industry to get access to top leaders” including company CEOs and other industry professionals. “This has turned into a very popular program that is going to be with us for many years,” Camp says. “We have a list of at least 60 people who want to get in each year for a class of 30.”

Naiop SoCal’s membership is pretty evenly split between office and industrial firms, according to Camp. Thompson notes that in these days of mixed-use projects, public-private partnerships and other new approaches to development, more of its members develop multiple products types, so that Naiop’s role has evolved more into a job of addressing issues that affect a number of different industry segments.

In light of its members’ involvement in a growing number of product types, the group is also “reaching out to other organizations” that share common concerns, as illustrated by Naiop’s role as a sponsors at ICSC, Thompson says. He also points out that the Naiop SoCal works in concert with other chapters, especially the Inland Empire and San Diego groups, because many of the issues that Naiop SoCal addresses “have a broader impact than just what is going on in Los Angeles or Orange County.”

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