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Oakland development is on the rise

A salute to Black History Month Page 10

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February 2015

Chamber looks at Taxation

WOMEN IN BUSINESS Mayor Schaaf to speak April 3


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Oakland Business Review ‘Oakland Advantage’ March 20

Visit for more business opportunities, news and event registration.

> Chamber’s Economic Summit, ‘Oakland Advantage,’ set for March 20 O

AKLAND HAS EXPERIENCED A SIGNIFICANT uptick in entrepreneurial activity over the past few years. From technology and web-based companies to bricks and mortar-type specialized manufacturing; from makers and food production start-ups to social enterprises; from nonprofits and creative, arts-based and design firms to innovative restaurants and nightlife and entertainment venues – a number of entrepreneurs are increasingly choosing to launch and grow their businesses and organizations in Oakland. This emerging “New Economy” builds off of the strong base that the stewards of the local economy, the city’s longstanding existing businesses and industries, have forged over decades of operating in the city and guiding its economic development. Given that context, the Chamber will present its 2015 Economic Summit on the morning on Friday, March 20. The summit will focus on “The Oakland Advantage” as a place to start and grow businesses in Oakland’s New Economy. It will be held at the Oakland Marriott City Center, with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. The summit will begin at 8 a.m. and continue until 11 a.m. Breakfast will be provided. Following a welcome introduction, Garrick Brown, vice president of research, West Region, DTZ (formerly Cassidy Turley), will provide a real estate update, a market overview and trends briefing for the East Bay.

THE OAKLAND ADVANTAGE A place to start and grow businesses in Oakland’s New Economy

> City leadership needs to hear from the business community

by Chairman of the Board Mark Everton

As we enter into 2015, the future of Oakland and the Chamber is very bright; the Chamber’s new President/CEO Barbara Leslie is committed to steering the Chamber through strategic planning for the future. Oakland is poised for new city leadership with a new Mayor, Councilmembers and key city leaders. The economic recovery is full steam ahead with the Brooklyn Basin, Oakland Army Base and Valdez projects all underway. Having worked in Oakland for almost 12 years, I have observed the evolution of its neighborhoods and downtown. As the co-founder of the Oakland Restaurant Association, I have witnessed the emergence of Oakland’s vibrant entertainment and dining scenes. The continuing Mark Everton development and creation of additional Business Improvement Districts throughout Oakland has helped transform the neighborhoods. – continued on page 21


Chamber welcomes new mayor

AKLAND MAYOR Libby Schaaf makes a point to Chamber President Barbara Leslie at a recent Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors meeting. Mayor Schaaf was the guest speaker, and shared her vision and priorities with members of the Board.


The first panel will discuss “Building for Oakland’s Economy,” focusing on ongoing and upcoming infrastructure developments and investments that create the environment to support existing and emerging New Economy businesses. A second panel will focus more specifically on Oakland’s increasingly diverse array of businesses and industries, the pros and cons of operating a business here, and prioritizing actions that can take place to retain the city’s rich and inclusive urban experience – improve existing businesses’ viability and performance and attract more businesses and investment to Oakland. Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics, will close out the event with a special presentation on the “Oakland Indicator Project,” an annual data tool that can allow for a more focused dialog about economic conditions and trends in Oakland and help stakeholders understand how various policy options would impact different parts of the city. The Chamber’s 2015 Economic Summit, “The Oakland Advantage,” will cost $75 per person until March 1. Afterwards, and up until the day of the summit, the price will be $85. Sponsorship tables are also available. To make reservations, visit For more information, contact Alex Boyd, the Chamber’s director of economic development, at aboyd@oaklandcham or at (510) 874-4800, ext. 320.

> Join us for A’s–Red Sox game May 12 The Oakland A’s will arrive in Mesa, Arizona this month to begin preparation for the 2015 season, and the Chamber is already making plans to help cheer them on to more victories once the season begins. The Chamber has reserved tickets for one A’s ▲ Right fielder Josh game this year that should Reddick will lead a new be of particular interest in A’s lineup into the 2015 the Bay Area. On Tuesday season. evening, May 12, join Chamber members and staff at Coliseum for a battle of two exceptional teams – the A’s versus the Boston Red Sox, which now has an outstanding player who formerly played in the Bay Area – San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval. And then, just to make the game even more enticing, the Chamber has acquired reserved seats on the Plaza Level (second deck) overlooking third base. The first pitch is at 7:05 p.m. Tickets for the A’s-Red Sox showdown are just $40 per person ($50 for non-members) and the ticket price is guaranteed – even as regular ticket prices normally increase for this exciting game. To reserve tickets for the May 12 game, visit or contact Hank Masler at (510) 874-4808 or at Help the Chamber cheer the A’s on to victory! ■

April 2010 | 1 April 2010 | 1

> The Year of the Ram It’s the Year of the Ram, and Oakland Chinatown will celebrate with its annual Lunar New Year Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 7 and 8. Continuous live entertainment will be coupled with Asian cultural performances, a number of local vendors, and the Little Prince and Princess Contest. The bazaar, presented by the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, will take place at 9th and Franklin streets and the Pacific Renaissance Plaza. For more information, visitwww.oaklandchinatown ■

> Museum helps celebrate Chinese New Year The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) rings in the Year of the Ram with a day of Asian New Year traditions on Sunday, Feb. 22 from noon to 4:30 p.m. Featuring activities for the entire family, the 14th annual celebration honors California’s diversity and celebrates the many time-honored traditions of Asian communities. The day’s performances and activities feature many talented student groups, including students from the Developing Virtue Secondary School, who will perform an opening lion dance to usher in the New Year and chase away evil spirits, and a lively closing dragon dance. Other performances feature acrobatics performed by “The Happy Chef,” Xia Kemin and his students, known for his comedy/plate-spinning act, K-pop, or Korean pop, dances performed by the Korean Performance Group from UC Berkeley, and Chinese yo-yo tricks performed by students from Foothill High School. Visitors will enjoy traditional music from an array of Asian cultures, including New Year songs performed by the Dharma Realm Chinese Orchestra, a Taiko drumming performance by Jiten Daiko, a 24 Festive Drum performance by Developing Virtue Secondary School, and Samgo-Mu, or Korean Drum Dance, by Ong Dance Company. OMCA continues its tradition of welcoming the deaf and hard of hearing community to this annual celebration, with a New Year craft activity led by the Bay Area Asian Deaf Association, and storytelling with Nan Zhou from DEAF Media. All performances and demonstrations are included with Museum admission. Full program details will be posted at ■

> Wendel, Rosen honored Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP has received first-tier rankings for its Bankruptcy, Construction and Real Estate practices in the fifth annual “Best Law Firms” list, published by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers. Additionally, the firm’s Land Use & Zoning Law and Litigation–Real Estate Practices were awarded second-tier rankings. Inclusion in the “Best Law Firms” listing is based on a process that includes data collection, evaluation and feedback from thousands of clients, lawyers and law firm representatives spanning a wide range of practice areas nationwide. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise. The 2015 rankings are based on the highest number of participating firms and highest number of client ballots on record. In addition to Wendel Rosen’s “Best Law Firms” rankings, five of the firm’s attorneys were recently named to The Best Lawyers in America 2015 – Patricia Curtin, Michael Cooper, Michael Dean, Charles Hansen and Roger Hughes. ■


| OBR Oakland Business Review |

> 2015 – The year of partnership W

E ARE ENERGIZED BY THE partnerships and programming that have kicked off 2015. January was replete with multiple programs and events that convened our members, elected officials, city representatives and community leaders for informative and interactive discussions about key Oakland issues. Thank you to Mayor Schaaf Barbara Leslie and her inaugural committee for engaging the Chamber as host for Oakland’s inaugural week Business Community breakfast. It was truly a new day in Oakland with the broadest range of business representation in one room that I had ever witnessed. Businesses that represent the bedrock of our community like Kaiser, Clorox, Schnitzer Steel, the Port of Oakland and our beloved Oakland A’s supported the event. We also had representatives from some of our fastest growing, emerging industries including Sungevity, Impact HUB, Hack the Hood, Oaklandish, Oakland Grown and the Kapor Center for Social Impact. We also had representatives attending from each of

– by Chamber President and CEO Barbara Leslie

Oakland’s ten Business Improvement Districts. These are the people who manage, guide and support our neighborhood local retail, restaurants and small businesses. And our ethnic Chamber Partners were in full force. These individuals work tirelessly to support their memberships in Oakland and I am so happy that we have strengthened our partnership with them over the past six months. It was a diverse and united group of Oakland businesses all committed to moving Oakland forward. We thank everyone who participated in this unifying event, a positive harbinger for the year to come. Our January Inside Oakland and Economic Development forums also underscored the Chamber’s goal of increased partnerships in 2015. Newly elected City Councilmembers Abel Guillen and Anne Campbell Washington spoke to a packed room of civic minded Chamber members and shared their district priorities and Council goals for the year. And it was standing-room-only at the Economic Development Forum where Oakland Planning and Building Director Rachel Flynn provided an overview of the city’s current projects, those in the pipeline and areas for future development. Along with our ethnic Chambers we held our first

Chamber mixer of 2015. Thank you to AEG for hosting more than 150 local business members who joined the fun while strengthening their local business relationships. And as reported in the last issue of Oakland Business Review, education is everyone’s business. This year the Chamber will deepen our support for and engagement with our regional education partners. We have received a planning grant from the Irvine Foundation to act as fiscal agent and convener to develop and execute a “Linked Learning Hub of Excellence” model that could expand and replicate the successful work being done in the areas of Linked Learning. We are excited and eager to support our partners in the education community in this way and see it as our responsibility to connect our career ready youth with jobs in their community. An exciting start to 2015. Welcome Alex Boyd Alex Boyd, who has more than 11 years Rebecca Pearson of economic development and business strategy consulting experience, has been named the Chamber’s new director of economic development. Alex’s experience in assisting industries and individual firms compete in the global marketplace stands him in good stead to help lead the Chamber and assist our members. He previously held senior consulting positions with IHS Global Insight’s Economic Strategy Solutions group and the Economic Competitiveness Group and has held key roles in a number of regional economic development efforts involving economic analysis, business recruitment/retention, targeted industrial development, entrepreneurship and job creation issues. Help me welcome Alex to the Chamber. Thank you, Starbucks! Starbucks Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz is featured on the cover of the Feb. 5 issue of Time magazine. The article underscores Starbuck’s continued commitment to making positive community change and a dedication to creating opportunities. Howard specifically addresses Starbucks’ role in creating great jobs that include access to education, healthcare and a full suite of benefits, especially for young

FEBRUARY 2015 | 3


> Our local creative economy: Welcoming new advertising firms – by Margot Lederer Prado

Oakland has always fostered a creative economy. It is a city of writers and designers, printers and typographers, musicians, painters and performing artists. Intellectual pursuit combined with artistic inventiveness and multicultural exchange creates a unique spirit of artistic entrepreneurism that thrives in Oakland today. Oakland’s creative economy spurs innovation in technology and science, stimulates economic growth, regenerates and revitalizes neighborhoods, inspires the “next generation” of workers, attracts new population by the “creative class” who appreciate such artistic and creative endeavors, and creates a “buzz,” furthering Oakland’s identity and reputation. This is home to nearly 3,000 creative economy businesses with as many as 10,000 employees and revenue of more than $1.2 billion (estimates, Info USA 2013). The creative economy in Oakland includes more than 8,615 de-

Jon Soto (left) and Nick Cohen of Mad Dogs & Englishmen.

Daniel Stein, founding partner of Evolution Bureau.

signers, 3,420 architects, and 2,695 fine and performing artists (NEA, Artists in the Workforce 1990-2005). The creative economy includes digital and media arts; print and publishing; film, video and recording; art schools and services; makers, industrial art, furnishings, fashion and interior design and fabrication. Our creative economy also includes advertising. The following piece welcomes two exciting advertising firms to Oakland. Look for subsequent articles on other drivers of Oakland’s creative economy. Mad Dogs & Englishmen ( originally started in 1991 in New York City with a sincere interest to create marketing and advertising that was overtly honest, treated people with respect, and didn’t take itself too seriously. Some of their award-winning clients include MTV Networks, The Village Voice, MovieFone, Blue Moon Beer, Jamba Juice and the NFL. They believe a brand’s success or failure is determined by whether it’s genuinely embraced and adopted by the people. With Mad Dogs re-opening its door again, Nick Cohen and Jon Soto are choosing Oakland as their agency base on 17th Street in Uptown. “We love the new energy and optimistic spirit that seems to have grabbed this city,” they say. “It’s a perfect place for makers in all realms, from technology start-ups to industrial innovators. We feel that Oakland has a massive heart and places real importance on people and community. Just like NYC, there’s a real pride about being a part of this city. Just walking around the block is energizing and inspiring.” Another firm we welcome to Oakland this winter is Evolution Bureau ( EVB is a full service advertising agency that was founded in San Francisco in 2000 and currently has about 90 employees. The firm uses creativity, technology and its grasp of culture to help make brands meaningful, profitable and famous. Founding partner and CEO Daniel Stein and President Shane Ginsberg are excited to be part of the environment that is brewing in Oakland. “We see immense opportunity in Oakland right now. The city is really emerging as a hub for the creative community,” said Stein. “We feel like the most interesting part of the Bay Area for companies like ours right now is Uptown Oakland.” EVB will be moving into 15,000 square feet of newly renovated office space on Telegraph Avenue, across from the Fox Theater. The ground floor lobby will also double as a public art gallery. They invite NE IN 10 JOBS participation by local Oakland artists, and in California are also will engage interns in their Oakland part of the creative office. These two firms’ industries. Creative relocation to Oakland only valididates the industries account creative foundation of Oakland – the “disrupfor 7.8 percent of tive DNA” of our community. We welcome California’s GDP. The Mad Dogs and Englishment and Evolucreative industries of tion Bureau’s creative contributions, emCalifornia generated ployment and community spirit to Uptown $273.5 billion in total this winter. ■


(direct, indirect, and

Margot Lederer Prado is a senior business development specialist for the city of Oakland.

induced) output. They employed 1.4 million workers who earned $99.3 billion in labor income.” (2014 Otis Art Institute, California Creative Economy Report)


| OBR Oakland Business Review |


> Development is on the rise in Oakland by Rachel Flynn AIA

This is Oakland’s time. After years of waiting for the economy to rebound – it finally has. New opportunities in real estate development and job growth for Oakland are presenting themselves every day. Last month, our unemployment rate dipped to 7.8 percent, the lowest in years. In regards to development, the city issued nearly 15,000 building permits in 2014, approaching pre-2007 levels. And applications for new development are increasing just as rapidly. While Oakland does not have multiple cranes in the sky, like San Francisco, I believe that we soon will. This prediction is based on the high level of interest we are receiving from developers, investors, and business owners. For example, nearly 11,000 housing units are in the “pipeline” – meaning that developers have approached the city with their projects – and are beginning or completing the approval process. Development in Oakland is percolating. Expect results in 2015. Why the renewed interest in Oakland? One reason is a renewed in-

▲ Major development & 19th Street (adjacent to the Fox Theater). projects like Brooklyn Final approvals for these projects will be made Basin (above) will help in the coming months. spur economic develop3) The city has committed 25 percent of its ment. “boomerang funds” to affordable housing. In addition, an Affordable Housing Impact Fee Nexus Study for private development is underway. An appropriately calculated impact fee would provide funds to build affordable housing, but not hinder private development. 4) Major development projects like Brooklyn Basin and catalyst projects like the Henry J. Kaiser Center on Lake Merritt, the former Sears building in Uptown and Central Station in West Oakland will spur economic development. Revitalization of these long vacant historic structures will bring new life, jobs, and visitors – not only to the buildings themselves – but their surrounding neighborhoods as well. Both the public and private sectors are stepping up to the plate to ensure that we maximize this moment. Market rates are very favorable, numerous investments are underway, and new interest in Oakland is increasing. Stay tuned, this will be an exciting year for our city. ■ Rachel Flynn AIA is the director of Oakland’s Planning & Building Department and is acting director of the Economic & Workforce Development Department.

terest in cities in general and all the vitality and interest they offer. More and more people are interested in living in, working in, and visiting urban areas – particularly baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) and millennials (born between 1982 and 2000). Today’s young people are urbanists and they are choosing places like Oakland. In addition, there is Oakland’s authenticity – or as Mayor Schaaf likes to say – our “secret sauce” – which makes us unique. Innovative and creative things are happening in Oakland – in art, food, public policy, technology, and in all our economic sectors. New residents and new companies are drawn to Oakland’s creativity, diversity, and high quality of life. When you think about it, Oakland has it all: natural beauty, an ideal location, desirable weather, a strong economy, competitive rents, accessible public transit, and scores of activities related to cultural arts, entertainment and recreation. Not many cities can claim such assets. Oakland’s appeal has created a strong demand for new housing – at all income levels. The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) predicts that we will grow from 406,000 residents (2014 estimated figure) to 440,000 by 2020. While this is an ambitious prediction, it reflects the population we could absorb, if we were building new housing to keep up with demand. Doing so would also keep existing housing affordable because demand would be met through newly constructed housing, not existing. So what is the city doing about this? Well, a variety of things: 1) approving Specific Plans to expedite development, 2) selling/leasing city properties for new development, 3) committing to affordable housing, and 4) ensuring that major development projects and catalyst projects get approved. 1) In the past several months, City Council has adopted four new Specific Plans: Chinatown/Lake Merritt, Broadway-Valdez, West Oakland, and the Central Estuary. These approvals clear the way for developers to build without having to seek rezoning or EIR approval. Both are costly and time-consuming endeavors. These community-led efforts have incorporated the vision of our citizens to ensure that Oakland’s character is maintained and complemented. 2) The city is moving forward with development projects on key parcels it owns to further the revitalization efforts in key areas. The vacant parcels at Clay & 11th (adjacent to the Convention Center), and 12th Street & 2nd Avenue (at Lake Merritt) are being considered for highdensity, mixed-use projects. In response to our recent RFP, the city received eight strong proposals for a residential/hotel project at Telegraph

▲ Rachel Flynn (right) and Marisa Raya discussed current efforts to prepare an economic development strategy for the city of Oakland at the Chamber’s recent Economic Development Forum.

FEBRUARY 2015 | 5


| OBR Oakland Business Review |

Member update

> DIRECTORY ADDENDUM The following is a list of new members of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and is an addendum to the Chamber’s 2015 Membership Directory & Buyers Guide. Please keep this page and refer to these members when you have a need for goods and services. AERC Recycling Solutions 1475 Crocker Ave. Hayward, CA 94545 Phone: (510) 429-1129 Fax: (510) 429-1498 Robert Rivera Website: Recycling Services Aroma Cafe 1900 Franklin St. Oakland, CA 94612 Phone: (510) 763-3930 Fax: (510) 763-3955 Emile Wahbeh Email: Website: Restaurant Coder for Rent, LLC 401 Grand Ave., Suite 450 Oakland, CA 94610 Phone: (510) 209-3656 Jacqueline Sloves Website: Computer Resource & Education Copy Station Inc. 1970 Broadway, Suite 150 Oakland, CA 94612 Phone: (510) 433-0550 Fax: (510) 433-0570 Sabia Haygood Website: Printers Cowan Success Solutions Consulting 669 45th St., Apt. B Oakland, CA 94609 Phone: (510) 852-9473 Melvin Cowan Website: Consultants Dinner For You 3419 68th Ave. Oakland, CA 94605 Phone: (510) 938-4996 Georgia Illani Buie Email: Website: Hospitality DZH Phillips 1330 Broadway, Suite 630 Oakland, CA 94612 Phone: (510) 834-6542 Fax: (510) 834-2556 Deborah Kaminski Email: Website: Accountants Economic & Planning Systems, Inc. One Kaiser Plaza, Suite 1410 Oakland, CA 94612 Phone: (510) 841-9190 Jim Musbach Website: Consultants

NEW MEMBER PROFILES Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University 7700 Edgewater Drive, Suite 816 Oakland, CA 94621 Phone: (510) 636-2424 Anthony Mwangi Schools – Universities & Colleges Hadden Real Estate 7886 Sunkist Drive Oakland, CA 94605 Phone: (510) 305-0145 Fax: (510) 635-7294 Patricia Hadden Website: Real Estate Hospital Council 3480 Buskirk Ave., Suite 205 Pleasant Hill, CA 94523 Phone: (925) 786-5108 Fax: (925) 746-2401 Rebecca Rozen Email: Website: Nonprofit Jack London Improvement District 333 Broadway Oakland, CA 94607 Phone: (510) 267-0858 Savlan Hauser Website: Nonprofit Jamie Flaherty-Evans / Colliers International 1999 Harrison St., Suite 1750 Oakland, CA 94610 Phone: (510) 334-8606 Fax: (510) 986-6775 Jamie Flaherty-Evans Website: Real Estate Kittelson & Associates, Inc. 155 Grand Ave., Suite 900 Oakland, CA 94612 Phone: (510) 839-1742 Fax: (510) 839-0871 Mike Aronson Website: Transportation Engineering, Planning & Research Services Kos-Read Group 347 Wayne Ave. Oakland, CA 94606 Phone: (510) 292-5715 Isaac Kos-Read Email: Website: Public Affairs, Strategic Communications, Public Relations Prime Cap Lending LLC 1300 Clay St., Suite 600 Oakland, CA 94612 Phone: (510) 677-2724 Tiffany Sanders Website: Mortgage Loans T-Mobile Industries 1855 Gateway Blvd., Suite 900 Concord, CA 94520 Phone: (925) 787-9769 Edgar Vargas Cellular Mobile Telephone Communications ■

CODER CAMPS New Chamber member Coder Camps is a nine-week computer programming “boot camp” that prepares students to enter the workforce as software engineers. It’s one of the first computer programming intensive training courses in the East Bay. The curriculum covers the latest technologies in fullstack development, from JavaScript on the front-end to Microsoft's ASP.NET on the back-end. Originally founded in Houston two years ago, it has now expanded the courses from coast to coast. The demand for programmers is enormous – especially here in Northern California – the mecca of technology. Coder Camps could be the first step toward a new career path with job security and more opportunities. You don't need any previous programming knowledge to succeed – a three-week “Coding from Scratch” program is available that teaches the rudimentary basics. Find out more information and apply online at or call (510) 761-8176. ■

DZH PHILIPS DZH Phillips is one of the largest regionally based accounting and advisory firms in the San Francisco Bay Area. With offices in both San Francisco and Oakland and backed by more than 30 years of industry knowledge and experience, its staff is attuned to your most critical opportunities and challenges. When you choose a CPA, there are certain things you expect: audit and accounting services, tax planning and preparation, retirement and long-term financial planning advice. But if your CPA stops here, they’re not giving you what you deserve. Our goal is to help you prosper and grow. ■

FEBRUARY 2015 | 7


Small Business


> Increases in minimum wage

and paid sick leave by Christine Noma

The voters in Oakland passed Measure FF, which effective as of March 2, 2015, increases the minimum wage to $12.25, mandates up to nine days (or 72 hours) of paid sick leave, and restricts hospitality employers from withholding service fees from employees. The following are some key highlights: Oakland minimum wage • Starting March 2, 2015, the minimum wage Christine Noma within the city will be $12.25 • Commencing Jan. 1, 2016 and annually thereafter, the minimum wage will be increased by the increase in the cost of living. • The cost of living increase will be based upon the Consumer Price Index for urban and clerical workers for the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose area. • Employers: Any employer, including temporary agencies, are subject to the new law. • Employees: Any employee who performs at least two hours of work per week within the city, including part-time and seasonal employees, must be paid the minimum wage. Paid sick leave • Starting March 2, 2015, most employers must provide employees with up to 72 hours of paid sick leave. • Employees: Any employee who performs at least two hours of work per week within the city; part-time and seasonal employees can accrue paid sick leave. • Accrual of sick leave: Hours accrue at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. • Cap of sick leave: For small employers with less than 10 employees, which includes employees working outside of Oakland, sick leave can be capped at 40 hours; for all other employers, sick leave can be capped at 72 hours. • Carry over: No “use it or lose it” allowed. Sick leave carries over year to year, but can be capped. • No cash out: Sick leave cannot be “cashed out” annually. However, unused sick leave does not need to be paid out upon termination, resignation or retirement. • When can employees use sick leave: Employees are not entitled to use the sick leave until after 90 calendar days of employment. • What can sick leave be used for: Sick leave can be used for personal illness, to care for a child, parent, legal guardian or ward, sibling, grandparent or grandchild, spouse, domestic partner or any other designated person – if the employee has no spouse or domestic partner, each year, within a 10-day period, the employee can designate one person in lieu of spouse/domestic partner. • No medical certification required: There is no requirement for a doctor’s note, but “reasonable verification” can be required. • Request: The request can be verbal, but the employer can require reasonable advance notice of what the leave will be used for. • No replacement worker: The employee cannot be required to find a replacement worker.

Service charges • Hospitality employers who collect service charges from customers must pay those charges to the hospitality workers who performed those services. • Hospitality employers: Persons who own or operate any part of a hotel, restaurant or banquet facility, but does not include any government agency employer. • Hospitality worker: Does not include a managerial employee. • Supervisors may only be paid part of the service charges if he/she performed nonsupervisory work serving customers, but at no higher rate than the average of what is paid to other workers performing similar customer services. • Payment of services charges must be distributed not later than the next payroll following the collection of the service charge or the work, whichever is later. • Services charges must be paid to the hospitality worker who actually performed the work associated with the charge. • Tip/gratuity: The payment of service charges does not apply to any tip or gratuity paid, left or given to the hospitality worker.

8 | OBR Oakland Business Review |

Employer obligations • Notice to employees: Employers must give written notice to each employee of his/her rights under this law. • Notices must be in the language spoken by more than 10 percent of the employees. • Record retention: Employers must retain records for at least three years for each employee of his/her name, hours worked, pay rate, paid sick leave accrual and usage and service charge collected and distributed. Employers must provide a copy of the record upon the employee’s request. Enforcement • City access: Employers must permit access to the work site and records to city representatives for purpose of monitoring and investigating complaints. • Enforcement: Employees may file a complaint with the city and within 120 days of being notified of the complaint, it is unlawful for an employer to fire, retaliate or discriminate against the employee for making the complaint. • Noncompliance: The city may consider noncompliance as a factor in its decisions on contracts, land use approvals and other entitlements. • Private right of action: Employee may file a complaint in a court of law and may seek injunctive relief, back pay, reinstatement or any other remedy at law, including civil penalties of up to $1,000 per violation. If the employee prevails, the employee may also recover attorneys’ fees and costs. However, the employer cannot recover its attorneys’ fees and costs. ■ Christine Noma is a partner in the Employment Practice Group at the Oakland law firm of Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP. She can be reached at (510) 834-6600 or


> Four sales myths debunked by Joe Diliberto

Every profession has its own lineup of myths that need busting. Those who have spent the majority of their career in a sales role have heard them all. The fact is that being in sales is exciting, sometimes grueling and often a rewarding profession. We’re the frontline of an organization and vital to its growth. However, like it or not, many myths exist about who the “ideal” salesperson is and what a career in sales is like. The following four myths are among some Joe Diliberto of the most popular assumptions about the sales profession. Can you think of any other myths that need bursting? Myth # 1: Sales people need to be extroverts. Reality: Contrary to popular belief, introverts excel at selling, too. While it’s not always the case, introverts tend to be better listeners, more understanding and more focused on others. Here at Sandler Training, we believe that sales professionals can be trained to overcome their inherent introverted tendencies through reinforcing behaviors, attitudes and techniques. Myth #2: The gift of gab is all you need to be good at sales. Reality: The phrase “telling is not selling” is a classic among the Sandler community. That’s because successful salespeople know that the prospect should be doing at least 80 percent of the talking, while the salesperson fills in the remaining 20 percent with questions, restating what they’re hearing and finding their way to a prospect’s pain. Myth #3: If you do a good job, referrals come to you. Reality: While word-of-mouth referrals leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, they often are few and far between and can’t be counted on for a steady flow of business. When asking for referrals, the key is to explain how you work with clients and describe your ideal prospect. Otherwise, it is hard for your referral source to envision someone who could be right for you. Myth # 4: Selling is a one-person job. Reality: Sandler believes that selling is a team activity. A smart salesperson relies on several people throughout the sales process. Whether you’re working on marketing on a sales piece, bouncing a tactic off a peer, seeking counsel from a sales manager or consulting with a trainer, selling is far from a one-person job. ■ Joe Diliberto is the president of Sandler Training, serving the San Francisco Bay Area. He can be reached at (510) 967-7446 or email at joediliberto@ Visit his website at


Small Business


> Security and data breaches

Readiness is the most important step. It’s critical to have a readyto-use incident response plan, an on-call forensics expert and a privacy attorney on retainer ensuring an organization is ready to mitigate the effects of the breach and deter any potential litigation. ■

by Rebecca Pearson

Security and data breaches don’t favor one organization or industry over another, and are taking place every day. Companies should consider the “how” of a breach to evaluate their exposure to a similar event. Retail operations remain a target to hackers due to the volume of information in their systems, including credit card information, confidential information for loyalty programs, and employee data. The victims of these attacks are an organization’s most valued assets: their employees and customers. Until recently, many thought data risk was trivRebecca Pearson ial compared to other threats such as theft, workplace injury or violence. But with data compromises occurring more frequently, it’s one risk you don’t want to underestimate. Five myths you can’t afford to believe: 1. Network security and data privacy is only a problem for large companies. Data privacy is a concern for organizations of any size. Rogue employees, data thieves, and unscrupulous business associates are looking for opportunities to take advantage of any weakness or mistake. 2. We can afford to self-insure the risk. With greater demands on limited budgets, many organizations knowingly go bare, believing that if something happens, they can afford to cover the costs. According to a recent Ponemon Institute study, the average cost for a relatively small breach event of 1,000 records could easily exceed $200,000 – a sum that many agencies cannot easily absorb. 3. Coverage is expensive and hard to get. Competition, claims experience, and a larger pool of buyers have made network security and privacy liability coverage more cost effective and easier to obtain. 4. Our general liability policy will cover us. General liability insurance typically covers bodily injury and property damage. The courts have consistently ruled that data is not property and is considered intangible. If you don’t carry specialized coverage for financial injury arising from a failure of security or a failure to protect confidential information, you could be exposed. 5. We have vendors who handle our sensitive information and credit card transactions; if they have a breach, it’s their problem, not ours. This is not generally true. The data owner (the person or entity collecting the data) is ultimately responsible for what happens to that data. Therefore, a breach at a trusted contractor still triggers your notification obligations – this risk can’t be transferred to that vendor partner. Managing breaches in California There are 47 states and several U.S. territories that have enacted security breach notification legislation in response to recent breach events. In California, a breach is defined as an unauthorized acquisition of computerized data that compromises security, confidentiality or integrity of personal information (PI). Following discovery of the breach, California law requires a business or state agency to notify any California resident who’s PI is reasonably believed to have been acquired in the most expedient time possible and without undue delay.

Rebecca Pearson is a technology privacy and network risk practice leader for Wells Fargo Insurance. She has 11 years of experience providing consultative services, market negotiations, policy analysis and placement, policy administration, and claims advocacy services to support her customers and advise on data risk. She can be reached at (415) 541-7177 or at License #0D08408.


> New Laws Impacting Employers By Andrew Shalauta and Evelin Y. Bailey

Employers need to act now to ensure compliance with several new employment laws that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2015 which will require businesses to adopt or change employer policies and/or practices. The biggest game changer is mandatory sick pay. The law goes into effect on July 1, 2015 and allows employees up to three (3) paid sick days (or 24 hours) in a 12-month period for the diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition or preventative care for the employee or the employee’s family members. Paid sick leave can also be taken for other purposes related to being a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. Part-time, extra help, temporary or seasonal employees may be entitled to paid sick leave. The Labor Commissioner can issue penalties for employer violations under this new law. As of Jan. 1, employers are required to post in a conspicuous place at the workplace, a poster containing the information regarding mandatory sick pay. The Labor Commissioner’s website has a copy of the poster, wage notice and answers to frequently asked questions available on their website. The following is a highlight of some other significant employment law changes in 2015. • Businesses will now automatically share liability with a “labor contractor,” if the contractor fails to pay wages or provide workers’ compensation insurance to its employees who are assigned to work at the business. • There is now a three-year statute of limitations to recover liquidated damages for minimum wage violations. • The California Fair Employment and Housing Act now protects volunteers and unpaid interns from discrimination and harassment. • Employers must now “include prevention of abusive conduct as a component” of required sexual harassment training. “Abusive conduct” is defined as “conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests. Abusive conduct may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance. • Employers are prohibited from discriminating and retaliating against employees who enroll in the Medi-Cal program and from refusing to hire a beneficiary for reason of being enrolled in the Medi-Cal program. • Employers cannot discriminate or retaliate against an employee who updates his or her personal information “based on a lawful change of name, social security number, or federal employment authorization document.” Victims of unfair immigration-related practices can bring civil actions for damages, penalties, or equitable relief. However, employers must still comply with federal law prohibiting the hiring or continuing to employ unauthorized workers. For a more comprehensive list of the new employment laws, including mandatory sick pay leave, visit Burnham Brown’s website – www.burnham ■

FEBRUARY 2015 | 9

Celebrate Black History Month in Oakland In an effort to educate all people about the vast contributions made by African American men and women throughout history, Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson originated “Negro History Week” in 1926. He selected the second week of February for two prominent figures in African American history – both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln were born in that month. In 1976, the event was extended to a full month and “Black History Month” was born. The following is a sampling of Black History Month events in Oakland throughout February. For additional events and information, visit Multi-Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Friday, Feb. 6, 6-10 p.m. Waterfront Hotel, 10 Washington St., Jack London Square The ceremony will include the induction of seven retired professional athletes and honor six community leaders. Info: or (510) 452-2693


New Era/New Politics Walking Tour Saturday, Feb. 7, 10 a.m.-noon Tour begins at African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO), 659 14th St. This free walking tour highlights African-American leaders who helped shape present-day Oakland. Learn how Lionel Wilson, Delilah Beasley, Robert Maynard, Byron Rumford and others changed the city and the Bay Area. Parking is available at Clay Street Garage. Info: or (510) 238-3234


A Thought, A Memory, An Image: The Photography of Joe Schwartz Saturday, Feb. 7 through Saturday, Feb. 28, noon-5:30 p.m. African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO), 659 14th St. Celebrated photographer Joe Schwartz is known for his humanistic photographs that capture interracial harmony in mixed neighborhoods. A large selection of this collection, which documents the virtues of diversity, was photographed between the 1930s and the 1980s. Info: or (510) 637-0200


New Era/New Politics Walking Tour Wednesday, Feb. 11, 10 a.m.-noon Tour begins at African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO), 659 14th St. This free walking tour highlights African-American leaders who helped shape present-day Oakland. Learn how Lionel Wilson, Delilah Beasley, Robert Maynard, Byron Rumford and others changed the city and the Bay Area. Parking is available at Clay Street Garage. Info: or (510) 238-3234


“We Are All African” film screening and book signing Saturday, Feb. 14, 2-4 p.m. African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO), 659 14th St. Author Kwadwo Obeng shares his in-depth research on the teachings of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions from an African perspective. Disclaimer: the film/book presented does not necessarily reflect the views held by AAMLO or the city of Oakland. Info: or (510) 637-0200


Love, Gratitude and Ancestry: Screening of “Belle” Sunday, Feb. 15, 12:30-2:30 p.m. New Parkway Theatre, 474 24th St. In honor of Black History Month and 25 years of providing services to Oakland’s youth, families and adults, Attitudinal Healing Connection will be screening “Belle.” This powerful movie was nominated for the NAACP image award for Best Film and Best Actress. It is based on a true story about a mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral, raised by her aristocratic great-uncle in 18th century England. The character finds love despite the challenges of the racial, social and political order.


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Afterwards, join in a meaningfuldiscussion about the movie. Info: or (510) 652-5530 New Era/New Politics Walking Tour Wednesday, Feb. 18, 10 a.m.-noon Tour begins at African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO), 659 14th St. This free walking tour highlights African-American leaders who helped shape present-day Oakland. Learn how Lionel Wilson, Delilah Beasley, Robert Maynard, Byron Rumford and others changed the city and the Bay Area. Parking is available at Clay Street Garage. Info: or (510) 238-3234


Festival of Knowledge Friday, Feb. 20, 6-8 p.m. African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO), 659 14th St. AAMLO is celebrating health and vitality at the 2015 Festival of Knowledge. Have you experienced difficulty concentrating? No sleep, no energy? Remember, we are what we eat. Keep those brain cells lively – learn about growing organic food at home, acquire new cooking skills and sample healthy foods. Info: or (510) 637-0200


Mindful Drumming: Tapping Into Our Love Essence Saturday, Feb. 21, 3:30-6:30 p.m. Attitudinal Healing Connection, Inc., 3278 West St. Mindful Drumming is a transformative learning process that offers individuals opportunities to experience diversity through rhythm and sound. Issues can be addressed in a communal manner through the art of synchronistic drumming. In a primal way we may never fully understand, drumming brings us into rhythm with self, one another, our community and our planet. Participants will utilize the twin concepts of rhythm and sound as a way of raising awareness and consciousness for a rich experience of love, joy and peace. There will be drums available. Kokomon Clottey, author of “Mindful Drumming: Ancient Wisdom for Unleashing the Human Spirit and Building Community,” will facilitate this gathering. Info: or (510) 652-5530


Healing Justice: A Conversation Wednesday, Feb. 25, 7-9 p.m. Student Union, Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd. Join in an intimate evening with visionary healers and spiritual warriors Reverend Zenju Earhlynn Manuel and Dr. Arisika Razak, in conversation with anti-violence activist Alisa Bierria. Healing justice is a framework that identifies holistic responses to intergenerational trauma and violence. In this conversation, we ask what individual and collective practices can be generated to transform the consequences of oppression on our bodies, hearts and minds. Info: graduate/eths/blackhistorymonth.php or (510) 430-2080


New Era/New Politics Walking Tour Saturday, Feb. 28, 10 a.m.-noon Tour begins at African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO), 659 14th St. This free walking tour highlights African-American leaders who helped shape present-day Oakland. Learn how Lionel Wilson, Delilah Beasley, Robert Maynard, Byron Rumford and others changed the city and the Bay Area. Parking is available at Clay Street Garage. Info: or (510) 238-3234


Black History Docent Tour Saturday, Feb. 28, 10 a.m.-noon Mountain View Cemetery, 5000 Piedmont Ave. Historic Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland is the final resting place of many important members of the Bay Area’s African-American community. A special docent tour of the cemetery highlights the lives of community leaders such as Captain William Shorey, Alonzo and Jennie Prentiss, Lydia Flood Jackson, Glen Burke, William B. Rumford, W.A. Gordon and Marcus Foster. Because of the large area the tour spans, we will car caravan to the various locations. Info: or (510) 658-2588 ■



Finance and Taxation

> A look at 2014 tax highlights – by Jamshed B. Gandi Short sales of homes

The IRS recently ruled that the forgiven debt arising from a short sale in California is not treated as income, but is included as sales proceeds in determining the gain or loss on sale. If the house qualifies as a principal residence, the $500,000 exclusion for married couples could be utilized. Jamshed B. Gandi Personal service companies

These entities are taxed at a flat rate of 35 percent, if certain activities constitute personal services (such as law, health, engineering, architecture, consulting, performing arts, actuarial science), where 95 percent of the income is from such sources, and 95 percent of the stock is owned by the employees performing the services. A court recently held that in the instance where a subsidiary was acquired, a consolidated return was filed for tax purposes. This consolidated return filing disqualified the combined consolidated entity from being categorized as a Personal Service Company, because the total of the consolidated income related to the personal services was less than 95 percent. The Affordable Care Act

for their California tax returns. The credit may not reduce tax below the tentative minimum tax or the alternative minimum tax. Unused credits may be carried forward for up to six years. The fund has a contribution limit of up to $500 million for all taxpayers, plus any previously uncertified or unallocated amounts from prior years. Applications for allocation must be submitted by Dec. 31 of the year for which the credit will be claimed, although contributions to the fund do not need to be submitted that same year. For example, if a taxpayer applies for the credit on Dec. 1, 2014 and receives an allocation from the California Educational Facilities Authority Jan. 2, 2015, they may make a contribution in 2015 and still be allowed to claim the federal deduction and state credit. The California Educational Facilities Authority (CEFA) will send a notice of “Allocation Reservation” within ten days of receiving the application. The contribution and the Contribution Submittal Form must be received by the CEFA within 20 days from the date of the Allocation Reservation. The CEFA must issue a “College Access Tax Credit Certification” within 15 days of receipt of the contribution and Contribution Submittal Form. For more information or to apply for the credit, visit www.trea While it is now too late to contribute for the 2014 tax year, applications for 2015 open on March 2, 2015. ■ Andrew Lasley is a tax shareholder with RINA Accountancy Corporation.

This is due to be tested yet again in the Supreme Court. At issue is the coverage afforded by Federal Exchanges as opposed to State Exchanges. The court is due to decide on the issue, which will have a major impact if it holds out that credits aren’t available for workers in states with federally run exchanges. In this instance, the employer mandate would be severely impacted. ■ Jamshed B. Gandi is a tax shareholder with RINA Accountancy Corporation.

> California’s new personal

and corporate tax credit – by Andrew Lasley

If you live in California, you likely know about the ever-increasing college tuition fees at universities throughout the state. California has decided to

Andrew Lasley

create a new personal and corporate tax credit for the tax years 2014 through 2016 for contributions made to the College Access Tax Credit Fund. Amounts contributed will be used to provide Cal Grants to low-income college

students. Taxpayers who make contributions to the fund will receive certification and receive a credit for 60 percent of the amount contributed in 2014, with amounts decreasing to 55 percent in 2015, and 50 percent for the 2016 tax year. Taxpayers who claim the credit will be able to take a charitable contribution deduction on their federal income tax return, but may not claim a deduction

FEBRUARY 2015 | 11


Finance and Taxation

> Secrets to producing meaningful financial statements

– by Tom Li

Many businesses find it difficult to produce financial statements. Others find it difficult to do it on a timely basis, while others find it difficult to do it at a reasonable cost.



be provided with the steps to easily do all of the above.

STEP 1. DATA ENTRY Data entry must be complete, timely, consistent and accurate. You can enter the data yourself, hire an employee or outsource it. Data entry is the foundation of your accounting system Tom Li and process. It may seem simple enough, but having the wrong person entering data can create a costly problem to resolve later. This is why good bookkeepers are expensive and hard to find! • Completeness is critical. The worst case scenario is to find a set of accounting records half completed. Whoever inherits this has to determine which transactions have been entered and which have not. Whether you plan to enter your own data, assign it to an employee or outsource it, it is important to be complete in your data entry.

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• Timeliness. Entering transactions on a timely basis will create more accurate and timely financial statements. As time passes, the recollection of transactions will start to fade, documents disappear, etc. • Consistency. Be consistent in how data is input. Let’s assume you enter all Mac Airbook purchases into an expense line item named “office expense.” These purchases would be most likely considered an asset and not an expense, but at least they are all located in one type of expense rather than everywhere. • Accuracy. Be accurate. Incorrect data entry into an accounting system can be costly and produce incomplete results. It can take two to ten times longer to find and correct errors than the time used to enter the data correctly in the first place. STEP 2. PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTANT Find a good professional accountant. Your accountant’s role should not just be preparing the tax return. They should be – continued on page 13


Finance and Taxation

– continued from page 12

involved in reviewing the work of your bookkeeper or the person doing the data input. Your CPA should be your partner in analyzing the results. Finding the right CPA can be complicated. The best approach is to find a firm or an individual who is the best fit for your business at the time. When a company is getting off the ground, the best fit may be a person or firm who can prepare your tax returns at the lowest possible price. But as your company grows, it may need help with general accounting and developing accounting processes. Perhaps tax issues become more complicated and tax planning is needed. The solo CPA specializing in preparing low-cost tax returns may not be the best fit. They may not be experts in tax planning or in developing accounting processes, and this is when a mid-sized CPA firm can be a better fit. A mid-sized firm will have a more specialized staff to better serve all of your accounting needs.

tently been named one of the “Best Places to Work in the North Bay” by North Bay Business Journal and a “Top Corporate Philanthropist” by the San Francisco Business Times since 2003. Staying true to its original mission, the bank has given back to the community with nearly $4 million in financial contributions to local nonprofits over 25 years. Bank employees also volunteer more than 10,000 hours a year and are actively involved as board members on more than 60 nonprofit organizations. “Bank of Marin has always been about building strong relationships with our customers and employees, and reinvesting in the communities we serve,” said Russell A. Colombo, president and chief executive officer. “We have enjoyed 25 successful years because we are committed to measured growth while staying true to our roots. We look forward to continuing to serve our communities for many more years to come.” ■

STEP 3. SOFTWARE Find the right software. This is critical because it is the tool your company will use to process, collect and report business transactions. There are now plenty of choices including cloud-based solutions which minimize start-up costs, increase availability and outsource that dreaded responsibility of backups and disaster recovery. This is a strategic decision which you should discuss with your CPA. Too many businesses choose programs like QuickBooks without giving it much thought. Think about the features you want today and two to three years into the future. Your business may change in ways you did not anticipate and the required feature set may change too. You can quickly outgrow the software. Choose wisely. If you can address these topics, then your odds of producing meaningful financial statements will increase dramatically. If you have deficiencies in these areas, it is critical to address them now as they will only become worse with time. Remember, this is the dashboard of your business, similar to your car’s dashboard. Without timely, meaningful information, it’s difficult to drive your business in the right direction. ■ Tom Li is a director at DZH Phillips LLP, which has an office in Oakland. He can be reached at (415) 655-2212 or at

> Bank of Marin celebrates 25 years in business On Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, Bank of Marin celebrated 25 years in business. Founded in 1990 by William P. Murray, Jr. and a group of local Marin business leaders and based on principles of community banking and legendary service, the bank has grown from branches in San Rafael and Corte Madera to $1.8 billion in assets and 20 offices across five counties including Marin, Sonoma, Napa, San Francisco and Alameda. Ten offices are located throughout Marin with the corporate headquarters based in Novato. Bank of Marin has received numerous accolades during its history, including being ranked a “Top 200 Community Bank” by American Banker Magazine. The bank has consis-

FEBRUARY 2015 | 13


Finance and Taxation

> Work for yourself? Four retirement plan options

– by Robert “Bob” Griffin, CPA

According to a 2014 report by the Social Security Administration, the combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds are projected to become depleted in 2033. The DI Trust Fund is projected to become depleted in 2016.



well-advised to accumulate our own funds for retirement. While employees have access to 401(k) plans, the self-employed are not so fortunate. This self-employed workforce has to take the initiative to save for their retirement – and Robert “Bob” Griffin that is far trickier than simply signing up for a company 401(k) plan. The self-employed have to sift through an array of options – SEPS, SIMPLEs, solo 401(k)s – while avoiding the come-ons from brokers and others eager to push complex retirement plans that might be little more than life insurance products that may consume a good chunk of their savings in commissions and fees. The good news is, whether you are self-employed or just have income from freelance work outside your regular job, there are savings plans for individuals that are simple to set up and run – and they can save you thousands of dollars in taxes while boosting your nest egg. Thanks to several legislative changes over the years, self-employed individuals now have plenty of retirement plan choices on the table, just like the bigwigs in corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies (LLCs). Here are four popular items on the menu for selfemployed individuals. 1. SEPs – Usually, a self-employed individual will adopt the IRA version of the Simplified Employee Pension (SEP), although a SEP-401(k) is a possible alternative. Any other employees must be covered. You generally contribute to the plan based on a percentage of compensation, up to the tax law limits, although annual contributions are not required. Deductible SEP contributions cannot exceed the lesser of 25 percent of the employee’s compensation or $53,000 in 2015. As with all qualified plans, the maximum compensation taken into account in 2015 is limited to $265,000. 2. SIMPLE – A Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) is only available to a business with 100 or fewer employees and no other retirement plan. You must make a matching contribution equal to a certain portion or percentage of the employee’s contribution or a minimum non-elective contribution for all plan participants. As with SEPs, you can use an IRA or 401(k) version. For 2015, you can contribute up to $12,500 to a SIMPLE ($15,500 if age 50 or older). Bonus: You do not have to file an annual return for the plan. 3. Solo 401(k) plans – This plan may cover a business owner with no other employees (not counting

14 | OBR Oakland Business Review |

your spouse). Generally, the rules and requirements for traditional 401(k) plans apply. For instance, a self-employed individual can defer up to $18,000 in 2015 ($24,000 if age 50 or older), while overall deductible contributions for this defined contribution plan, including matching contributions, cannot exceed the lesser of 25 percent of compensation or $53,000 ($59,000 if age 50 or older). Edge: Because the percentage part of the annual contribution limit does not apply to solo 401(k)s, this vehicle may be preferable to others. 4. Keogh plans – This “dinosaur” was initially designed to be the main qualified retirement plan for self-employed individuals, but it is still kicking around. There are two main types: defined-contribution Keoghs and defined-benefit Keoghs. The basic rules for these types of plans apply, but with a twist: the annual contribution limit is based on “earned income” instead of “compensation” and thus effectively reduces the percentage cap for self-employed individuals. In contrast with defined-contribution plans (see above), in 2015 a defined-benefit plan may provide an annual retirement benefit equal to the lesser of 100 percent of earned income for the three highest-paid years or $210,000. In summary – when choosing a retirement plan option for yourself, be sure to investigate the possibilities. Then you can make a well-informed decision that is suitable for your situation. Should you wish to discuss these options please contact our office at (510) 893-8115. Our website is ■ Robert “Bob” Griffin, CPA, is the managing partner of Williams Adley & Company-CA, LLP, located in downtown Oakland.


Finance and Taxation

> 2015 tax deduction, exemption and credit update

– by Doug Regalia

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced its annual adjustments for 2015 tax provisions. Many are different than last year, but some remain unchanged.


Doug Regalia


amounts listed below have nothing to do with preparing your 2014 personal tax return this spring. These amounts are valuable now in budgeting and tax planning for next tax year. Let’s look at the changes to basic deductions and expenses as well as specific ones detailed by category.

BASIC DEDUCTIONS AND EXEMPTIONS • Standard deductions – Everyone will see increases, with the single exemption rising from $6,200 to $6,300; married filing jointly going from $12,400 to $12,600; and head of household increasing from $9,100 to $9,250. • Personal exemption – This basic exemption is set to increase slightly in 2015, from $3,950 up to $4,000. The personal exemption will phase out for single taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $258,250 and $309,900 for married filing jointly. The personal exemption is completely lost at $380,750 and $432,400 for single and married filing jointly, respectively. • Alternative minimum tax exemptions – The AMT exemption amount increases for 2015. For individuals it rises $800 from $52,800 in 2014 up to $53,600; for joint filers, the increase is $1,300 from $82,100 in 2014 up to $83,400 for 2015.

federal estate taxes will increase by $90,000 from $5,340,000 in 2014 up to $5,430,000 for 2015. RETIREMENT ITEMS • Elective retirement contribution limits – Employee participants in 401(k), 403(b) and most 457 plans will see a $500 increase in their contribution limit from $17,500 in 2014 to $18,000 in 2015. Similarly, the catch-up contribution limit for employees age 50 and up in these same plans also increases by $500 from $5,500 in 2014 to $6,000 in 2015. • IRA contributions – IRA contribution limits remain the same as 2014 at $5,500 – as does the $1,000 catch up contribution limit for individuals age 50 and above. CLOSING THOUGHTS Remember that these amounts are not related to the tax return you will be filing this upcoming spring, but are useful for financial and tax planning for your 2015 activities. ■ Doug Regalia is a partner with Regalia & Associates, CPAs. He can be reached at (925) 314-0390.

FAMILY AND EDUCATION ITEMS • Kiddie tax – The kiddie tax refers to the amount of unearned net income a child can claim without paying federal income taxes. For 2015, the threshold amount of net income that is not taxed or reported to the IRS rises to $1,050, up from $1,000 in 2014. • Hope Scholarship Credit – The Hope Scholarship Credit does not change for 2015. The credit is calculated as 100 percent of qualified tuition and related expenses up to $2,000, then 25 percent of expenses between $2,000 and $4,000. So, basically the maximum amount of the credit is $2,500. The deduction is available to single taxpayers earning a modified adjusted gross income of less than $80,000; less than $160,000 for taxpayers filing jointly. • Student loan interest deduction – Similarly, the student loan interest deduction for 2015 remains the same, capped at $2,500. The phase outs also are the same as in 2014. Single filers begin to lose this deduction at a modified adjusted gross income of $65,000 and are totally phased out when they reach $80,000. Married filing jointly taxpayers lose a portion of the deduction at $130,000 and completely at $160,000. HEALTH CARE RELATED ITEMS • Flexible Spending Accounts – The FSA account will see a slight increase on the maximum annual employee contribution limit with 2015 being set at $2,550 over the 2014 limit of $2,500. FEDERAL ESTATE TAX ITEMS • Federal estate tax exemption – The basic exclusion for

FEBRUARY 2015 | 15


Finance and Taxation

> Choosing the right tax preparer

– by Mittie Grigsby

Your tax preparation needs will dictate the attributes you look for in a tax preparer. Be aware that not all tax preparers and consultants have the same set of skills and expertise; therefore, not just anyone will do for your particular situation.

W Mittie Grigsby

HETHER YOU ARE IN need of a tax preparer (someone who prepares or reviews your annual tax returns) or a tax consultant (a professional who can assist you with tax planning or tax problem resolution), you are encouraged to do your due diligence and consider the following:

Professional designation If you only require tax preparation you will want to ensure that he or she is properly licensed and trained to prepare taxes. Be sure that your tax preparer is either a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), Enrolled Agent (licensed by the federal government), or a Registered Tax Preparer (certified by the federal government). All tax preparers who are paid to prepare taxes must have one of these designations. If you are unsure, request the preparer’s PTIN number. Need tax planning for your estate or business? Look for a tax professional who specializes in tax planning and strategies. This individual may be a CPA or a tax attorney and can provide insight into and guidance for your future tax issues. Training How many years of experience does the professional have? What is his or her expertise? Is he or her skilled enough to assist you with your complex tax issues?

Integrity We all want to pay the least amount of taxes possible, but we should also ensure that the returns we file are accurate. Choose a professional who prides himself or herself on accurate filings. Be wary of anyone willing to “stretch the truth.” Remember, in the end, it will be you who is responsible for paying the additional taxes, interest and/or penalties. Thoroughness Work with the professional who goes that extra step and interviews you about your situation to ensure he or she is covering all aspects of income, credits and deductions that apply to you. Remember that he or she is the professional and should be able to enlighten you on opportunities to legitimately minimize your tax liability, not the other way around. Accessibility You should be able to contact your tax preparer after you file your return. Be certain that your chosen professional is available to your after the filing of your return to answer questions that may arise as a result of the work performed. Fees Tax professionals are not regulated on what they can charge in fees, so choose a professional whose fee structure fits within your personal or business budget. Be careful not to choose a professional simply for low fees; you want the best professional with the right skill set for your situation to be your first priority. Accuracy and timeliness An accurately and timely prepared tax return can save you time and money! Interview a prospective tax preparer about his or her concern for accuracy and timeliness of filing. Ask if he or she will cover interest and penalty charges if an error on their part results in a late or inaccurate tax filing. Take it upon yourself to do the due diligence necessary to make this tax season a worry-free one, and select and work with a tax professional who cares about you and your business. Report abusive or fraudulent tax preparers You can report abusive preparers and those you suspect of fraud to the IRS by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-8293676). ■ Mittie Grigsby is owner of Grigsby Finance and Tax Services in Oakland, and is an Enrolled Agent, licensed to practice before the IRS. She can be reached at (510) 638-4878.

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Finance and Taxation

> Final tangible property regulations

– by Dennis Kaneshiro

In September 2013 the IRS issued final tangible property regulations. These regulations will affect nearly every taxpayer who uses tangible property in his or her business (including rental property).



history of the Internal Revenue Code, the IRS and taxpayers have been at odds over whether expenditures on tangible property are currently deductible or must be capitalized and depreciated Dennis Kaneshiro over time. To provide guidance and decrease the number of disputes, the IRS issued numerous regulations in this area. In 2003 proposed regulations were issued; in 2008 new proposed regulations were issued; and in 2011 temporary regulations were issued and finally, the final regulations were issued in 2013. The final regulations became effective Jan. 1, 2014 and must be complied with in all tax returns. The final regulations are 222 pages and contain 170 examples. This article is not designed to explain it in its entirety, but to give an overview of what the regulations contain. The final tangible property regulations will: • Provide definitions as to what are materials and supplies and when they may be expensed. • Provide new definitions of a “unit of property,” which may impact whether work performed on the property is treated as a deductible repair expense or a capital improvement that must be depreciated (the larger the unit of property, the more likely the work involved will be classified as a repair). • Specify that improvements must be depreciated, rather than deducted, if the work on the property involves a BAR (betterment, adaptation, or restoration). • Allow taxpayers to elect to make partial disposition of an asset to recognize gain or loss on a retirement, replacement, or other disposition of a partial asset (such as a roof on a building). • Require acquisition and facilitation costs to be capitalized.

According to the IRS and many experts, most businesses will have to file at least one Form 3115, Application for Change in Accounting Method, with their tax returns to comply with the regulations. The IRS has issued Revenue Procedures to streamline the filing of Form 3115 if it is done with a timely filed 2014 tax return. There are about 21 different reasons that the regulations may call for a change in accounting methods. Some of these changes in accounting methods are required, others are optional. There are also about five annual elections that a taxpayer should consider when filing their tax returns as follows: 1. Election to capitalize materials and supplies 2. Election for de minimis safe harbor 3. Election for safe harbor for small taxpayers 4. Election to capitalize repair and maintenance 5. Election for disposition of a portion of an asset Clearly, the new tangible property regulations pose considerable compliance risks for both taxpayers and tax preparers. While they help bring clarity and order to the treatment of tangible property, the tax accounting in this area may have become entrenched in its own practices and methods that are no longer advisable or even in some cases defensible. By the same token, through new safe harbors and other taxpayer-favorable features, the regulations may provide tax planning opportunities for some businesses that have yet to fully appreciate or implement them. If in doubt, ask your tax preparer these two questions: 1. Do I need to file any elections to comply with the final tangible property regulations? 2. Are there any annual elections under the final tangible property regulations that I should be making that may be tax advantageous to me? ■ Dennis Kaneshiro is a partner at the offices of Timpson Garcia, LLP, CPAs and Consultants. He can be reached at (510) 832-2325.

FEBRUARY 2015 | 17


Women in Business


> Mayor Schaaf to speak at Women in Business luncheon


Newly elected Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf will be the featured speaker at the Chamber’s East Bay Women in Business luncheon on Friday, April 3 at the Waterfront Hotel in Jack London Square. She will answer the question, “Where is Oakland Headed and How Does it Get There.” The luncheon begins with networking at 11:15 a.m., with the luncheon and address starting at noon. Networking follows the event until 1:30 p.m. Now celebrating its 17th year, Women in Business continues to expand its reach and value to its members Libby Schaaf by offering inspiring presentations and networking at its bimonthly luncheons as well as additional events focusing on practical business information. EBWIBR seeks to connect its members to key issues facing the region and how those issues impact our business. For reservations and more information, visit or contact Shaterica Sullivan at or call (510) 8744800, ext. 0. ■

We work with you and your team to connect your product or service with your target. We create quality publications and websites that help build your brand – annual reports, brochures, logos, corporate newsletters, advertising, sales kits and WordPress sites.

C ARTER = DESIGNS C O M M U N I C AT I O N D E S I G N T H AT R E A L LY M E A N S B U S I N E S S 510. 653. 2153 • c c @ c h e r i e ca r t e r d e s i g n s . c o m

WIBR 2015

Joan C. Williams • Libby Schaaf • Jory Des Jardins • Alicia DeCoudreaux


“RISING TO THE TOP” Let the East Bay Women in Business Roundtable inspire you and become a resource for your business, knowledge, and interpersonal change. We invite you to connect with us for this series of moving discourse created by a group of women just like you – leaders. To register or for more information, contact Shaterica Sullivan at (510) 874-4800 xO, or

Feb. 6, 2015 | Gender Bias: Overcoming Double Standards and Dead Ends Featuring Joan C. Williams, Attorney and Author Apr. 3, 2015 | Where is Oakland Headed and How Does it Get There? Featuring Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf June 5, 2015 | Social Media Strategy for Successful Entrepreneurship Featuring Jory Des Jardins, Author, Media Strategist, and Co-Founder of BlogHer Aug. 7, 2015 | Oakland in the Media: The State of Oakland’s Image Media Panel Discussion – Print, Radio, Web and TV commentators Oct. 2, 2015| An Inspiring Leader’s Keys to Success Featuring Alicia DeCoudreaux, President, Mills College

18 | OBR Oakland Business Review |


> Big step for Oakland Army Base Project: Link to the outside

> Inside Oakland welcomes new City Councilmembers


N JANUARY, THE INSIDE OAKLAND BREAKFAST FORUM hosted new Oakland City Councilmembers Anne Campbell Washington (District 4) and Abel Guillen (District 2). Campbell Washington and Guillen were both elected to the Council in November 2014. Campbell Washington and Guillen discussed priorities for their respective districts and for the greater Oakland community. Each highlighted the importance of public safety, business retention, and development. Campbell Washington spoke about her experience as District 4 School Board member at the Oakland Unified School District and the opportunities she sees between the school district and City Council. Guillen talked about linking into our area technical programs and how Oakland could benefit by connecting to area development projects (i.e. Lit San Leandro). ▼ New Oakland City The new Councilmembers were Councilmembers Anne excited about the opportunities they Campbell Washington see in Oakland and eager to get started and Abel Guillen spoke on work at the Oakland City Council. at the Chamber’s Inside The Forum was sponsored by Oakland Breakfast Schnitzer Steel Industries. ■ Forum.

> Southwest continues

global logistics hub envisioned for Oakland's decommis sioned army base has taken a big step forward. The Port of Oakland and Union Pacific Railroad have started construction to link the site with UP’s main line. “Connecting the Oakland Army Base to the national rail network is a milestone for us,” said Chris Chan, the Port’s engineering director. “To be successful, we must have good rail access.” The $25 million project is financed by the Port of Oakland and the California Transportation Commission’s Trade Corridors Improvement Fund. It’s part of a $100 million Port effort to significantly expand Oakland rail capacity. A 7,400-foot lead track and the reconfiguration of adjacent tracks should be completed in October. Once finished, the Port will be better positioned to receive bulk rail shipments at the former army base from Union Pacific and BNSF railroads. The Port and city of Oakland expect to transform Trans-Pacific supply chains at the 360-acre former army base logistics center. Located on the Port’s Outer Harbor, it would include warehousing, trans-load facilities and a dry-bulk cargo terminal. Here’s how it could change the way exports are moved: • Bulk shipments of commodities such as Midwest grain and beef could be delivered to Oakland by rail, trans-loaded into containers at the Port, and then exported via Asia-bound container vessels. • Bulk shipments of other commodities could also travel to Oakland by rail. They would be loaded onto bulk vessels at a new dry-bulk shipping terminal and exported to Asia. Union Pacific will manage construction of the army base rail link within its own property. The railroad has hired Oakland-based McGuire & Hester for a significant portion of the work. The Port has emphasized use of local contractors since construction began at the former army base in 2013.. ■


Oakland airport expansion


Oakland International Airport (OAK) and Southwest Airlines have announced the expansion of Southwest’s operations at OAK with the addition of new nonstop flights linking Oakland with Nashville and New Orleans beginning June 7. The new services represent the third and fourth new OAK routes announced by Southwest for 2015, following earlier announcements of new service to Baltimore-Washington D.C. (BWI) and Dallas / Love (DAL) that starting in early January. The new additions bring to 22 the number of Southwest Airlines nonstop destinations from OAK, the carrier’s largest operational base in California. "It is exciting to see Southwest adding yet more service at OAK, and giving more customers across the country the most user-friendly access to the Bay Area" said Deborah Ale Flint, Director of Aviation for Port of Oakland. “We are particularly pleased with the addition of Nashville and New Orleans, two cities with strong cultural and business ties to Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area region.” Southwest will offer 108 peak-day departures from OAK in the summer schedule effective June 7. More than 2,400 Southwest employees are based at OAK, including pilots, flight attendants, customer service, air cargo, aircraft maintenance, ground equipment and commissary personnel. The carrier began service from OAK in 1986. “Our customers prefer the convenience and reliability of Oakland International when they travel to and from the San Francisco Bay Area,” said Andrew Watterson, vice president of planning and performance at Southwest Airlines. “Our growth at OAK in 2015 is a reflection of that preference and takes full advantage of the airport’s new BART station.” San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) opened a new extension between its Coliseum Station and a new Oakland International Airport Station in November. ■

> Port of Oakland reaching out to more small, local firms


HE PORT OF OAKLAND PLANS TO SPEND $570 MILLION on capital improvements over the next five years, and has extended efforts to ensure that businesses, including small and local firms, continue to share in the work. The Port recently educated 155 contractors from nearby communities during a half-day seminar on bidding for public works projects. The objective: cast a wider net in selecting firms to do everything from paving to perimeter dike improvements. “The Port of Oakland’s mission is job creation and economic growth,” said Social Responsibility Division Director Amy Tharpe. “As we progress, we want firms right here in our backyard to benefit along with everyone else.” Builders, plumbers and electricians crowded a classroom near Jack London Square for contracting advice. Port engineers and contract experts educated potential bidders on how to compete for public works projects. New projects will include building renovations, electrical upgrades and pavement overlay on runways at Oakland International Airport, which is managed by the Port of Oakland. The following is the Port’s record over the last three years in public works contracting with local and small businesses: • 85 percent of the spending has gone to firms in the Port’s local business area –Alameda and Contra Costa counties; • 65 percent has gone to firms in the Port’s local impact area – the cities of Oakland, Emeryville, San Leandro and Alameda; • 27 percent was spent with small businesses; and • 15 percent with very small businesses. ■

FEBRUARY 2015 | 19

> Leadership Oakland looks at public safety Kicking off Leadership Oakland’s (LO’s) curriculum of seminars on topics of civic engagement, LO participants Amber Todd, Jennifer Koidal and Collin Jones coordinated an all-day series of discussions regarding Public Safety.

The event took place at the city’s Office of Emergency Services and included a tour of the facility and adjacent Fire Station #1. The invited speakers addressed a wide range of topics related to public safety, starting with a panel discussion on emergency operations, preparedness and resiliency. Assistant Emergency Services Manager Cathey Eide led a tour of the facility while discussing logistics related to emergency operations. Dena Gunning, with the city of Oakland, addressed the importance of self-reliance skills and shared information on preparedness training available through CORE, Communities of Oakland Respond to Emergencies. The needs of the most vulnerable communities were also discussed, with Ana-Marie Jones of CARD (Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters) sharing the special challenges these communities face in emergencies. Victoria Salinas, Oakland’s new chief resilience officer, described the opportunities awaiting Oakland, as a selected city in the Rockefeller Center’s 100 Resilient Cities program. The session included a panel discussion on prevention methods and strategies. Gerry Garzon, director of Oakland Public Libraries, and Audree Jones-Taylor, director of Parks and Recreation, discussed the crucial role their respective public facilities play in crime prevention. Garzon cited the city’s “Oakland Reads 2020” program, which aims to set children up for success in school; Jones-Taylor stressed “play with a purpose,” noting that children are healthier when they play. Direct crime prevention strategies were then addressed by the city’s Sara Bedford, Reygan Harmon and Kevin Grant. Bedford, representing the Human Services Department, described programs such as Head Start, which prepares potentially at-risk children for kindergarten. Harmon and Grant provided an extremely candid discussion on direct intervention and support provided to repeat offenders through programs such as Ceasefire, designed to reduce homicides from group and gang-related activity. Harmon and others placed great emphasis on the importance of data-driven and outcome-focused strategies such as Ceasefire. The importance of ensuring consistent, continuing resources for programs such as Ceasefire was further addressed by Chief of Police Sean Whent. Chief Whent further described the challenges facing Oakland police, such as officer retention as well as significant successes: summarizing Oakland being on track to see the greatest two-year reduction in shootings since 1969. The Chief also described the strategies his department has

– by Amber Todd, Jennifer Koidal and Collin Jones

employed to foster a lasting, trusting relationship with the community, which he described as the most important step toward true crime prevention. Following Chief Whent, Fire Chief Teresa Reed outlined the multiple responsibilities entrusted to Oakland fire’s six bureaus, noting that more than 60,000 calls a year are dispatched, with 80 percent of the calls for medical services. Chief Reed noted that the department’s service area encompasses 53 square miles and includes the airport, major roads and freeways. She also shared response time goals, which the department is exceeding. Afterwards, the Chief even gave the group a tour of Fire Station #1. Rounding out the day’s discussions, Arturo Sanchez and Joe DeVries with the City Administrator’s office spoke about the importance of collective awareness in crime prevention. DeVries described the genesis of Neighborhood Crime Prevention Councils (NCPCs), designed to manage Neighborhood Watch programs. These programs provide a forum for neighbors to share issues of concern. Prioritized issues are then responded to by “problem-solving officers” whose primary responsibility is to focus on specific problems within their beat community. Between the panel discussions, facility tours and visits by chiefs of Fire and Police, the day’s seminar covered a wide swath of issues related to public safety. ■ ▼ Police Chief Sean Whent and Fire Chief Teresa Reed join Leadership Oakland participants at the group’s Public Safety Day.

> Health & Human Services Day at Leadership Oakland During Leadership Oakland’s fourth session, the group learned about the health and human services available to the community members of Oakland.

The day featured visits to Alameda Health System’s Highland Hospital, Harborside Health Center, and a revitalizing foundation training on how to properly align your body. The session began with a panel discussion about the changing business in health care taking place in Oakland. Speakers included Dr. Carladenise Edwards, chief strategy officer at Alameda Health System; Luella Penserga, director of policy and planning at Alameda Health Consortium; and Jamie Asdorian, production supervisor for Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre (KPET). The panelists shared their experiences and insight about the current scope of health care in our community along with the changes within health care services we face in the near future. Dr. Edwards spoke about the impact of Alameda Health System (AHS) and how technology is improving patient care. Alameda Health System caters to our most vulnerable populations and provides many health programs to better serve our community. She also touched on the significance of Highland Hospital as Oakland’s Level II Trauma Center, where patients are treated for emergencies, regardless of their current health care provider. The group also had a surprise visit from AHS’ Interim CEO, Daniel Boggan Jr. Penserga discussed how important prevention is to our health, and the increasing access to care for those who need it most. Alameda Health Consortium strives to reduce health disparities and empower patients to participate in their own health care by supporting the involvement of our communities in achieving comprehensive, accessible health and improved outcomes. Asdorian shared how Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Educational Theatre is using the power of theater as health education for school-aged youth and their families. Kaiser’s Education through the Arts productions

20 | OBR Oakland Business Review |

Amber Todd, Jennifer Koidal and Collin Jones all are participants of Leadership Oakland.

– by Katrina Lashea, Gilbert Pete and Laura Sargent

(Best Me, Peace Signs, Nightmare at Puberty Street and Secrets) are provided at no cost and inspire children, teens and adults to make healthier decisions. Dr. Brett Jones, a Leadership Oakland alum, provided an hour of guided movement and education, blending foundation training, posture alignment and education about chiropractic medicine. He is a chiropractor with an office located in Oakland’s Laurel District titled, “The Source Chiropractic.” Certified athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist Lance Von Stade, assisted Dr. Jones, with movement demonstrations and group coaching throughout the foundation training. In the afternoon, the group toured Highland Hospital’s Emergency Department, Cardiac Catheterization Lab, and the new Highland Care Pavilion, where the group learned how patients are treated and how Alameda Health System is implementing state-of-the-art technology to deliver care and align care coordination. The group had an opportunity to observe an angioplasty procedure, and the triage care that happens in Highland’s Trauma Center, which serves all of Alameda County. The last stop of the day was a tour of Harborside Health Center, an Oaklandbased medical cannabis dispensary. The group learned about the medicinal properties of cannabis, viewed an array of medical cannabis products, and learned about its benefit to treating illnesses that are associated with aging. Medical cannabis can be a healthy alternative for some people who are unable to tolerate the harsh side effects of most pharmaceutical drugs. Harborside staff informed the group of the no-cost supportive services (group and individual counseling, yoga, acupuncture, message and meditation) that are provided to Harborside members to focus on physical and mental wellness. February’s Leadership Oakland session will focus on the arts and education sectors. ■ Katrina Lashea, Gilbert Pete and Laura Sargent all are participants of Leadership Oakland.

> City leadership – continued from page 1

The Chamber has assumed a major role as the convener working with many of Oakland’s industry, community and education leaders. This focus continues with involvement with many of the other ethnic chambers in Oakland. Oakland’s city leadership needs to hear the voice of the business community now more than ever. The Chamber’s focus on public policy and economic growth has already yielded positive results in the City Council and Mayor’s decisions. Tourism is a major economic driver of Oakland’s future. With additional hotels in downtown Oakland being evaluated, the lodging landscape may expand in the next several years. Your Chamber is a big supporter of Visit Oakland’s “I Am Oakland” program to better prepare all of Oakland’s businesses to better understand and embrace our tourism potential. Your Chamber’s role as Alameda County’s SBDC (Small Business Development Center) has continued to grow since its inception in 2012. The continued SBDC involvement in economic development, small business capitalization and training is expected to grow substantially over the next several years. Of course, coupled with a dynamic Oakland there must be a more dynamic Chamber. With the assistance of my fellow directors as well as input from you – our Chamber members – we will continue to be the finest and most influential business organization in the East Bay. Your Chamber works for all businesses, large and small, as evidenced by our work with local restaurants through the Oakland Restaurant Association, by our support of Oakland’s Business Improvement Districts, and by our Retail Task Force. Together, let’s work to make Oakland a truly great city. If we combine our efforts, our ideas and our expertise the result will be an improved business community and a greater Oakland. ■ Mark Everton, the area managing director of Commune Hotels & Resorts and general manager of Oakland’s Waterfront Hotel, is Chairman of the Board for the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

> Nonprofit Roundtable

something positive and creative involving colleagues and constituents. “Figure out who is the chair of a committee or the thoughtleader on your particular issue and start there,” said Ginsberg. “In general, politicians are looking for issues and activities where they can make a difference.” They all noted that nonprofit partnership is absolutely needed and desired by elected officials. ■

▲ Speakers at the

Nonprofit Roundtable were (left to right) Casey Farmer, Amy Shrago, Joel Ginsberg, and Jamila English.

Jerry Metzker, development and grants manager for Family Connections, and Âna-Marie Jones, executive director of CARD (Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters), are co-chairs of the Nonprofit Roundtable, which meets on the third Tuesday of the month at the Chamber offices.

> Getting together A

SPECIAL ALL-CHAMBERS MIXER WAS HELD LAST month in the Stella Club of the Oracle Arena, home of the Golden State Warriors. Executives of all Oakland ethnic chambers of commerce were on hand, as was Barbara Leslie (third from the left), the president and chief executive officer of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Also on hand was the evening’s hostess, April Warholic, event coordinator for AEG (fourth from the left) and Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson (center). ■

explores its political voice – by Jerry Metzker & Âna-Marie Jones

The Chamber’s Nonprofit Roundtable kicked off 2015 by hosting a panel of staff members from the Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

The panel included: • Jamila A. English, office of Councilmember Anne Campbell Washington (District 4) • Casey Farmer, office of Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney (District 3) • Joel Ginsberg, office of Supervisor Wilma Chan (District 3) • Amy Shrago, office of Supervisor Keith Carson (District 5) The staffers made it clear from the beginning that not only is it legal, but nonprofits are encouraged to contact elected officials. “We want to hear from you,” said Shrago. “A lot of times you have the best access to groups of people.” “The best way to contact us is any way – at a function, by email or phone call,” added Ginsberg. All of the staffers stated that the representatives and staff were always approachable. Farmer encouraged individuals to email both the representative and the staffer assigned to the area. “In our office, we’re all in one room,” English stated. “We all answer the phone.” As for speaking engagements or simply attending events, the representatives are always flattered to be asked, but are very busy. “We need to know exactly what you are looking for,” said Farmer. They can even be available to participate in promotional videos if everything is set up so that they can participate as quickly and easily as possible. Planning far in advance greatly increases the chances for success. To engage all of the elected leaders at the same time is a challenge because of varying interests and responsibilities, but large numbers of contacts have more resonance, as well as doing

‘The Oakland Advantage’ March 20

Register now at FEBRUARY 2015 | 21

> An open house for Blaisdell’s It was its second annual open house since moving to the new location early last year. Blaisdell’s offers more than 40,000 business products – 10,000 of them recycled and recyclable – including toner, breakroom and janitorial products, furniture and more. To make it more convenient for your business, you can order online, by phone or fax, or in person. And, there’s next day delivery – free. Supplies include everything from computer accessories and software to ergonomic office chairs, sit-stand work stations, keyboards, back supports and adjustable tables. At the open house, below, chief executive officer Margee Witt is joined by executive Mike Witt as well as staff and friends. For more information on Blaisdell’s, which is one of the fastest growing companies in the Bay Area, visit or call (510) 483-3600. ■ Blaisdell’s Business Products, which carries everything for your breakroom to your boardroom, recently had an open house at 474 Roland Way in the airport area just off Edgewater Drive.

was formerly chief scientist of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and is the founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research, Inc., and of Mission Blue and SEAlliance. She is currently an Oakland resident. For more information about the luncheon, visit, send an email to, or call (510) 834-7640. ■

> Matson Navigation extends lease term another 10 years Matson Navigation, a global transportation services company, has extended the lease term of its multi-floor worldwide headquarters at 555 City Center in Oakland for an additional 10 years. Matson, which relocated its headquarters from San Francisco to its current home in the heart of Oakland’s City Center a decade ago, is located in 48,000 square feet on the seventh and eighth floors of the 20-story Class A high-rise. Owned by Harvest Properties & Prudential Real Estate Investors, 555 City Center is a LEED Gold, high-quality freestanding office tower that consists of first class, high-end finishes complemented by world-class views of the San Francisco Bay and East Bay hills. The 12th Street BART station plus a strong mix of retail, dining and other services amenities are also within walking distance. The tower is recognized not only as one of the premier office towers in Oakland, but throughout the entire Bay Area. John Dolby and Dane Hooks with DTZ represented the landlord in the transaction. ■

> O.C. Jones celebrates 90th year and Best Highway Project O.C. Jones & Sons, Inc. recently celebrated 90 years in business, and the Berkeley-based heavy construction and general engineering firm continues to ride a wave of success. In November, the company received the Best Highway Project by Engineering News-Record for the I-80 Truck Scales Inspection Facility and Highway Interchange in Fairfield, California. The $50 million project replaces a 50-year-old truck-scale facility located in the middle of three converging freeways: Interstate 80, I-680 and State Route 12. The new facility will help to alleviate the congestion caused by more than two million trucks entering and exiting the scales each year. The project won California Transportation Foundation Safety Project of the Year award, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Roadway/Highway Project of the Year Award, and the Caltrans Gold Partnering Award. Recently, O.C. Jones applied the finishing touches on the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge by putting down a special epoxy asphalt on more than 1.1 million square feet of surface area. Today, O.C. Jones continues to build on its historic legacy as a leading heavy engineering construction contractor and builder of athletic fields in Northern California. O.C. Jones services include paving, grading, excavating, demolition, synthetic surfaces, underground utility, environmental remediation, and emergency response for public and private clients. Its core markets are highway and airport construction; stadiums, athletic fields and parks; commercial; industrial; residential; and intermodal facilities. ■

> League of Women Voters luncheon set for May 13 Dr. Sylvia Earle, renowned oceanographer, explorer, author, lecturer, and National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, will be the featured speaker for the annual League of Women Voters luncheon on Wednesday, May 13 at Oakland’s Scottish Rite Center. Named by Time magazine as its first “Hero for the Planet,” Dr. Earle has led more than 100 expeditions and logged more than 7,000 hours underwater, participating in ten saturation dives, most recently in July 2012, and setting a record for solo diving in 1,000-meter depths. Dr. Earle has experience as a field research scientist, government official, and director for corporate and nonprofit organizations. She

Come to “Inside Oakland Breakfast Forum” and hear from people who affect the policies and progress of the city in which we live and do business.

INSIDE OAKLAND BREAKFAST FORUM Friday, Feb. 27 • 8:30 - 10 a.m. featuring a discussion of the implementation of Oakland’s new minimum wage ordinance. JOIN Chamber members for this informative breakfast at the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, 475 14th Street. This event is free to Chamber members and $10.00 for non-members. To attend, you must RSVP by Wednesday, Feb. 25.


22 | OBR Oakland Business Review |

All events held at Chamber offices, 475 14th Street, unless otherwise noted. Call 874-4800 to confirm dates and times. Meetings are open to all Chamber members.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Presenting the Forum | FEB. 11

INSIDE OAKLAND Discussing the minimum wage

| FEB. 27

Women in Business

Small business education lunch


Mayor Schaaf to speak

2015 Economic Summit

| APR. 3

| FEB. 27

| MAR. 20

Keeping you connected and informed

> FEBRUARY 2015 9 | Ambassador Committee meeting

| 4 - 5 p.m. EX ECU TI VE CO MM I TTE E

RON FOREST Matson Navigation Company

Chair of the Board MARK EVERTON Waterfront Hotel

JOHN GOODING The Quadric Group

Vice Chair CHARISSA FRANK FMG Architects

BENJAMIN HARRISON Colliers International

DAN COHEN Full Court Press

STAN HEBERT California State University, East Bay

DAVID TUCKER Waste Management of Alameda County


ZACK WASSERMAN Ex Officio Corporate Counsel Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP

VICTORIA JONES The Clorox Company

KEN WHITE Fidelity Roof Company



B OAR D OF DI R EC TO RS KIM ARNONE Cutting Edge Capital (representing Women in Business Roundtable) HARMINDER BAINS Securitas

PAMELA KERSHAW Port of Oakland

KEN LOWNEY Lowney Architecture KEN MAXEY Comcast ED MCFARLAN JRDV Urban International SAM NASSIF Creative Hospitality Corporation

11 | Economic Development Forum

| 3 – 4:30 p.m. featuring guest speaker Andrew Haydel, principal of Lane Partners, LLC, discussing the renovation of the former Sears Building

17 | Nonprofit Roundtable Committee meeting

| 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. 27 | Inside Oakland Breakfast Forum

| 8:30 – 10 a.m. featuring a discussion of the implementation of Oakland’s new minimum wage ordinance

27 | Small Business Education Lunch-n-Learn

| noon-1 p.m. with guest speaker Rosie Aiello, productivity expert and owner of Clear Vista Consulting, discussing “Your Time is Your Money, $10 for Chamber members, and lunch is provided

> MARCH 2015 9 | Ambassador Committee meeting

| 4 - 5 p.m. HILARY PEARSON Sungevity

11 | Economic Development Forum

| 3 – 4:30 p.m.

ALISON BEST Visit Oakland

JULIE PETRINI Alta Bates Summit Medical Center



| 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.

GREG CHAN East Bay Municipal Utility District


20 | 2015 Economic Summit,

JENNIFER SCANLON Kaiser Permanente

| 8 – 11 a.m.

CYNTHIA CHIARAPPA Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland JOHN DOLBY DTZ


The purpose of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce is to promote commerce and industry, to advance economic growth and to enhance the quality of life in the city of Oakland.

OBR OAKLAND BUSINESS REVIEW (ISSN 1092-7220) is published monthly at $100.00 a year by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, 475 14th Street, Oakland, CA 94612-1903. Membership dues include subscription. Periodicals postage at Oakland, CA. Contents can’t be reproduced without permission. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to OAKLAND BUSINESS REVIEW, 475 14th Street, Oakland, CA 94612. Editor

HANK MASLER, (510) 874-4808 |

Design/Production Editor

CARTER DESIGNS The articles published in this publication do not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

receives grant Building on its successful six-year program, Alameda Health System (AHS) has announced that Kaiser Permanente is continuing its support of AHS's Preventing Heart Attacks and Strokes Everyday (PHASE) program with a two-year, $400,000 grant that will be administered by Alameda Health System Foundation. AHS will be expanding the number of patients participating in the PHASE program, which targets adults ages 45 to 74 who have uncontrolled diabetes or hypertension. PHASE combines a fixed-dose medication regiment with lifestyle changes. Successfully implementing the program requires team-based care, with coordination between pharmacies and direct care providers, along with reliable patient data management. “Too often we are providing care for patients with a multitude of chronic conditions, which is overwhelming for them to manage without support. The PHASE program allows people to learn about healthy choices and how to manage their chronic conditions,” said Mark Maus, DO, MPH, AHS's Eastmont Wellness medical director. “Our team works with each patient to create a custom, individual plan that meets their needs.” In 2015, AHS will focus on patients served by its two largest freestanding clinics: Eastmont Wellness, located in East Oakland, and Hayward Wellness, located in Hayward. In 2016, PHASE will expand to Highland Wellness, also located in East Oakland. AHS’s patients are largely low-income and uninsured/underinsured; they face barriers to access and experience many disparities. The vast majority are persons of color, representing significant cultural, race/ethnic and linguistic diversity. Chronic conditions, including diabetes and hypertension, are prevalent, as is the onset of these conditions at younger ages than the general population. Kaiser Permanente is awarding a total of $5.25 million in 17 PHASE grants across Northern California. Grants will support the technology and work process changes that are necessary for implementing PHASE, as well as assistance in evaluating the effectiveness of the program. All organizations receiving PHASE grants become part of a learning community that engages in training, problem solving, and advancing best practices. ■

17 | Nonprofit Roundtable Committee meeting

“The Oakland Advantage”


> Alameda Health System

featuring a real estate update and market overview by Garrick Brown (DTZ), a discussion of the “Oakland Indicator Project” by Christopher Thornberg (Beacon Economics) and two panel discussions – “Building for Oakland’s Economy” and then a specific look at Oakland’s array of businesses and industries, the pros and cons of operating here, and prioritizing actions, $75 per person until March 1, $85 afterwards, Oakland Marriott City Center

25 | After Five Reception

| 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. location to be announced

27 | Small Business Education Lunch-n-Learn

| noon-1 p.m. featuring Sara Skowronski (principal consultant, Eos Human Resources Consulting) discussing “HR Strategies for Business Growth, $10 for Chamber members, and lunch is provided

> New series of workshops will assist small businesses The Chamber’s Small Business Education Series is a monthly networking and panel-led training event conducted by Chamber members. The purpose of the program is to provide informative educational seminars that are relevant to the starting, operating, managing, and growing of member businesses. The workshops feature a wide variety of topics that are helpful for anyone involved with a business, from owners and managers to entrylevel employees. Those workshops are held on the fourth Friday of each month from noon to 1 p.m. in the Chamber offices. The cost for Chamber members is $10 and lunch will be provided. Non-members pay $15. Mark your calendars for these upcoming events: • Feb. 27 – Rosie Aiello (productivity expert and owner of Clear Vista Consulting) will present “Your Time Is Your Money.” • March 27 – Sara Skowronski (principal consultant, Eos Human Resources Consulting) will present “HR Strategies for Business Growth.” • April 24 – Gail Nott (social media strategist, Nott Ltd Solutions) will present “Is Your Social Media Presence Referrable?” To reserve a spot for one of the upcoming workshops, visit and click on the events calendar. If you would like to be a speaker at one of the upcoming programs, or would like to suggest a topic, contact Cory Nott at ■

FEBRUARY 2015 | 23

Small Business Development Center

> Alameda County SBDC adds

The Alameda County SBDC gratefully acknowledges the support of Wells Fargo in 2015.

a ‘Crowdfunding’ specialist Tara Lynn Gray has joined the Alameda County SBDC advisor staff to assist clients to raise funds through “crowdfunding.” Crowdfunding has been a rapidly growing source of capital for early stage businesses, and within a few years, is predicted to surpass venture capital as a source of small business funding. As an SBDC advisor, Gray shares information and education on how to fund small business startups through the growing online capital formation platforms. She has taught Tara Lynn Gray classes on Crowdfunding and assisted many startups and small businesses with crowdfunding campaigns. She is currently serving SBDC clients with strategic planning for their crowdfunding campaigns, including an ice cream company, a music festival promoter and a sewing products company. Gray walks each business owner through the planning, set up, and launch of their crowdfunding campaign. She assists with project plans, budget worksheets, ecommerce stores, and the crowdfunding platform itself. The daughter of two career educators, Tara Lynn Gray admits that sharing, caring, and teaching are a part of her family heritage and a big part of why she is dedicated to self-empowerment and entrepreneurship training. As such, Gray considers herself a change agent who leverages new platforms and technologies to accelerate growth in undeserved markets. She is an experienced leader who has completed many complex information technology projects during her tenure as president and chief executive officer of YADARI Enterprises, a Management Consulting & IT Professional Services company. From 2004 to 2012, Gray was the volunteer coordinator for a statewide Youth Entrepreneurship program that held an annual gathering of youth for a day-long event focused on the various aspects of business ownership. She worked with a group of high powered business owners and executives of large corporations to make it happen – including Magic Johnson, who she had the pleasure of working with in the 2012 Youth Entrepreneur Summit. In 2009, her firm published a blueprint for nonprofits and faith-based organizations to create sustainable communities through microenterprise growth and development entitled, “The Community Initiative for Self Sustainability (CISS). She created The Black Initiative for Self Sustainability (BLISS), a social enterprise project funded in part by AT&T Foundation and JP Morgan Chase, structured to pioneer change and innovations that will spur economic development and growth by increasing the number of small businesses and related commerce activity in the African American community. Gray taught two cohorts that graduated in 2012 and 2013 with more than 40 jobs created through the program. Gray’s education includes a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from St. Mary’s College in Moraga; UCLA Anderson School of Business, Management Development for Entrepreneurs; Intel Business Academy; and Numerous Technical Certifications including Cisco CCIE and Microsoft Certified System Engineering curriculum. Gray is a board member of Child Haven Child Advocacy Organization, board member of Sickle Cell Network (RuSH Pilot Project Community Rep.), Business Advisor to Vallejo City Unified School District Wall-toWall Academy Advisory Board, member of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), member of U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, and member of the Hospitality Ministry at Abundant Life Worship Center in Vallejo. She is the 2012 Recipient of the California Black Chamber of Commerce Leadership Award, 2009 Recipient of the California Black Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year Award (North), and 2004 Recipient Of Allstate Insurance Company’s “From Whence We Came” National Pioneer in Technology Award. ■

24 | OBR Oakland Business Review |

> Near-West Cabinets grows with SBDC assistance When we drive down busy streets and see hundreds of businesses, large and small, we rarely think of them as stories, but they are. Each is the physical and service manifestation of its owner’s creativity, organization and hard work. Near-West Cabinets, located at 14212 Doolittle Drive in San Leandro, is no exception. It is the personal success story of its owner, Evan Andersen, but is also the story of the expert assistance of the Alameda County Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The story begins with Anderson in 2002 beginning his cabinetmaker’s apprenticeship with a firm in Santa Cruz. Upon completion of the program, in true entrepreneurial fashion, he opened up his own cabinet shop in his parent’s garage, and then quickly moved to a warehouse facility at Hunter’s Point. For the next nine years he worked as a one-man shop, alternating work in the business and other outside employment to stay financially afloat. He later moved to the present, larger facility in San Leandro. His company was making enough money to maintain itself, but sales were stalling out at a level he believed could be improved. Early in 2014, Anderson went to the SBDC website ( and requested one-on-one counseling. He requested assistance to analyze his company’s operations and to determine the most optimal ways to jump-start the company to accelerated growth and sales levels. In particular, he wanted to Near-West Cabinets owner Evan Andersen. build a more efficient marketing and sales program SBDC counselor Ron Barrett worked with Anderson to help determine the most profitable categories of customers for the business, and how to reach them at the lowest possible cost. Based on this research, new customer target lists were developed and prioritized. In addition, suggestions were made to improve the management of his own time, allowing him to set aside regular hours for sales tasks to find and take advantage of opportunities to grow. As a result of the adoption of these and other SBDC recommended measures, the business saw a year-over-year increase of 60 percent in gross sales in 2014. Near-West has also added new computerized routing equipment and three new employees, greatly expanding the company’s capacity. Speaking about the help he received from the SBDC, Anderson said, “This growth would not have happened except for the professional advice we received from Ron. I recommend the SBDC’s one-on-one mentoring program to any business seeking greater growth and profitability.” ■

> ‘I recommend

the SBDC’s oneon-one mentoring program to any business seeking greater growth and profitability.’

Oakland Business Review - February 2015  
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