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BUSINESS JOURNAL

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MONTH 201X

VOLUME 5 ■ ISSUE 1

PROFILE

Mariela Vasquez and Marcus Vasquez opened Nutrition Vibes so they could share their passion for healthy eating with the community. PAGE 3

NEWS

Mandate decrees all new homes in California must be constructed to generate solar electricity through panels typically placed on the home’s roof. PAGE 5

ON THE BOOKS

New laws for 2020 address guns, gig economy and more BY ANGELINA MARTIN

I

209 Business Journal

n the midst of all the top hats, party horns and confetti that helped ring in the New Year, hundreds of new state laws also went into effect in California when the world welcomed 2020. The Legislature’s largely-liberal viewpoint is made apparent in the nearly 1,200 new laws Gov. Gavin Newsom signed in 2019, ranging from monthly limits on gun purchases to increased pay for low-wage jobs. AB 5 will change the way that freelancers and people in the so-called “gig economy” are paid moving forward. The bill, which reclassified what constitutes an “independent contractor” as a way to try and bolster benefits for employees, is expected to adversely affect truck drivers, freelance journalists and contributors, and ride share drivers. The legality of the bill is under question as freelance journalists have filed suit to try and block the law from taking effect after it was announced by a national online news service that they would not renew contracts with freelancers from California because the state requires them to be paid minimum wage as well as be given benefits and perks typically reserved for employees. Rideshare giant Uber has said that they refuse to implement the changes and was part of an effort to defeat the bill through lobby-

ing. Despite the controversy, the law went into effect on Jan. 1. The state’s gun laws — already some of the country’s strictest — will see more restrictive additions in 2020, with most expanding already-existing regulations. One new law that goes into effect Jan. 1 prohibits Californians under the age of 21 from purchasing a semi-automatic rifle, and starting in 2021, all California residents will be limited to buying one of the rifles per month. In addition, a person banned from having a gun in another state can no longer legally have one in their possession in California come 2020. In 2019, those under the age of 21 were prohibited from purchasing long gun, like rifles and shotguns, unless they are active law enforcement, military or have their hunting license. The stipulation also applies to the new semi-automatic rifle law. Bilson’s Sport Shop employee Larry Adams shared in 2018 that sales to those between 18 and 21 accounted for about 30 percent of the shop’s total firearm revenue. Adams added that prohibiting those under the age of 21 from purchasing any type of gun seemed ironic. “I don’t understand how you can join the military, get a gun and get killed overseas, but you can’t own that same firearm in your own country,” Adams said in 2018. Two additional gun laws will

About a third of California renters pay more than half of their income to rent and are one emergency away from losing their housing. One essential tool to combating this crisis is protecting renters from price-gouging and evictions. ­—Gov. Gavin Newsom go into effect Sept. 1, 2020 — one prohibiting those with a gunviolence restraining order from buying a firearm for up to five years, and another that allows an employer, coworker, employee or teacher to seek a gun-violence restraining order from a court, allowing police to remove firearms from a person making threats. Changes are coming to California healthcare, too. Doctors will now fill out a new, standardized form created by state health officials for parents who want a medical exemption from vaccinations for their children. Doctors will now have to use that form, and existing exemptions must be submitted to the state in 2021. The state will review the actions of any doctor who has written five or more exemptions after

Jan. 1, 2020. According to the California Health & Human Services Agency, a change in the state’s vaccination laws is needed because some schools are beginning to fall below the 95 percent vaccination rate, thereby jeopardizing herd immunity — the level of immunity that will prevent the spread of an infectious disease in a population — as a result of a growing number of students with medical exemptions. Exemptions which meet the standard of medical care will continue, while those which do not may be revoked. Californians will also now be required to have health insurance, similar to the “individual SEE LAW, PAGE 10


209 209BUSINESS BUSINESS JOURNAL JOURNAL

2

JANUARY 2020 How Do Small Business Owners Feel About Minimum Wage Increases?

OPINION

SCORE and OnDeck surveyed small business owners across America on their thoughts about minimum wage changes.

43% of business owners

support a minimum wage increase. “Increasing minimum wage would increase buying power for many and give considerable boost to the economy.”

“I feel if the minimum wage was more than it is now then people could afford to buy more, and if people were able to afford more then it would pass on to all or most businesses.”

Vol. 5 No. 1 ■ January 2020 39% do NOT support a wage hike.

PUBLISHER “Payroll is the biggest expense, when wages go up, so do taxes on those wages, so a minimum wage increase is a tax increase and a cost of living increase for all consumers.”

Hank Vander Veen

GENERAL MANAGER

“The market should dictate wages not the government.”

Drew Savage 18% are not sure if they would support a higher minimum wage.

MANAGING EDITOR Sabra Stafford

Is the current minimum wage in your state:

NEWSROOM Dennis D. Cruz Kristina Hacker Teresa Hammond Angelina Martin Candy Padilla Vince Rembulat Virginia Still Dennis Wyatt

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Harold L. George

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Sharon Hoffman

SALES & MARKETING Chris Castro Lorraine Bernaldes Beth Flanagan Dawn Hamilton Corey Rogers Melody Wann Charles Webber Jennifer Webber

DIGITAL Frankie Tovar Rich Matheson

To advertise in 209 Business Journal, call Manteca • 209.249.3500 Oakdale • 209.847.3021 Turlock • 209.634.9141 209 Business Journal is published monthly 122 S. Third Ave • Oakdale, CA 95361 Information: dsavage@209businessjournal.com 209businessjournal.com The Oakdale Leader USPS No 178-680 Is published weekly by Morris Newspaper Corporation, 122 S. Third Ave. Oakdale, Ca 95361 ©Copyright 2020. 209 Business Journal All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part of any text, photograph or illustration without written permission from the publisher of 209 Business Journal is strictly prohibited. The opinions expressed in 209 Business Journal are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of 209 Business Journal management or owner. 209 Business Journal assumes no responsibility and makes no recommendation for claims made by advertisers and shall not be liable for any damages incurred.

209MAG A Z I N E.CO M

Tax law changes for 2020 Each year brings new changes to our Byzantine tax system, and 2020 is no different, with recent federal and state laws making the tax landscape more challenging than ever for small businesses and their owners. Here are some tax law changes you need to be aware of in 2020. Required Minimum Distributions From Retirement Plans. Probably the biggest federal tax law change last year was the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act, or SECURE Act, which Congress passed in late December 2019. If you turn 70 1/2 after 2019, you can now wait until you’re age 72 to start making mandated annual withdrawals from your retirement accounts. If you turned 70 1/2 on or before Dec. 31, 2019, you are still required to take those mandated annual withdrawals now. For anyone who inherited an IRA from an original IRA owner who passed away prior to Jan. 1, 2020, no changes to your current distribution schedule are required. However, for situations where the original IRA account owner passes away after Dec. 31, 2019, fewer beneficiaries will be able to extend distributions from the inherited IRA over their lifetime. Many will instead need to withdraw all assets from the inherited IRA within 10 years following the death of the original account holder. Exceptions to the 10year distribution re-

CLIFF ENNICO CREATORS SYNDICATE

quirement include assets left to a surviving spouse, a minor child, a disabled or chronically ill individual, and beneficiaries who are less than 10 years younger than the decedent. Rolling Your Traditional or SEP-IRA Into a Roth IRA. If you are worried about required minimum distributions, or if you want to pass your IRA or SEPIRA on to your heirs free from the 10-year pay-down requirement, you should talk to your accountant about converting your IRA into a Roth IRA this year. You will have to pay tax on the amount converted as ordinary income, but subsequent earnings will be free of tax, and the decrease in tax rates that became effective in 2019 makes such a conversion less costly than it would have been in previous years. Of course, this option only makes sense if the tax rates when the money is withdrawn from the Roth IRA are anticipated to be higher than the tax rates when the traditional IRA is converted — a virtual certainty if the Democrats retake Congress in this year’s election. Home Office Deduction. When the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 eliminated the miscellaneous itemized expense deduction, it eliminated the ability of employees to deduct home office expenses. However, tax-

payers with their own business can still file a Schedule C and take a home-office expense deduction if part of the home is used for that business. State income taxes, property taxes and home mortgage interest allocable to your business can also be deducted. Such deductions are not subject to the limitations that apply to individual taxpayers who do not operate a Schedule C business from their home. Estate and Gift Tax Exemptions. The exemption from federal estate and gift taxes increases to $11,580,000 in 2020 when the annual inflation adjustment is taken into account. Amounts over the exemption levels that do not qualify for either the marital or charitable deduction are taxed at a flat rate of 40% at the federal level. Because the gift and estate tax exemption have been unified since 2011, this exemption can be used during lifetime or at death or some combination of both. Keep in mind that the 2017 tax that implemented the new exemption amounts is only in effect through 2025. Beginning Jan. 1, 2026, these exemptions will revert to their pre2018 levels ($5,000,000 indexed for inflation) unless further legislative action makes the changes permanent. With the 2020 elections on the horizon, there is always the possibility of a new tax law, which could result in a more rapid return to pre-2018 SEE TAX, PAGE 11

16%

40%

44%

Too High

About right

Too low

16% of owners think a minimum wage increase would POSITIVELY affect their business. “Employees will be happier and although I may have to raise rates to cover increased wages, I would rather ensure my employees are happy and productive than worry about any perceived backlash from customers.”

55% feel raising rates would hurt their business. “In order to provide wage increases to staff, cuts are being made elsewhere.”

Do you believe the minimum wage in your state is a "living wage"?

Yes

11%

No

73%

Not sure

16%

73% of owners do not believe the minimum wage is a “living wage” and it should be… “Every employee should be able to meet his fundamental needs: paying his/her rent, transportation to go work, health insurance. The wealthiest country in the world should not tolerate poverty, and should put in place policies to improve people's lives.”

…but some think the minimum wage should NOT be a living wage. “Minimum wage was never intended to provide for a family…It still serves a purpose for entry level jobs for high school students or for tasks that don’t require additional skills or training.”

“There should be tiers of min. wage for different type of work. A seasonal worker at a company… should be compensated at a different rate than a person who is a permanent worker.”

If the minimum wage in your state increased: ��

Would you raise other employee wages proportionately? Yes

37%

No

34%

Not sure

30%

Will you have to cut back on investments in your business?

Yes

44%

No

33%

Not sure

23%

How many full-time workers do you currently employ? 1-3

50%

4-6

11%

7-10

9%

11-20

5%

21-30

3%

31 +

2%

None

20%

How many part-time workers do you currently employ? 1-3

50%

4-6

10%

7-10

7%

11-20

5%

21-30

4%

31 +

2%

None

25%

What percentage of your employees are paid the minimum wage? 0%

58%

1-25%

19%

25-50%

5%

51-75%

4%

More than 75 %

14%

“I owned a small business for 30 years. I always paid my staff well above minimum wage. People deserve the right to live fair.”

www.score.org

Survey results were collected from 897 small business owner respondents via email in November 2019.


209 BUSINESS JOURNAL

3

IN PROFILE

Turlock couple brings healthy vibes to town BY ANGELINA MARTIN 209 Business Journal

The city’s newest nutritional hub is open thanks to the vision of Mariela Vasquez and Marcus Vasquez, who wanted to share their passion for wellbeing with their fellow Turlock residents. Ironically located next to Fails Donut Factory off North Center Street in downtown Turlock, the Vasquezes have transformed what was once a bleak, boring space into a hangout spot filled with photo-ready backdrops, healthy menu items and Nutritional Vibes — the name of their new business. “We definitely envision being able to plug into the community, share nutrition and have a really chill spot to come grab a shake on the go, an energizing tea or all of the other goodies we have here,” Mariela Vasquez said. Nutrition Vibes has a variety of healthy shakes, energizing drinks and protein bars to fulfill all of its customers’ pre- and postworkout needs. Their classic shakes are under 200

‘Hello Luv’ gift shop opens in downtown Manteca BY VINCE REMBULAT 209 Business Journal

Adrian Gregory once worked for the Transportation Security Administration. It was there at the TSA in Menlo Park that she recalled a coworker who would often greet her with a “Hello, Love.” That was Gregory’s inspiration for the naming of her Manteca business, ‘Hello Luv,’ which recently opened at its location, 212 Yosemite Ave. Ste. A. “We were attracted to downtown,” said Gregory, who shares the business

featuring personalized gift baskets, silk flower arrangements and an assortment of gift ideas with Mr. D. Like Gregory, he, too, is retired. Mr. D, a golf enthusiast – he plays in various fundraising tournaments including the one benefitting the local Boys and Girls Clubs – worked construction for Teichert & Sons Inc. “I still have the need to get my hands dirty and feel the earth,” he said. Gregory opened ‘Hello Luv’ which has been SEE HELLO, PAGE 6

ANGELINA MARTIN/209 BUSINESS JOURNAL

Mariela and Marcus Vasquez recently opened Nutrition Vibes in downtown Turlock, where customers can hang out and get healthy.

calories and are available in flavors like Dutch chocolate, wild berry or mint chocolate, and the shop also offers a variety of other specialty shakes and teas. The most popular item at Nutrition Vibes is their selection of Lifted Teas, which contain aloe to help with digestion, a “lift off” SEE COUPLE, PAGE 6

Nutrition Vibes Type of business: Healthy café Location: 334 N. Center St. Suite C, Turlock Hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday Contact information: 209-277-9826; @ nutritionvibesturlock on Instagram

VINCE REMBULAT/209 BUSINESS JOURNAL

Adrian Gregory has gift baskets at ‘Hello Luv’ to fit a variety of life’s milestones.

A healthier workforce creates a stronger business. Get the tools you need to establish a healthier workplace culture, helping your employees manage stress, sleep better, and exercise more. Learn more at kp.org/choosebetter.

Choose Better. Choose Kaiser Permanente.


209 BUSINESS JOURNAL

4

JANUARY 2020

IN PROFILE

New Turlock hotel part of growing hospitality economy BY ANGELINA MARTIN 209 Business Journal

A new hotel in the works for Turlock will not only increase one of the City’s revenue sources, but also contribute to an expanding hotel economy expected to grow with the rest of the town’s amenities. At their last meeting on Dec. 5, the Planning Commission approved a one-year time extension to a previously-approved 85-room, four-story hotel proposed on the 1.85-acre parcel at 4475 N. Golden State Blvd., in between Suburban Propane and Bonander Truck Sales. When complete, the La Quinta Inn & Suites will be the tallest building in Turlock. While a La Quinta hotel may seem like just another business chain rolling into Turlock, the City’s Assistant to the City Manager for Economic Development and Housing Maryn Pitt explained how more rooms lead to more revenue. Turlock’s Transient

Occupancy Tax, or hotel tax, is charged to travelers when they rent accommodations in a hotel, inn, or other lodging for less than 30 days. Turlock’s current TOT rate is 9 percent, which is consistent which other communities in Stanislaus County, and in 2018-2019 generated about $1.66 million. With around seven hotels in Turlock and over 500 rooms available to rent, events at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds, business trips and Stanislaus State draw visitors from all over. The new La Quinta could produce up to $125,000 in revenue from the hotel tax, though Pitt says raising the TOT would hardly make a dent in the City’s struggling reserves. “People have said, ‘Well you should raise the TOT to fix the budget,’” Pitt said. “Raising it by one percent and going to 10 only buys us a couple hundred thousand dollars. That’s not going to fix anything.” Still, adding to the City’s

TOT revenue never hurts, Pitt added. There’s always a need for rooms in Turlock, and with the university growing each year, that trend isn’t expected to change. “We’re always looking in terms of continuing to have a demand for hotels, especially as the university grows,” she said. “As a parent of a college student, when your child goes more than 100 miles away for school, if you want to see them then you’ve got to get a hotel room.” Almost half of the most recent freshman class at Stanislaus State came to the school from between 90 and 150 miles away, Pitt added. “With special events like graduation and other parents’ weekends, I see that as one of the huge opportunities for hotel growth in Turlock — the presence of the university and its production growth,” Pitt said. In addition to parents visiting their children who attend Stanislaus State,

IMAGE CONTRIBUTED

When completed, Turlock’s new La Quinta Inn & Suites will be the tallest building in Turlock and contribute to the City’s $1.4 million hotel tax revenue.

which accounts for plenty of the rooms booked in Turlock hotels each weekend, the university also helps keep hotels full thanks to visiting collegiate sports teams who stay in town to play the Warriors. These visitors, as well as guests who stay in hotels during overnight shopping trips, account for fullybooked Fridays and Saturdays at hotels in Turlock. Hotels are also full Mon-

days through Thursdays with business travelers, including companies with international presence like Sensient Natural Ingredients or Valley Milk. Companies from the domestic sector, such as Foster Farms, also have employees stay in Turlock. “The only night where we have consistently low occupancy in Turlock is Sunday night, then it converts back to business travel

from leisure,” Pitt said. In addition to the La Quinta hotel, a Home2 Suites by Hilton is also being constructed on Lander Avenue next to the existing Hampton Inn. The La Quinta hotel was recently named one of the top petfriendly hotel chains by USA Today, and the already-approved project is currently for sale and looking for a new investor.

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209 BUSINESS JOURNAL

5

NEWS

New homes in 2020 must have solar, mandate says BY ANGELINA MARTIN 209 Business Journal

Just weeks after California celebrated building one million solar energy systems on homes, schools, farms and businesses throughout the state, new legislation that went into effect Wednesday will ensure that number continues to grow. Under new rules adopted in 2018 by the California Energy Commission, starting Jan. 1, 2020, new homes must be constructed to generate solar electricity through panels typically placed on the home’s roof. The new mandate is expected to be a major step forward for California’s efforts to achieve 100 percent clean energy while giving consumers a more reliable source for their power, and is expected to zero out energy consumption in newly-constructed homes covered by the standards. The mandate goes into effect on the heels of a statewide celebration in December, which saw former Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown join local high school students, solar business leaders and workers,

renewable energy advocates and community leaders to rejoice in achieving one million solar roofs across California. In 2006, then-Gov. Schwarzenegger signed the Million Solar Roofs Initiative into law, which set the goal of one million solar energy systems that was ultimately reached in 2015. Today, California consumers have installed nearly nine gigawatts of solar energy, three-fold the original goal. Those nine gigawatts of solar energy — the size equivalent of six large natural gas power plants — generate more than 13 billion kilowatt-hours of clean electricity each year, avoiding 22 million tons of CO2, 16,000 tons of smogforming pollutants, over 350 billion cubic feet of natural gas and bypassing expensive and aging utility infrastructure. Due to this steady market growth, the price of solar energy has dropped 80 percent, paving the way for today’s solar home mandate. It is now more cost effective to include solar on the home than it is to build a home without solar. This has made solar de-

sirable among homeowners in Turlock, according to JKB Energy Director of Business Development Rich Borba, who also serves as the company’s lead policy expert and is a member of the California Solar and Storage Association’s Board of Directors. However, there are setbacks. “Solar is very popular and customers tend to be extremely satisfied, but this requirement — like any mandate — does add complexity and cost for homebuilders,” Borba said. The bill will affect the housing market, but ultimately ends up beneficial for the purchaser. “The upfront cost of a new home will increase, but over the life of the system will save the homeowner money as the investment is paid back,” Borba said. According to Borba, a typically solar system on a family home can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000. While he believes the new law is great for promoting cleaner energy, he admits solar isn’t a onesize-fits-all for homes. “Mandates tend to add cost. I love all the solar we

209 BUSINESS JOURNAL FILE PHOTO

Starting Jan. 1, 2020, new homes must be constructed to generate solar electricity through panels typically placed on the home’s roof.

have on homes and the things we do, but unfortunately there are going to be people priced out of buying a new home,” Borba said. “It’s like adding sprinklers to a home — it doesn’t seem like much, but there’s a cut off where some people wanting to purchase a home are going to be left behind.” Builders have been in-

stalling solar on roughly 15,000 new homes each year. The solar mandate will more than quadruple that figure, causing a boon in the new home solar market. The new 2020 energy standards apply to all new single-family homes and multi-family complexes up to three stories in height. The size of the solar system

installed must be based on the home’s floor area square footage and sized to meet the annual kilowatthour energy usage of the home. With the expansion of solar powered energy on the move, solar advocates are focusing on the next logical step: paring solar power SEE SOLAR, PAGE 9

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209 BUSINESS JOURNAL

6

NEWS

LATHROP GROWTH River Islands goes from zero to 5,500 people in 5½ years BY DENNIS WYATT 209 Business Journal

It took Lathrop 115 years to reach 5,500 residents after a post office was established in 1871. Compare that to River Islands — a planned community of 10,800 homes within Lathrop. River Islands is now home to roughly 5,500 people just 5 and a half years since the first home was sold in June of 2014. River Islands as of the end of 2019, has sold just over 2,000 homes with 1,800 having closed escrow. It is the largest planned community ever undertaken in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, If River Islands were a standalone community Manteca and Tracy would be the only cities in the 209 encompassing San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced, Calaveras, Tuolumne, and Mariposa counties that have built more new housing units on an annual basis for the last four years. Cambay Group — the developers of the 4,800-acre planned community — are preparing an amendment to the project as approved to allow the creation of three “smart villages” — a

HELLO

- ISSUE

around for the past three years, having previously been at 507 E. Center St. “People knew about us online or by word of mouth,” she said. Her personalized baskets are crafted to handle any occasion, from a job promotion to finalizing a divorce. Of course, there are gift ideas celebrating the holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, retirements, and other milestones. “There’s something here for everybody,” Gregory said. For more information, call ‘Hello Luv’ at (209) 609-9600.

product loaded with vitamins and caffeine for natural energy that are complemented by a wide selection of fruity flavors. “We didn’t see too many healthy options in Turlock, so we wanted to bring something that can help the community get healthy because that’s the new thing now,” Marcus Vasquez said. “We’re trying to get everybody on board.” Mariela and Marcus have always shared a passion for fitness, hosting bootcampstyle workouts for free with others who want to take control of their health. They also offer meal plan consul-

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transit village and two San Jose inspired Santana Rowstyle high density mixed developments where living, dining, shopping and play is all within walking distance. One will be at the town square with sweeping open space connecting to the San Joaquin River. The second would be at River Islands’ other retail area planned in the same area where River Islands High will break ground in 2020 along with a joint use community performing arts center. If approved it would bring the number of housing units envisioned to 14,000. That would support a population in excess of 40,000. That’s almost half of Manteca’s 85,000 population, while it is about three times larger than Ripon that today has 15,677 residents. There are a lot of design features that are luring new residents. They include: • Universal river access via a linear park along the edge of 14 miles of the San Joaquin River and delta habitat. That’s in addition to 400 acres of lakes within River Islands. • A park of some type within a quarter of a mile

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of every home in River Islands. • Service by an independent district that will provide electricity at rates ultimately 25 percent below what PG&E charges. The Lathrop Irrigation District currently offers rates 15 percent below PG&E rates. • Water sensors built into front yard landscaping. • Public schools designed with cutting edge 21st century education in mind, including one campus that was up and running well in advance of the first home even being sold — a rarity in California. They are now moving forward with construction of a second elementary school plus a high school. River Islands High is expected to open by 2022-2023. • A plan to make River Islands the Central Valley’s first transit community as Cambay Group is working on a plan that would put a Valley Link station adjacent to the development’s employment center on a proposed route that would ultimately connect to the BART station in Pleasanton-Dublin. • A plan to finance future maintenance costs for the community that caps tations at Nutrition Vibes, and hope to one day host workshops and fitness challenges at their new business. “We want to inspire people and promote nutrition,” Mariela said. Both Mariela and Marcus still work at their fulltime jobs in addition to running Nutrition Vibes, they said. They’re helped by their business partners, Mariela’s sister and brother-in-law Erika Chavez and Ramses Chaves, who already operate their own nutrition club called Shake it Up in Atwater. “They inspired us to make an impact on our community,” Mariela said. When searching for a location for Nutrition

18

per year

IMAGE CONTRIBUTED

Developers are planning for villages within the River Island community, which will include parks, dining and retail.

all taxes at 1.8 percent of a property’s value. That includes the base one percent property tax that is collected on all California homes now. The cap contrasts with other nearby developments where Mello-Roos taxes have risen to 3 percent of value and more as property values declined. • An in-place purple pipe system will use river water and treated wastewater to irrigate common landscaping — most of which is low water use — and parks. Given the water table and proximity of the river it fairly quickly cycles itself back to the river. Vibes, the couple knew they wanted to be downtown. While nothing was available right on Main Street, when their current location popped up for lease, they knew it was the perfect spot. Once they got the keys last December, the hard work began transforming the empty room into a safe haven for those who want a healthy meal option or a place to simply relax. “We wanted to make the spot more modern, so we have different walls for pictures for social media because you know how kids are,” Marcus said. “It’s a place where people can hang out and get healthy at the same time.”

• A marketing director is in place not to sell homes but to organize community activities ranging from Fourth of July celebrations complete with parades to farmers markets. That’s the short list of things River Islands — a development 28 years in the making — offers potential residents. Streets are being kept narrow to de-emphasize vehicles and slow traffic down. And instead of deploying traffic signals, most intersections where traffic volume is higher will have roundabouts. No sidewalks abut streets. Instead there are landscaped mow strips

between the curb and sidewalks. Long-term upkeep and maintaining standards aren’t being left to chance. Areas that traditionally are neglected in a neighborhood such as corners and other spots are not sold with lots. Instead they are kept in control of the community for common area maintenance and upkeep. Adequate water for the development of the entire project has been secured. The entire community has the highest level of flood protection possible — levees designed to withstand a 200-year event. They are the most secure levees of their type in the nation.

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209 BUSINESS JOURNAL

7

NEWS

Supercenter hopes stay alive in Ceres City planning director feels Walmart serious about doing project at Service & Mitchell roads BY JEFF BENZIGER 209 Business Journal

Ceres city officials remain hopeful that Walmart still intends to build the Supercenter project with its Mitchell Ranch Shopping Center despite the fact that building permits were issued in January and the site remains dormant. There has been speculation that Walmart has dropped the Ceres project after 11 years of planning and fights in the courts. But Tom Westbrook, director of Community Development for the city of Ceres, says there’s evidence that the company is moving forward. “They have engaged their engineers and their attorneys again to kind of get us rolling, in terms of getting improvement plans done, getting the final map adopted by the council, getting the subdivision improvement agreements adopted,” said Westbrook. “Those had all been worked on and then once we got to the issuance of the building permit, they’re like, ‘Well, the building permits’ valid for a two-year period so we don’t necessarily need

to be proceed with these other items yet because we’re not ready to build. So now they’ve come back and said, ‘Okay, now we want to proceed with the remaining items.’ That just gives me the sense that this project is going to build.” Walmart could ask for an extension if the building permits aren’t used before they are set to expire in January 2021. Westbrook is able to measure the length of the project planning process by his daughter. “My daughter will be 13 in April and she was born the week the application was filed,” said Westbrook. “It’s been a long time. There’s a lot of people who have a lot (of time) invested into it and I’m certainly one of them. I can’t wait for the groundbreaking to commence and I’m hoping that is within the beginning of next year sometime.” In March 2018 the Walmart Corporation submitted building plans and filed an application for a building permit for construction of the new Walmart Supercenter. First proposed in 2007

by Regency, the Mitchell Ranch project with its anchor tenant of a Walmart Supercenter has been held up for over a decade by a front group designed to block or delay new stores from developing in boilerplate fashion. It’s a story that has repeated itself numerous times in multiple communities in California. A similar waiting game is being played out in Porterville where a proposed Supercenter has been finally cleared for development after a decade and a half of legal protests over the project’s environmental studies – the same tactics used in Ceres. The Porterville Recorder published a story in July noting that: “Because talk about the Walmart Supercenter being built has been circulating in the community for years, this announcement has some Porterville residents wondering if it is actually going to happen this time around.” The Porterville store was first proposed in 2004. There are indications that Walmart may be reconsidering its building plan for new stores. According to

IMAGE CONTRIBUTED

City officials remain hopeful that this artist rendering of the proposed Walmart Supercenter for Service and Mitchell roads becomes a reality – along with i the Mitchell Ranch Shopping Center.

Yahoo! Finance, earlier this year Walmart had more than 3,500 supercenters in the nation. Walmart opened only 15 Supercenters in 2018 and only 10 nationwide this year. Last year Business Insider was calling Walmart’s shift from opening more supercenters to beefing up an online presence an inevitable shift in their business model – one that was needed to stay relevant in changing consumer demands and the shift to ecommerce. In April, Walmart announced plans to build new stores in California

and Florida and remodel a total of 157 stores in those states plus Texas, Arizona, Indiana and Pennsylvania. The projects include the retailer’s discount store, Supercenter and Neighborhood Market formats. California is home to 303 Walmart stores. On Aug. 7 the chain opened its newest Supercenter store in California in Tehachapi. Despite announcing in June that it was closing 17 stores in the United States and Canada – including one in San Jose – Walmart said it is investing $145 million in California this year. That includes the remodel-

ing of 21 stores, the launch of grocery delivery at 68 stores and addition of grocery pickup at 69 stores. Only the Supercenter itself is currently proposed for construction within the Mitchell Ranch Shopping Center in Ceres. Once construction starts – maybe the qualifier is if – the 185,682-square-foot Supercenter would precede plans for 10 other retail shops totaling 114,162 square feet, including three other major tenants and four smaller shops as well as a stand-alone retail building and two to three new restaurants.

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209 BUSINESS JOURNAL

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JANUARY 2020

NEWS

State releases draft of water resilience plan BY ANGELINA MARTIN

the combined effect will strengthen resilience and reduce pressure on river systems. The state also plans to protect our natural ecosystems through leadership, effectively setting standards, continuing investments and enacting more adaptive, holistic environmental management to restore the environmental health of key river systems, which serve as habitats for fish and wildlife vital to the area. State actions and investment included in the portfolio will improve physical infrastructure to store, move and share water more flexibly, thus building connections. The investments will also integrate management through shared use of science, data and technology — something the Turlock Irrigation District was pleased to see in the document. According to TID External Affairs Department Manager Josh Weimer, the water agency advocated strongly for the inclusion of technologies like new airborne snow survey tech and atmospheric river research in the portfolio. TID has been on the leading edge of water management data like this for years, he said, and is “encouraged” that these methods were included in the draft. “While we are still in the process of reviewing the

209 Business Journal

State agencies released a new water planning document that contains a number of recommendations to help California cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, declining fish populations, aging infrastructure and other challenges. The California Natural Resources Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency and California Department of Food and Agriculture developed the full draft of the water resilience portfolio, fulfilling Gov. Gavin Newsom’s April 29 executive order calling for a portfolio of actions to ensure the state’s longterm water resilience and ecosystem health. The draft was shaped by months of public input and outlines more than 100 integrated actionable recommendations in four broad areas: maintain and diversify water supplies, protect and enhance natural ecosystems, build connections and be prepared. In order to maintain and diversify water supplies, the state government will continue to help regions reduce reliance on any one water source and diversify supplies to enable flexibility amidst changing conditions. Diversification will look different in each region based on available water resources, but

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ment of key aspects of California water, soliciting broad input from tribes, agencies, individuals, groups, and leaders across the state. An interagency working group considered the assessment and input from more than 20 public listening sessions across the state and more than 100 substantive comment letters. “From Northern California to the Central Valley and the South, Californians from cities, farms, and other sectors are working together to develop

innovative solutions to the climate-related water challenges that the state is already experiencing and that are expected to worsen,” said California Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Jared Blumenfeld. “This draft portfolio is an important step toward building resilience to ensure the longterm health of our water supplies and ecosystems.” Members of the public will be able to submit written feedback on the draft portfolio through Feb. 7. A final water resilience port-

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One area of the state’s water recommendations is to help regions reduce reliance on any one source of drinking water. Construction has already started on parts of the regional surface water project that includes the cities of Turlock and Ceres west of Fox Grove Fishing Access and south of the Tuolumne River. The project would supplement Turlock’s ground water supply with treated river water.

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portfolio, one element that caught our attention was the inclusion of the use of emerging technologies,” Weimer said. “Water resiliency, reliability and sustainability are foundational elements that have guided TID for over 130 years.” Ultimately, one of the most important facets of the portfolio is planning for the future. The state — and its individual regions — must prepare for new threats, including more extreme droughts and floods and hotter temperatures. State investments and guidance will enable preparation, protective actions and adaptive management to weather these stresses. “This draft portfolio has been shaped to provide tools to local and regional entities to continue building resilience and to encourage collaboration within and across regions,” Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said. “At the same time, state government needs to invest in projects of statewide scale and importance and tackle challenges beyond the scope of any region. Taken together, the proposed actions aim to improve our capacity to prepare for disruptions, withstand and recover from shocks, and adapt from these experiences.” To develop the portfolio, state agencies conducted an inventory and assess-

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folio will be released soon after that. “State agencies are only one set of water decisionmakers in California,” CDFA Secretary Karen Ross said. “Continuing to improve our water systems relies on collaboration across all groups of water users and all stakeholders. Accordingly, feedback on this draft will be important to refining and finalizing our portfolio.” Information on how to submit written feedback on the draft can be found at WaterResilience.ca.gov.


209 BUSINESS JOURNAL

9

BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS AT WORK

Marketing strategies for small business owners STAFF REPORTS 209 Business Journal

Small businesses are the backbones of many local communities. Such businesses have helped to revitalize many communities and may benefit communities in ways that would surprise even the most ardent small businesses supporters. Economists at Penn State University studied data on economic growth and residence status of business owners that was from more than 2,900 rural and urban communities. The re-

SOLAR

FROM PAGE 5 with solar battery storage. Current solar and battery technologies are transforming the future of energy and creating new opportunities for California to reach 100% clean, renewable energy. The ability to store energy for use when and where it is needed is a simple but revolutionary step forward for consumers. With today’s batteries, homeowners and businesses can store solar energy for use after sundown or during a blackout. This smooths out prices, takes pressure off the electric grid, and gives consumers a degree of reliability unheard of a few years ago. The California Public Utili-

searchers found that small, locally owned businesses tend to generate higher incomes for community residents than large, non-local firms. Small businesses can be vital to the success of a community, and those businesses’ own success may depend on how well they can market themselves to potential customers. The Small Business Administration notes that only one-third of small businesses will survive 10 years. Those that reach that benchmark often find ways

to market themselves and grow revenue. Whether a small business owner is just starting out or looking to continue growing, these marketing strategies can be effective ways to connect with customers. Take advantage of the free Google listing service. Google My Business is a free service that allows business owners to manage how their business appears across Google, including on its Search and Map services. A Google listing is essentially the new phonebook listing, as the

ties Commission recently proposed expanding rebates for consumers to add a battery to their home, whether for new or existing homes, with a great emphasis on disadvantaged communities facing the threat of blackouts. Solar and storage advocates applaud the availability of rebates and urge the state to make them available to all consumers to help drive down the cost of batteries and reach the state’s clean energy goals. Having successfully reached the One Million Solar Roofs goal and enacted the new home solar mandate, solar advocates are calling for one million solarcharged batteries in California by 2025.

The world is

‘Local Consumer Review Survey 2018’ from the marketing experts at BrightLocal found that 27 percent of consumers looked online daily for local businesses in 2018. That’s more than double the number of people who did so in 2017, suggesting that more and more consumers are finding local businesses via internet searches every day. Pay attention to your online reviews. Online reviews can be a mixed bag for business owners and consumers, but reviews still bear considerable

customers. Such events tend to attract residents of the community and even those from neighboring towns, providing ample opportunities for small businesses to connect with new customers. Make your presence known on social media. A 2017 survey from the social media specialists at Sprout Social found that 58 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social media than they are to buy from one they do not follow.

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weight among the latter. The BrightLocal survey found that 50 percent of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 always read online reviews when shopping for goods or services. Consumers are most likely to read restaurant reviews, but small businesses, regardless of their industries, can benefit from positive online reviews. Take part in local festivals. Local events such as Oktoberfest festivals and holiday shopping bazaars provide great opportunities to connect with new

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JANUARY 2020

NEWS

LAWS

FROM PAGE 1 mandate” implemented under the federal Affordable Care Act. Penalties for those who do not enroll in a healthcare plan won’t go into effect until taxes are filed in 2021. Under the first law of its kind in the U.S., some undocumented young adults will be eligible to receive health insurance through the state’s Medicaid program. Previously only undocumented immigrant children could apply, but now California will offer government subsidized health benefits for undocumented immigrants under the age of 26. Signed by Newsom over the summer, the bill is expected to cost nearly $100 million a year and cover an additional 90,000 people. New housing protections and regulations will also go into effect this year, including a limit on annual rent increases by five percent. Landlords will also be required to provide a “just cause” when evicting tenants who have been renting for a year or more. Local governments will also be prohibited from down-

zoning thanks to a new law that will either place a moratorium on development or lower the number of housing units permitted. This will speed up the permitting process for development and will sunset after five years. “About a third of California renters pay more than half of their income to rent and are one emergency away from losing their housing,” Gov. Newsom said when signing the bills. “One essential tool to combating this crisis is protecting renters from pricegouging and evictions. The bills signed into law today are among the strongest in the nation to protect tenants and support working families.” Homeowners will soon find it easier to build Accessory Dwelling Units, more commonly known as in-law units or granny flats, thanks to legislation that removes standards on lot coverage and gets rid of requirements on minimum lot size. In education, a new law will overhaul how the state authorizes its charter schools. The legislation will allow school districts to consider the impact to the community and the neigh-

borhood schools when reviewing applications for charter schools, and also requires their teachers to be credentialed. In addition, public and charter schools will now be banned from suspending students in grades four through eight for disruptive behavior. Previously, only students in grades one through three were protected from suspension for such behavior. Animals will receive new protections in California in 2020 as well, with the first law of its kind in the country prohibiting the sale and production of new fur products going into effect this year. Also, circus acts are now banned from using wild animals like bears, elephants, tigers and monkeys in their shows. “California is a leader when it comes to animal welfare, and today that leadership includes banning the sale of fur,” Newsom said in a statement. “But we are doing more than that. We are making a statement to the world that beautiful wild animals like bears and tigers have no place on trapeze wires or jumping through flames.” Reporter Jason Campbell contributed to this story.

ADDITIONAL NEW LAWS IN CALIFORNIA AB 375: Data privacy for consumers - This bill will grant a consumer a right to request a business including Facebook and Google to disclose the pieces of personal information that it collects about the consumer, the categories of sources from which that information is collected, the business purposes for collecting or selling the information, and the categories of third parties with which the information is shared. The bill would require a business to make disclosures about the information and the purposes for which it is used. The bill would grant a consumer the right to request deletion of personal information and would require the business to delete upon receipt of a verified request, as specified. SB 30: Domestic partnership expansion - Existing law defines domestic partnership as two adults who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring. Existing law specifies requirements for entering into a domestic partnership, including that the domestic partners be either of the same sex or of the opposite sex and over 62 years of age. This bill removes the requirement that persons be of the same sex or of the

opposite sex and over 62 years of age in order to enter into a domestic partnership.

SB 1343: Sexual harassment training - This bill will require that employers must provide sexual harassment training to all employees.

bill would deem denial of reasonable break time or adequate space to express milk a failure to provide a rest period in accordance with state law. The bill would prohibit an employer from discharging, or in any other manner discriminating or retaliating against, an employee for exercising or attempting to exercise rights under these provisions and would establish remedies that include filing a complaint with the Labor Commissioner. The bill would authorize employers with fewer than 50 employees to seek an exemption from the requirements of these provisions if the employer demonstrates that the requirement posed an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense, as specified. The bill would require an employer who obtains an exemption to make a reasonable effort to provide a place for an employee to express milk in private, as specified.

SB 142: Lactation rooms at work - This bill would require an employer to provide a lactation room or location that includes prescribed features like a sink and refrigerator in close proximity to the employee’s workspace, as specified. The

SB 188: CROWN Act: Hairbased discrimination - This bill prevents discrimination in workplaces and schools based on traits historically associated with race, including certain hairstyles such as braids, twists and locks.

AB 205: Definition of ‘beer’ - This bill will revise the definition of “beer” for purposes of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act to provide that beer may be produced using honey, fruit, fruit juice, fruit concentrate, herbs, spices, and other food materials, as adjuncts in fermentation. AB 588: Dog bite disclosure - This bill would require an animal shelter inform people if a dog over the age of four months bit a person and broke that person’s skin. AB 9: Workplace harassment complaints - This bill increases the time limit to file a complaint of workplace harassment or discrimination with the state Dept. of Fair Employment & Housing from one year to three.

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209 BUSINESS JOURNAL

TAX

FROM PAGE 2 levels and perhaps even lower exemptions. For this reason, you should discuss with your accountant or tax advisor gifting strategies that can be implemented now to reduce the value of your taxable estate. Mansion Taxes. A growing number of states are adopting taxes on sales of high-end real property,

known as mansion taxes, beginning in 2020. Effective July 1, 2020, Connecticut will impose an additional 2.25% tax on real estate taxes in excess of $2.5 million, while New York has adopted a progressive mansion tax with a top tax rate of 3.90% on properties purchased for $25 million or more. California. Do you have independent contractors or gig-economy workers in California? Effective Jan. 1,

2020, a new law (known as Assembly Bill 5 or A.B.5) reclassifies many of them as employees for tax and labor law purposes, meaning you will have to start withholding payroll taxes and provide them with a minimum wage, expense reimbursements, employee benefits, rest breaks and the other benefits afforded to employees under California state law — or fire them.

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