While contractors take care of business each day, important discussions about them and their work are taking place. For those who must be ‘on the job’ and are unable to attend these meetings of the California Contractor’s State License Board (CSLB) this will be a ‘good read’ as you learn of improved efforts to keep the playing field level and unlicensed contractors ‘off the job’…
The CSLB recently held its quarterly meeting in San Jose. As part of a new information-sharing program, the Board has instituted an “Industry Update”. Larry Rohlfes, Assistant Executive Director of the CA Landscape Contractors Association, was one of the featured speakers. He discussed his Association’s work with the Board; efforts to combat unlicensed contractors; and how the issue of immigration reform might affect the construction industry.
During the Enforcement Program Update, the head of Enforcement, David Fogt, highlighted efforts the CSLB is making to partner with local city attorney offices such as Los Angeles and Ventura. These efforts have resulted in streamlining prosecution of unlicensed contracting cases. Between the two jurisdictions, over 200 cases were filed in 2007 resulting in a majority of convictions and close to $1 million dollars in restitution awarded to consumers who had been ripped off. There are still a number of open cases and pending bench warrants, which upon conviction, could result in an additional $770,000 restitution in Ventura County alone.
It was reported that there has been a reduction of illegal contracting activities in disaster areas including the Angora fires in Lake Tahoe in June and the wild fires throughout Southern California late last year. This can be attributed to the Board’s proactive approach including: educating homeowners; partnering with relevant local, state and federal agencies; participating in community forums and conducting Sweeps throughout the affected areas.
It was also reported that the Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) closed out 2007 with a record number of stings (51) and sweeps (60) resulting in over 1000 legal actions against unlicensed individuals (also a record!).
Fingerprinting continues as it has since the program started in January 2005. This has resulted in over 20 thousand reports (from DOJ/ FBI) that an applicant had a criminal conviction in his or her past (even though it may have been minor, expunged or decades ago). The Board has denied 726 applications (1/2 of 1% of all applicants).
Know Your (CSLB) Board Members.
The Contractors State License Board is part of the State Department of Consumer Affairs. This is a 15 member Board consisting of 9 public members, 5 contractor members and 1 labor representative. They direct administrative policy and appoint the executive officer, or Registrar of Contractors. For the next several months, I’ll periodically highlight one current Board member.
Ed Lang is a public member from Rancho Cordova (in Sacramento County). Governor Schwarzenegger appointed him in January 2007 and his term continues through June 1, 2010. He retired as a supervisor for the Franchise Tax Board where he worked in various positions for over 20 years. Previously he was an adult education instructor for the Folsom Cordova Unified School District from 1976 to 1982 and served in the Air Force from 1960 to 1980. Mr. Lang also serves on the Board of Directors for the InterCity Housing Corporation.