Oracle buys San Mateo Marriott

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By Kathleen Pender –

The Marriott deal deal is part of Oracle Corp.’s expansion into the hospitality business.
Oracle Corp. has purchased the 476-room Marriott Hotel in San Mateo for $132 million, in part to use for training its direct-sales staff.

The hotel will continue to operate as a Marriott and be open to the public, even during an extensive renovation that the Redwood City software company plans to undertake.
“We were finding it more and more difficult to find space to conduct our training,” said Mike Bangs, Oracle’s vice president for headquarters real estate and facilities.

“We generally hire college graduates and train them for two to three weeks,” up to 300 people at a time, two or three times per year, Bangs said. The company likes to house them near its headquarters, which is about 4 miles away. It also will use the hotel for other company events.

The hotel is on South Amphlett Boulevard near Highways 92 and 101.

Bangs said the deal, which closed Wednesday, is also part of Oracle’s expansion into the hospitality business. In 2014, it purchased Micros Systems, which provides software for hotels and restaurants.

The hotel was purchased through Hospitality Investment LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Oracle. The previous owner was Atrium Plaza, a limited liability company owned by Tarsadia Investments of Newport Beach (Orange County).

MORE BY KATHLEEN PENDER

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a gathering with military leaders and veterans at the new Trump International Hotel in Washington, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. Trump releases more tax plan details, but questions remain A woman holds up a sign against gun violence, during a vigil to commemorate victims of the Orlando massacre, in San Francisco, California, on Sunday, June 12, 2016. SF pension board votes to dump gun and ammo stocks, almost SAN FRANCISCO, CA – MAY 17: Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf speaks at the Bay Area Council Outlook Conference on May 17, 2016 in San Francisco, California. In January, the investment research company Morningstar named as its 2015 CEO of the year Stumpf, who beat out two other nominees Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Jeff Immelt of General Electric. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) In scandal’s wake, Wells Fargo ends product sales goals Rent control spreading to Bay Area suburbs, to economists’
This is Oracle’s first hotel purchase. Larry Ellison, the company’s executive chairman, personally owns several hotels, including the Four Seasons Resort on the Hawaiian island of Lanai and the Epiphany Hotel in Palo Alto.

The San Mateo Marriott is operated by Evolution Hospitality under the Marriott franchise, Bangs said.

Evolution will continue to operate the hotel and it will remain a Marriott under a long-term franchise agreement that is transferable if Oracle decides to sell it. Bangs would not say whether Oracle plans to purchase any more hotels.

The Marriott also has contracts with airlines that use the hotel to house crews, which also will continue.

Oracle rival Salesforce has also used the hotel for training and to house visitors to its Dreamforce conference. Bangs could not say whether that will continue.

Kathleen Pender is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Email: kpender@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @kathpender

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Small & modern 430 sq. ft. starter home is built with Passive House principles in mind 

by Kimberley Mok

Living Big In A Tiny House

© Living Big In A Tiny House

Small homes can have a bit more widespread appeal relative to tiny homes. Compared to tiny houses that top out at only around a couple hundred square feet or so, small homes — which typically measure 400 square feet and up — won’t be as cramped for families, yet would still present significant savings in maintenance, not to mention making home ownership much more in affordable reach compared to a much larger-sized home.

It’s this idea of the small and affordable “starter home” that led Paul Hennessy of Park Homes in Christchurch, New Zealand to build this ultra-modern 43 x 10 feet small home on wheels according to Passive House principles — super-insulating it as well as ensuring excellent heat recovery ventilation. Bryce of Living Big in A Tiny House gets a tour of this attractive small home:

First off, the exterior of this small home is quite striking: its shiny black skin is actually aluminum composite panel (ACP), a material that is often used for billboards (according to some YouTube commenters, there are some potential fire safety and durability concerns with this material). The walls are made with structural insulated panels (SIPs). The wheels of the trailer base have been cleverly hidden from view using a ‘skirt’ made from the same material. The dog’s shelter has been conveniently incorporated under the entry deck.

Living Big In A Tiny HouseLiving Big In A Tiny House/Video screen capture
Living Big In A Tiny HouseLiving Big In A Tiny House/Video screen capture
Living Big In A Tiny House© Living Big In A Tiny House

Stepping inside, a much larger, open living room and kitchen greets visitors — it’s amazing what a few extra square feet can do to open up a space. The interior was designed by Paul’s wife, Pascale, who came up with a sleek, modern look. In the kitchen, they’ve replaced the standard, unsightly bulk of the kitchen hood with a minimalist slit built into the wall that sucks cooking odours outside.

Living Big In A Tiny House© Living Big In A Tiny House
Living Big In A Tiny House© Living Big In A Tiny House
Living Big In A Tiny HouseLiving Big In A Tiny House/Video screen capture
Living Big In A Tiny HouseLiving Big In A Tiny House/Video screen capture
Living Big In A Tiny House© Living Big In A Tiny House

A small hallway leads to the office/second bedroom, bathroom and master bedroom. Though a hallway might seem like wasted space here, Hennessey says that the idea is to make it feel like any regular home with corridors.

Living Big In A Tiny HouseLiving Big In A Tiny House/Video screen capture

The bathroom is decently appointed in size, and visually enlarged with an extra-big mirror.

Living Big In A Tiny House© Living Big In A Tiny House

The master bedroom is relatively big, allowing enough space for the inhabitants to walk around the bed, and enough storage space for clothing. Another nice touch is the storage hidden under the bed itself.

Living Big In A Tiny House© Living Big In A Tiny House
Living Big In A Tiny HouseLiving Big In A Tiny House/Video screen capture

Hennessey explains that the idea here was to create an affordable “starter home” that would feel like a real, regular house, or perhaps a stepping stone before building or moving onto a larger home. He estimates that a basic version would cost about USD $55,000 to make, which is pretty decent for 430 square feet that’s also earthquake-resistant.

It’s admittedly not as mobile as a tiny home on wheels — this portable small home is only meant to be moved around on the same piece of property and going on the road would require it to be lifted onto a flatbed truck. So for people leery of the teeny size of tiny homes and their transient status on wheels, this is one small home that addresses these issues, using a few clever design ideas to make it feel more permanent and less trailer-like, and more modern. More over at Living Big in A Tiny House and Park Homes NZ.

Tags: Less Is More | Living With Less | New Zealand | Small Spaces | video

Governor signs law to eliminate restrictions on granny flats

 

California homeowners wishing to build a secondary unit in their backyard now have to navigate fewer regulatory headaches from local government.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation on Tuesday that removes some building requirements for so-called granny flats.

The law provides a range of changes meant to hasten the building of secondary units in order to increase California’s affordable housing supply. For example, local governments can no longer demand that homeowners provide additional parking and an uncovered pathway to the street.

The law “returns more power to homeowners and reins in some of the enormous fees and requirements levied by local agencies,” said state Sen. Bob Wieckowski, a Fremont Democrat, in a statement on Tuesday.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1069, was sponsored by the Bay Area Council, a San Francisco-based business group. The council believes the law has the potential to create “thousands affordable, accessory dwelling units statewide without any taxpayer subsidies,” said council CEO Jim Wunderman in a statement.

“It’s a critical part of the solution to our state housing crisis,” he said.

The law takes effect in January.

Renters unite to demand affordable housing

The lack of affordable housing across the country has gained increasing attention in recent months. A report released earlier this year by the personal finance website SmartAsset found that in 12 of the top 15 US cities, rents had increased from 2015 to 2016. In some places, rent prices skyrocketed; San Francisco, Seattle and Miami all had increases of over 7 percent. In Los Angeles, average rental rates went up 17 percent.

Activists and renters nationwide are agitating around these issues on Thursday, September 22, to draw attention to what they are calling a “National Renter State of Emergency.” Over 50 protests, marches and other activities are occurring in more than 45 cities for the “Renters Day of Action,” with tenants coming together to put forward a list of national and local demands.

Organized by the housing coalition Homes for All, the national campaign is seeking a broad list of changes, including a national rent freeze, a freeze on all unjust evictions, and community control over land and housing. The campaign’s demands also include the right of tenants to organize and bargain collectively without fear of discrimination, retaliation or eviction.

For some local actions, evictions are the main focus. Antonio Gutierrez, an organizer with the Chicago’s Autonomous Tenants Union, said his group planned their protest at Daley Plaza, where all the city’s eviction cases are heard. In 2012, Chicago had more than 32,000 evictions in the city. (This statistic is from four years ago becauseit can be hard to track eviction numbers; the federal government has not recorded these numbers in past years and court records are incomplete and hard to navigate). “The process itself is very rapid and it’s always siding with the landlord or the landlady,” Gutierrez said. Tenants have very little opportunity to advocate for themselves. Housing advocates have also noted that cases in eviction court are not being properly recorded, making it nearly impossible to make an appeal.

Who Faces Eviction?

In Chicago, as with other cities, Gutierrez finds that women and their children are disproportionately affected by rising eviction rates. “We definitely see a pattern of single mothers and women with their kids being the target of these evictions,” he said. “We see a lot of kind of discriminatory policies that are happening, in terms of new companies coming into neighborhoods that are populated mostly by people of color, evicting them, and then getting new tenants that are of a different class, and sometimes racial background.”

Matthew Desmond, a sociologist whose recent book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, helped bring national attention to the housing crisis, had similar findings. In a 2015 report, Desmond notes that low-income women, in particular Black women, are at high risk of eviction. In Milwaukee, one in five Black women reported being evicted at some point, compared to one in 15 white women, or one in 12 Latina women, according to Desmond’s research.

Eviction doesn’t just impact one’s housing, it destabilizes communities and families, often forcing kids to leave their schools. Desmond found that “workers who involuntarily lost their housing were roughly 20 percent more likely to subsequently lose their jobs.” The study also ties eviction to mental health problems and future difficulty with finding alternate housing and/or employment, as being evicted through the court system leaves a tenant with that judgment on their record.

Knowing Your Rights

Felicia Alston-Singleton, a tenant advocate in Newark, New Jersey, got involved with her work as an organizer after successfully fighting her own eviction with the city’s housing authority. Several years ago, she said the housing authority fixed a problem with backed-up sewage in her unit.

“They fixed it but then my walls started turning green,” she said. “So I stopped paying rent.” She went to court every month for seven months until finally a decision was made in her favor. They dismissed her case and gave her back her rent money.

Alston-Singleton educated herself along the way, oftentimes Googling information she didn’t know. “It was very inspiring… to know that I did have rights,” she said. “So I said, ‘If I can do this for myself, let’s do it for my complex’ … And then other people started calling me.”

For the “Renters Day of Action,” Alston-Singleton is taking part in Newark’s 36-hour demonstration outside of City Hall. She plans to be at City Hall for the duration of the event. Activists and renters are calling on city officials to pass a rent control ordinance and to implement existing protections, like maintaining the city’s affordable housing. Alston-Singleton said the city has been tearing down subsidized housing and replacing it with luxury units. “They are making it unaffordable,” she said.

Indeed, last week the developer Dranoff Properties closed on $116 million in financing to build a high-rise luxury apartment building in downtown Newark.According to The Wall Street Journal, apartments in the building “are expected to rent at $2,000 a month for a one-bedroom and $4,500 a month for a three-bedroom.”

Anthony Romano, a national organizing director with Homes for All’s Right to the City Alliance, noted that one of the campaign’s goals for the September 22 action is getting people familiarized with their rights as tenants. “We needed to unite and have a day where we can really lift up our collective voice,” Romano said, “and to lift up our solutions.”

Gentrification Threatens Tenants

In some cities, gentrification is the most pressing issue tenants are facing. Tenant organizers in Minneapolis are leading people on a tour of the city’s light rail today, pointing out recent areas of gentrification. These activists are part of Defend Glendale, a group working to defend Glendale Townhomes Public Housing, which is under threat of demolition. Ladan Yusuf, who lives in Glendale, said the housing units are in the middle of an affluent neighborhood and property value has gone up since the light rail went in nearby. “We found out through the grapevine,” she said, that the city wanted to demolish Glendale. “We’re fighting to keep our homes.”

She is one of 30 tenant leaders from the housing complex, where she says most residents are people of color and about 60 percent are immigrants. “We are seeing huge amounts of displacement right now,” Yusuf said. A lot of families are finding it hard to find affordable housing in the city.

“Gentrification is really happening here and Betsy Hodges isn’t doing anything about it,” Yusuf said of Minneapolis’ mayor. “A lot of working-class families feel that she is not on our side.”

Growing Population of Renters

Romano pointed out that the number of people affected by rent increases is growing as fewer people are owning homes. “It’s an economic reality,” Romano said. “People just don’t have the money to buy homes.” He believes landlords and the real estate lobby are taking advantage of the increased number of renters by jacking up the cost of rent.

“We don’t lightly use the term ‘state of emergency’,” Romano said. “‘State of emergency’ is used because of the sheer quantity of people suffering and the severity of that suffering.” A 2016 Harvard study found that the number of renters who are “cost burdened” rose by 3.6 million from 2008 to 2014, to a total of 21.3 million households. The Department of Housing and Urban Development considers a family to be cost burdened if they pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing. To put this in perspective, the number of people who rent has increased by 9 million between 2005 and 2015, an earlier Harvard study noted, making it “the largest 10-year gain on record.” In the same period, renters who are severely rent burdened, meaning they pay more than 50 percent of their income for housing, went from 2.1 million to a record 11.4 million.

The organizers of the September 22 actions know that spreading the word about these issues and about tenants’ rights is an important first step and the Renters Day of Action is intended to broaden awareness while bringing impacted people together. “When you are going through something and you meet someone else going through it, you don’t feel so alone,” Alston-Singleton said. “Then you’re ready to fight.”

– See more at: http://www.american-apartment-owners-association.org/property-management/latest-news/renters-unite-demand-affordable-housing/#sthash.rMRlqvGz.dpuf

How to Get Your Residents To Pay Rent Online

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by  –

While many property management companies have been offering an online rental payment option to residents for years, there are just as many who currently do not. While technology savvy individuals often jump at the chance to pay rent online, many management companies that currently do offer this option have found that only a fraction of their residents actually utilize an online rental payment option.

The benefits are clear to property management companies; online payments tend to be more timely, the hassle of locating lost checks, stamping checks, and making bank runs becomes obsolete, and the time spent collecting on NSF checks is reduced to zero.

So if you’re considering offering this service to your residents, or want to increase the number of residents that take advantage of it, consider the following.

Appeal to procrastinators!
Being able to pay rent online allows residents who typically wait until the last minute to pay their rent the opportunity to do so – without incurring a late charge in the process.

Inform residents of the advantages of paying online.
Advantages include the ability to view a comprehensive rent payment history, and the option to schedule the rental payment. Some services offer an automatic debit from your account monthly, so residents can simply set up the amount and the date of the direct debit, and not have to think about it again.

Consider offering an incentive for signing up.

Everyone likes to get things for free, so you may want to consider dangling a $5.00- $10.00 gift card to a neighborhood merchant as an incentive.

Make it a contest.
Enter the names of all those signing up for online rental payments during the month in a drawing. Dinner for two or a $50.00 gas card may persuade reluctant residents to sign up.

Make it required.
If none of these work, consider implementing online rental payment as the required standard in payments. Rather than making it a requirement for all residents, impose the new standard on all new residents and establish a date that current residents must comply. You could also tack on a fee to residents who choose to continue to pay their rent with paper checks. Be sure to check with local and state agencies to determine if your property management company can legally impose this restrictionon residents.

While some residents will always prefer to pay rent by check or money order, others find the ability to pay rent quickly and easily online an added bonus, not a detriment.

Silicon Valley tech firm is lured away to Sacramento

 

SupportPay, which was introduced Thursday as the latest company recruited to the Sacramento region by the Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council, is leasing space at a former tomato canning plant in East Sacramento known as The Cannery.

The company, which offers an app for monitoring child-related expenses and transacting child-support payments, relocated to the building from Santa Clara on Aug. 24. SupportPay now has 13 employees and plans to add up to 300 over the next three years, founder and CEO Sheri Atwood said at a press conference Thursday. It was founded in 2011.


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The company is generating annual revenue of about $2 million. It hopes to achieve $300 million in annual revenue in the next three years, Atwood said. She said that company’s cloud-based service will tap into a $6 billion market for services to state governments to process child support.

The states “need a modern approach, something based in the cloud,” Atwood said.

Developer Mark Friedman described the startup as a poster child for the kind of high-tech firms that he hopes will fill the 50,000 square feet of available space at The Cannery, a mixed-use development with a modernized industrial design.

SupportPay is “innovative and rapidly growing,” said Friedman, president ofFulcrum Property, a management company that operates The Cannery.

“It benefits from being in Sacramento because so much of its business involves understanding regulations and understanding the legal system,” he said.

Friedman also is a board member of the Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council.

Fulcrum is finalizing leases with several other technology firms to occupy the remaining 40,000 square feet of available space at The Cannery.

SupportPay will take 6,000 square feet, with an option to expand to 10,000 square feet.

The company is currently trying to raise $5 million in a series A venture capital round, Atwood said. Investors in the round include San Mateo-based Draper Associates, cloud computing pioneer Salesforce.com Inc. and Sacramento venture capitalist Dave Sanders.

The Cannery is located at Alhambra and Stockton boulevards. Most of the space is occupied by a satellite office of University of California Davis, where it operates a telemedicine unit, Friedman said.

Good Tips on setting HOA Budgets-It’s That Time of Year!

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Good Tips on setting HOA Budgets-It’s  That Time of Year! Boards, you need to be thinking about these things!!

Below is an article from a follower of the Condo Guru site. He offered to write an article or blog and sent it to me. I took a look and it is helpful information. I asked for the 5th grader’s version because that is what readers ask me for, meaning it needs to be uncomplicated and easy to understand, and not an advertisement for a company. That is my criteria for accepting information for blogs. I always want to include the author and something about them but don’t want that to be the main focus of the article. I don’t sell advertising, I offer helpful information, and I believe this is. Not every manager or HOA or accountant will agree with this as we all have our perspectives on the best way to do business, but some boards are starting from scratch and ask for guidance, not knowing where to begin. I think Gary offers a reasonable process.

Also keep in mind that there are two things on my website at www.californiacondoguru.com that can also help an association, and one is written especially for small HOAs who have trouble affording and/or finding services. These publications are PDFs that can be sent out almost immediately and shared among Board Members. They are: THE DAVIS STIRLING ACT IN PLAIN ENGLISH (this second part is the important one – IN PLAIN ENGLISH), and THE SMALL HOA SURVIVAL GUIDE (which has an entire accounting 101 chapter).

My republishing of this Article written by Gary is not specifically an endorsement because I have not worked with Gary, but thank you Gary for taking the time to write down this information for my readers. I KNOW that most will appreciate it. I inserted one comment in [ ] for your information. You can find Gary’s information at the end.

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“If a homeowner’s association is going to be successful, it needs a strong board of directors. The directors need to understand their roles and pursue their goals with passion.

For a board of directors to be successful, they need to understand the weaknesses and strengths of the association. Board members also need to understand the history of the association and what needs to be accomplished. Homeowner’s associations need to take responsibility for their assets and operations. They must also make sure they’re in compliance with local ordinances, federal law, state law and governing documents.

Homeowner’s associations that have a January through December budget year have a limited amount of time to create a budget for the coming year. Once the budget is created, it must be approved before the year-end mailing event. [Side note here from BG – this usually means board approval, most documents in California do not require owner approval of the budget, but some do, and some HOAs do it  anyway, especially the smaller ones who want to keep the grumbling to a minimum.]

A homeowner’s association must have a budget committee, and the committee can be comprised of members of the community association, HOA board members or a combination of both. For many, it’s a mystery as to how the budget committee actually works. The good news is that it’s not too difficult to understand.

The Roles of the Accountants and Treasurers

The board treasurer chairs the budget committee. As the chair of the budget committee, the treasurer is obligated to make sure everyone stays on track while the budget is being created. Another job that the treasurer is trusted with is presenting the budget to board members for approval.

If a homeowner’s association decides to work with an accountant, the accountant can offer the board consulting services. However, when it comes to deciding the budget, the account doesn’t play a specific role. Depending on the association in question, the creation of the budget could be entrusted to a management company.

Once the management company has devised the budget, the budget committee meets with the management company and reviews the budgets. During this meeting, adjustments might be made to the budget.

Who is supposed to be on the Budget Committee?

It’s not uncommon for owners to serve on the budget committee, but if they do decide to serve on the committee, they should only represent a cross-section of the whole community.

Many of the members who might decide to serve have expertise constructing very specific areas of the budget, and these skills are very useful to the whole community. As a general guideline, the committee shouldn’t be allowed to grow large enough to become unwieldy because this can cause a wide range of management problems.

What Does The Committee Do?

It’s important to understand that the budget is comprised of three major components, and the role of the treasurer is to make sure that every committee member comprehends the components.

The components are:

The Funds Needs for Daily Community Operations

Funds must be set aside for the daily operation of the community. For example, funds are needed for general maintenance, insurance, management, grounds maintenance, water and electricity. These expenses can be estimated based on personal experience, or they can be contractual in nature.

When examining items found in the operating budget, it’s important to consider the community expectations. For example, do members wish to hire a landscaper who blows, mows leaves the property?

It might be assumed that this is the type of landscaper that should be hired, but in reality, members might prefer to hire a landscaper that provides a greater level of service.

The Funds Needed to Maintain a Sufficient Level of Reserves

Another major component of the budget consists of funds needed to keep reserves high. The reserves are important because they provide money for the repair of streets, roofs, pools and other community assets. Without sufficient reserves, it’s impossible to keep assets in good repair or provide money for replacement.

The Funds Required for Enhancements or Additions to Existing Property

This component of the budget is directly tied to what community members want and would be willing to pay money for. For this component, the HOA board has the power to solicit owners and gather approval for adjustments. An HOA accounting company can help with this task.

Once the budget committee has acquired all of the knowledge available to them, they’ll estimate the total amount of expenses for the coming year. Next, the total sum of the expenses will be compared to the total potential revenues from the homeowner’s association.

The committee is responsible for finding ways to reduce expenses while keeping the quality of service as high as possible. If these strategies aren’t capable of properly balancing the budget, then some tough decisions must be made.

When the committee fails to balance the budget, they might have to levy a special assessment or recommend increasing assessments.

Gary Simpson  Marketing Director for Clark Simson Miller , and a link in there for http://www.clarksimsonmiller.com. Their claim to fame: “We service communities nationwide, we are the pioneer of remote management for HOA’s (finance and back office support + accounting).