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CSSA 2017 Year In Review

Wednesday, December 27, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Erin King
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CSSA Keeps Busy on Many Fronts (Successfully) in 2017

We often gasp in amazement when watching jugglers in a circus. Their dexterity and timing are impeccable. The same could be said of the California Self Storage Association (CSSA) and its myriad efforts designed to help its members and improve the cause of self storage in the state. In 2017 the CSSA successfully juggled efforts in the realms of state legislation, education, conferences, summits and organizational makeup. The result was a very good year with many accomplishments and solid plans in place for the future.

“Every year seems to have its own challenges and 2017 was no different for us at the CSSA,” said Erin King, executive director of the CSSA. “But with a great deal of hard work and planning, as well as support from so many people in the industry, we emerged with new legislative benefits, solid educational efforts throughout the state, some of the best conferences and summits that we’ve ever conducted and a knowledge that we are clearly on the right path.” 

King is quick to point to the CSSA Board of Directors, the national Self Storage Association led by Tim Dietz, top industry executives who served as guest speakers and educational experts like Carlos Kaslow, Jeff Greenberger, Sue Haviland, Kenny Pratt and Rusty Myers as major contributing factors in the CSSA’s efforts in 2017.

Here is a look at some of the accomplishments of the past year as well as future plans for 2018 and beyond:

EDUCATION – It has always been a high priority item with the CSSA to educate its members on all aspects of self storage. Lien law classes continue to be offered throughout northern and southern California. Other subject matters addressed in 2017 included problems that owner/operators and managers can create for themselves (and how to fix them), handling tough situations like wrongful sales, unauthorized people on self storage sites, tenants under the influence and more. Greenberger and Haviland brought their expert knowledge and well-informed views to those topics and many more. 

Two new education classes that CSSA hosted this past year included a revenue management and preventive maintenance class with Kenny Pratt and Rusty Myers held in Elk Grove as well as an owner’s technology and marketing breakfast held in Redondo Beach.

“We plan to continue our programs with Carlos, Jeff & Sue in 2018 and are working on new classes to offer the membership in 2018,” added King. “We are proud of our educational efforts over the years but always realize there is more to be done. As our industry grows and changes, the CSSA has to not only keep up but think ahead.” 

NAPA 2017 – And speaking of thinking ahead, when the CSSA recently branded its yearly Napa conference as OPTECH, the idea was to focus on changes in the industry and how technology can be used effectively. This past spring over 200 people gathered at the Silverado Resort & Spa to learn about a variety of topics from managing your cyber security to raising the bar on accountability. Once again, the Small Owners Meeting was well received with attendees hearing about best practices ranging from auditing, what to expect from your management company and how to better delegate tasks.

Keynote speaker, Peter Burow, stole the show with his presentation “Tear Down the Barriers to Renting with Behavioral Economics.” As a leading behavioral strategist, Mr. Burow shared how to bring simplicity to the complex nature of human behavior by employing a combination of technology, psychology, neuroscience and behavioral economics.

The great news to emanate from Napa was that in spite of the devastating fires that ravaged much of the area, the Silverado Resort in Napa was unharmed and the town is back in business. So the CSSA looks forward to returning to the Silverado Resort this next May.

“This conference has become so popular that it would be hard to imagine not going to Napa,” said King. “It will be nice to give back to the Napa community.” 

OWNERS SUMMIT 17 – The CSSA & Talonvest Capital held the 13th annual Self Storage Owners Summit at the Balboa Bay Resort on July 21. This event has become an industry favorite, not only for California operators but for self storage owners across the country. In 2017 the CSSA was especially pleased to host the entire national SSA Board of Directors and executive leadership at the summit. As in years past, the content did not disappoint the over 260 people in attendance.

The agenda was led by the dynamic keynote speaker Spencer Levy, America’s Head of Research for CBRE. The keynote address was followed by the CEO Super Session which gave attendees access to several of the CEO’s from the REITS on the same panel. Dave Rogers from LifeStorage, Joe Margolis from Extra Space and Arlen Nordhagen from National Storage Affiliates answered questions and provided their insight on the state of the self storage industry. The event concluded with a Strategy & Investment panel led by the CEO’s of some of our industries leading private companies.

“We are so proud to work with Talonvest every year to put on this summit,” added King. “It is hugely popular and we were particularly pleased to have the national SSA’s Board of Directors on hand to see for themselves what is being accomplished at this fabulous gathering.” 

LEGISLATION – The CSSA, with help from the national SSA, was able to see two important pieces of legislation passed by the California legislature that will help the self storage industry in 2018. They are beneficial, but more work needs to be done…which means more effort from the CSSA and more financial support from the self storage community in California to help with lobbying efforts. 

A first step in reforming the state’s lien law took place in 2017. The 2017 legislation, which goes into effect on January 1, 2018, was a modest preparatory effort that also cleaned up some ambiguities that had been introduced into the lien law by prior bills.   

AB 1108 makes three changes to current law. First, it authorizes the facility operator to send lien notices by electronic mail. It also requires that the rental agreement notify the occupant that email will be used and the tenant must consent to receiving lien notices by this method. Next, it clears up an ambiguity in current law on exactly when the owner has the right to deny access, enter the space and move the property to a place of safekeeping.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed an amendment to the state’s Civil Code on July 21, 2017, that removes a previous requirement for self-storage rental agreements. With this change, self-storage operators and other unnecessarily impacted commercial-property owners will no longer have to include a lease notice indicating whether a facility had been inspected by a California Certified Access Specialist (CAS). Assembly Bill 1148 updates section 1938 of AB 2093 to better define the kind of commercial property for which the original legislation was intended. It went into effect immediately.

“We couldn’t do what we do with our state legislature without the support of the national SSA,” said King. “They have donated funds and expertise to promote our agendas. But we also need support from self storage professionals in California. Money will help our cause, which in turn will help every self storage owner/operator in the state.” 

CHANGES ON THE BOARD – Changes can be a good thing in any business realm and such is the case at the CSSA in 2017, with two Board of Director members stepping aside and four new faces joining in. Dean Keller and Kevin Staley are stepping aside while Karen Branson (owner, Northern California, Best Choice Self Storage), Jeff Higashi (Janus International), Daniel Higuera (owner, StoragePro) and Pete Watson (owner, Westport Properties) come on board.

A special thanks must go to former CSSA Board of Directors president Keller, who has donated his time to the CSSA for many years. His commitment to the association has been active and steady and his devotion to improving life for self storage professionals in California has been unwavering. The good news is that Keller will remain a key committee member on the CSSA’s Self Storage Owners Summit committee and will work with the CSSA on its 2019 strategy session in late 2018.

“I can’t say enough good things about Dean and Kevin,” said King. “Their intelligence, guidance and feedback have helped steer in the CSSA in such a positive direction. Many, many thanks to them both.” 

OPERATIONS – The CSSA spent time working with an attorney who specializes in non-profit associations. With his help the CSSA reviewed current association policies to identify areas that needed improvement and updating. With his help and the approval from the Board of Directors the CSSA was able to update, formalize and implement the following policies: Code of Conduct, direct legal support policy and a harassment policy. The board also worked with counsel on a full review of CSSA bylaws to ensure the association is following all of the laws and expectations that come with being a non-profit trade association. The Board reviewed terms, definitions and roles as laid out in the bylaws. 

“As one might imagine, it was a whirlwind of a year at the CSSA, but a very good one,” concluded King. “We have become very adept at juggling our many duties and feel that we accomplished a great deal in 2017. 2018 will present new challenges and we will be up to the task.”