CSLB Spring 2015 Newsletter

The CSLB Spring 2015 Newsletter was sent out today.

Here are my highlights… or lowlights.

CSLBs Illegal Critical ClassificationsIn the Chair’s opening statement he said: “You can expect CSLB to continue its vigorous regulation of California’s construction industry, and to aggressively pursue unlicensed contractors and unscrupulous businesses through sting operations, construction site sweeps, and other strategies. We want to build more partnerships with licensees, industry groups, and government agencies to present a united front against individuals and businesses who try to hide from state laws or take advantage of consumers.”

Once again, they’re missing the bigger picture. Cause and effect, if you will. “…vigorous regulation of California’s construction industry, and to aggressively pursue unlicensed contractors…” The Contractors State License Board is playing a HUGE part in creating the large amount of unlicensed contractors with their “vigorous regulations.”

For over two years now they have been putting applicants through the wringer with their “profiling” of specific applications. They continue to quote the regulation that requires them to perform a secondary review of at least three percent of all apps received. What I’m hoping/praying will happen is that the State Legislature or an attorney will finally call the CSLB to the mat on this.

They are not randomly selecting applications as the law states, they specifically profiling and targeting these classifications. Last week I was told by a CSLB employee that they should no longer use the term “critical classifications.” I guess they realized that using this term was illegal. DUH!!! They can’t just decide on the whim of a single power hungry CSLB employee to profile specific individuals.

That’s all for now. More later.

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CSLB Explains B General Experience

Finally, something in writing from the CSLB that explains the B General Experience requirements.

B Acceptable Experience per CSLB

And there is nothing in the law that backs this up!

What you see here was sent to a client of mine from Indiana. The highlighting was done by the Contractors State License Board application technician.

The bottom two lines clearly state [Experience in framing and at least any two…], but there is nothing in any law or regulation that states this. Now it’s always been this way, it was this way when I worked at the CSLB from 2001 to 2005, but just because it’s been this way for a long time doesn’t make it right. This is a CSLB underground reg that needs to be corrected and/or stopped!

The law does state: “The application is, as determined by the registrar, for a classification that is closely related to the classification or classifications in which the licensee is licensed, or the qualifying individual is associated with a licensed general engineering contractor or licensed general building contractor and is applying for a classification that is a significant
component of the licensed contractor’s construction business as determined by the registrar.” “As determined by the registrar” is the key phrase here. Other than in this CSLB provided text, where is it stated that Framing is a requirement?

As determined by the registrar is a dangerous statement. The registrar could “determine” any number of policies or procedures that would have a very negative effect to applicants, licensees, construction companies, and the industry as a whole. I think “As determined by the registrar” needs to be removed from the law.

7057. General building contractor

(a) Except as provided in this section, a general building contractor is a contractor whose principal contracting business is in connection with any structure built, being built, or to be built, for the support, shelter, and enclosure of persons, animals, chattels, or movable property of any kind, requiring in its construction the use of at least two unrelated building trades or crafts, or to do or superintend the whole or any part thereof.

This does not include anyone who merely furnishes materials or supplies under Section 7045 without fabricating them into, or consuming them in the performance of, the work of the general building contractor.

(b) A general building contractor may take a prime contract or a subcontract for a framing or carpentry project. However, a general building contractor shall not take a prime contract for any project involving trades other than framing or carpentry unless the prime contract requires at least two unrelated building trades or crafts other than framing or carpentry, or unless the general building contractor holds the appropriate license classification or subcontracts with an
appropriately licensed contractor to perform the work. A general building contractor shall not take a subcontract involving trades other than framing or carpentry, unless the subcontract requires at least two unrelated trades or crafts other than framing or carpentry, or unless the general building contractor holds the appropriate license classification. The general building contractor shall not count framing or carpentry in calculating the two unrelated trades necessary in order for the general building contractor to be able to take a prime contract or subcontract for a project involving other trades.

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Email from a License Guru Blog Reader

Below is an email from a License Guru Blog reader describing her CSLB experience review nightmare.

CSLB Red Tape“I have been following the license guru blog for about 7 months now which is just 3 months short of the full year my husband has been getting the run around from the investigator assigned to his file.  On 06/13/13 the application was submitted and from there everything that you could possibly imagine in your worst nightmare happened.  The investigator began with requests for additional documentation to support the work experience forms that were submitted by two previous employers.  So the dog and pony show began.

We would get the documents and then submit them  only to find out that she needed one more thing…something she did not request the first go around,  and on and on this went on with the two employers, her, us and then she asked for more 1099’s which led to more people being sent forms for work experience, permits, pretty much everything but them signing in blood.  Even with certified mail it seemed she just did not have all the items to find the 4 years of experience she needed.  Or her other excuse was she could not contact the people….which is totally a lie since each and every person never received phone calls from her and we checked with them and found that she had not left messages or attempted.  Finally it was to the point that she made it her mission to deny this application.  Literally a day before his test date she said you might as well just not take it since you will not be approved for your work experience anyway.  It was amazing the total inexperience and lack of support.  Something that we felt needed to be brought the attention of her supervisors.  So, we called a meeting and did just that.  We went with the full binder of documentation with all supporting documents on a job by job basis from each previous employer and we also asked for each employer prior to that day if they would mind being called on our meeting day if necessary to speak with CSLB or answer any questions.  All agreed and were on stand by.  Also realize we ended up pulling 1099’s over 12 year period…and had letters written to explain what each job entailed along with building permits and copies of receipts.  I mean we were prepared!  When we got into the meeting we sat down with the investigator and two supervisors.  She said, “So what are we hear for today?”  Of course I wanted to say are you freaking kidding me?  But I let my husband start and so he said Basically we are confused why this is taking so long to verify my work experience.  All of this information is so detailed and we have letters, permits, 1099’s, W2’s, and even have pictures (even thought she said they were not acceptable) we brought them to show the quality work he has done.  She said, “Well i have only been able to verify 14 months and there is just not all the pieces to support the rest.  So that is when I said, I have prepared this binder with all the documents that have been sent to you.  But it has been organized in a way to show each job, timeframes, support, pictures, etc.  So, I handed it to the Supervisors and they started to view and started to ask the investigator what she could not verify.  She flipped through her mess of folders, which was all scribble and unorganized and when I said what is missing with employer #1, as she looked for that persons name she said oh I don’t see that one.  Hmmm was that one returned to me?  And so the meeting rolled on with much more of this same thing…her fumbling, us proving, Supervisors eyebrows raising, questions  about why this had not proceeded, etc…finally the last straw was when she called out one employer as not being able to specify that my husband did structural work for them.  She literally put words into the employers mouth and how we know that is what transpired next.  A phone call was made per the request of her supervisors to call the employer in question (one that would support 3 years of experience) the employer got on the phone and the investigator started the manipulation right in front of us.  She said remember when i asked you about what “my husband” did for you?  I asked if he did structural work and you said that he did sheetrock and remodels.  The employer said yes that is true, so the investigator said so he did not do any structural work on the jobs he did for you.  The employer said well wait a minute i guess the way it was asked of me made me think of it as new construction work, so no our work has not been brand new construction…but the work he has done is basically taking everything on old construction down to wood and foundation and rebuilding with new electrical, plumbing and framing, pretty much the works.  Plus he has supervised a crew to do so…so yes if that means structural then absolutely.  Well, bingo it was pretty much a given that the original conversation with no one to witness was most definately manipulated.  After the phone call, I just stated that I did not feel as if the investigator really understood her job, and that she was not in any way helpful.  The Supervisor asked if I could leave the binder.  I said I was uncomfortable with that since it was clear that the investigator had obviously lost documents previously sent via certified mail and that I would prefer they make another copy of all the documents that she should already all have at the meeting today.

So they sent her to make some copies.  Meanwhile they agreed that there was plenty of documentation and that we would not need to go to the hearing….it would be moved on from the investigator to the next step.  Upon her arrival back into the room one of the Supervisors was clearly irritated with her and said they were hiring for investigator positions and wondered if I was interested in applying!  He went on to say he was very impressed by the documentation binder that was presented by us and our presentation of it.  The investigator gave out a loud scowl and stormed out of the room.  Well I guess she does not like me!

Anyway,  we are still waiting for the final paperwork to come back…we have called and CSLB says it is in final stage and paperwork should be coming to tell us about securing the bond so that the license number can be issued.  That was 2 weeks ago!  I can’t believe this and I also realize now that majority of people that have this happen would just give up.  It has been a fight and something I would not wish on my worst enemy.

Any recommendations on what to do now?  When you check his application number online it just says application denied, do not schedule exam, but that has been that way since right after his exam was scheduled and he passed!  Amazing, what to do?  I feel like this is borderline unethical, and borderline against the law!  In addition there have been 3 major jobs that have come and gone that my husband could have bid on had he been licensed.  Possible loss of income not to mention the hours spent on phone, document preparation, mail and on and on.

Very tired and very frustrated.”

I want to thank this reader for sharing her CSLB experience with us. She has shown that the CSLB does not know how to handle people who are prepared and willing to stand up to them. As of this posting, the app is still in limbo. My guess is, the CSLB is trying to resolve this without making themselves look any worse than they already do.

If you find yourself in this situation…. put together a neatly prepared, organized binder and request a meeting with the CSLB. And remember…. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING, including phone calls!! Always ask the CSLB to put their requests in writing! This is vital!

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Contractors State License Board Exams Part 2

Don't Tread On Me Flag

Continuing the conversation with Betsy Figueira regarding Contractors State License Board Exams Part 2.

Phil,

I have submitted an IT request to correct the website statement regarding exam waivers –

  • Within the last five years, you have passed both the Law and Business Examination and the trade examination in the same classification for which you are applying, and the license for which you took the examinations was not denied due to lack of work experience.

Regarding your other concerns about applicants taking examinations and then ultimately not getting licensed, that can happen under multiple scenarios – an applicant can fail to provide the required bond or workers’ compensation documentation, an applicant can fail to be cleared by the Criminal Background Unit, an applicant can fail to provide requested experience documentation, etc.  As a governmental agency that processed tens of thousands of applications annually, we have procedures that address the vast majority of our applications – allowing them to test as soon as possible to avoid delays in licensure… which I believe most of them are appreciative of.

If you know of an applicant who does not want to take the examination until all of his/her other licensure requirements have been met, please have them submit a written request to me to have the examination process set aside while the entire rest of the licensure process is complete.  I will consider the request.  Of course, even if such a request is granted, we would still need to confirm that all of the licensure requirements are still valid after the applicant has passed the examinations and is at the point of licensure issuance.

Also, be please be aware that pursuant to CCR Section 816 (c), “nothing in this Rule shall be interpreted to limit the Registrar’s authority to require an applicant to provide any other information necessary to determine the applicant’s qualifications.”

Betsy Figueira CSLB, Licensing Division Manager 916-255-3369

My opinion (which I didn’t share with Ms. Figueira):

Contractors State License Board Exams Part 1

Website update:

It’s a banner day when the CSLB actually admits (almost) to making a mistake. Requesting to have the website updated to remove the “license denied due to lack of work experience” is a victory. This non-admittance to a mistake basically proves that cslb staff makes decisions on a whim without regards to the law. Somebody at a high level had to request that text be added to their website.

My “other” concerns:

Her list of why licenses are denied is correct, but she was side-stepping my comments/concerns that certain classifications are being unfairly targeted. Again, there is no specific rule, regulation, or law that gives the cslb the authority to do this.

Her comment about “procedures” for the thousands of applications they process a year is, well, ridiculous. Again, she side-stepped my comments that there are many instances, rules, regulations, laws that state that the applicant will be sent to the exams AFTER they have determined that the applicant meets the minimum requirements. Obviously they follow the procedures they want, and ignore the rules, regulations, and laws they don’t want.

She believes most of the applicants are appreciative. Granted, I do not speak with every applicant who has been sent to the exams and their app to investigation. I can only speak to the number of people who have called me with questions about what they should do. And listen to how they are unhappy with how they’ve been treated by the cslb. So unless Ms. Figueira has taken it upon herself to speak with every applicant, or even some of them, about how they feel regarding the run-around these applicants are receiving, her “belief” is, at best, a guess on her part.

CCR Section 816 (c):

This is my all time favorite regulation! “nothing shall be interpreted to limit the Registrar’s authority.” If you are a cslb employee or manager in licensing, this means you have carte blanche to do whatever you want. How much better can it get if you are a State agency? They actually wrote a regulation that says they can make up the rules on a daily basis. Today ~ they have 8 critical classifications that they will scrutinize beyond belief. Tomorrow ~ you might have take a lie detector test, or make a personal appearance in front of an experience review committee. If the Registrar’s authority is limitless, where does it end?

We live in a democracy! A democracy I volunteered to protect. How can we allow any governmental agency the power of limitless authority?

If you would like to comment on Contractors State License Board Exams Part 2, please feel free to use the comment link below, or send me an email. If you’d prefer to remain anonymous, just let me know.

Navy history…. The flag above is the first Navy Jack.

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CSLB Application Processing Part 2

Here we are again, CSLB application processing part 2, where I received a screen shot of an application timeline.

This poor guy is being bounced around like a golf ball in a blender. You can see in the image below that the application was submitted on 4/30/13. After being sent to the case management unit for a flag that was cleared on 7/17, almost three months later, the app was then sent to a licensing supervisor on 8/1. I’m assuming this was either a classification clarification or experience related. On 8/5 the supervisor returned the application to the technician with instructions to reject the app to the applicant for a correction. Then on 9/18, the application was sent back to the licensing supervisor for review again. I’m assuming to review the classification clarification or experience outline. The application was also sent to a “License Deputy” for review. Again, I’m assuming it’s for experience. On 10/1 the app is returned to the application technician with instructions to post the app and schedule him for the exams.

You would think that should be the end of it. It’s been to a supervisor twice and to a “licensing deputy.” But no… the app is referred to the Application Investigation Unit or AIU on the same day they schedule the exams. This is the part that really fries my shorts. Why do they insist on scheduling applicants for the exams AND send them to the AIU to verify their experience? If they are not qualified for the exams, and they require the applicant to prove his experience with the AIU, why send them to exams in the first place?

Moving on, the application is “out for investigation” on 10/7, but an “investigator” in the AIU will take at least a month before he/she contacts the applicant. On 10/22 the applicant passes both the law and business and trade exams.

Here we are, it’s January 15th, and the application is still “out for investigation.” Full disclosure… the applicant hasn’t told me yet what communication he’s had with the investigator, if any. So it could be that he’s submitted documents to be reviewed and is waiting for a determination to be made. Or, he may still be waiting to hear from the investigator.

Bottom line… anybody could look at the process this application has gone through and wonder if the Contractors State License Board is truly inept or just dysfunctional. Why did a “licensing deputy” review and apparently approve the application and then sent it to enforcement? Does the “licensing deputy” have the necessary training and experience to adequately review an application? The timeline below suggests, No.

If you find yourself in this situation, contact your State Assembly Member’s office and file a complaint with them. You can also file a complaint directly with the CSLB. Click on this link to download the pdf. CSLBClientServicesComplaintAndSuggestionForm I know that is kind of like asking the fox to look over the hen house, but at least the Registrar’s office is aware of what’s going on under his nose.

CSLB Application Processing Part 2

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CSLB Application Processing

Has the CSLB Application Processing system completely run afoul?

I apologize if I spend too much time discussing this topic, but it really fries my shorts when State agencies abuse their power.

I received an email from an applicant who applied to add a classification to his existing license. You will see in the image below that the CSLB Licensing Unit requested additional documentation. The applicant submitted the documentation, it was accepted, the application was posted and he passed the trade exam. Six days after passing the exam, his application was sent to the infamous Application Investigation Unit, or AIU. Why??

The AIU is going to ask for the same documentation. Doesn’t this suggest that the Licensing Unit is incompetent? They chose to take on the role of experience verification experts. Are they incompetent? Do they not feel that they can perform these duties sufficiently and accurately? They did send the application to the investigation unit after they approved his experience documents, so that suggests the answer is No.

Being a Navy vet, I’m used to following set rules and guidelines. The CSLB needs to create a set of (reasonable) rules and guidelines and follow them. Making up the rules as they go along is wrong for any business, but for a State agency to do it is just flat unacceptable!

CSLB Application Processing

 

 

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CSLB Work Experience Seminar Part 2

CSLB work experience seminar part 2 includes pictures from the meeting and the video taken by the CSLB. I’m in the front row wearing the blue shirt.

I asked at one point if every critical classification applicant would be required to provide additional verification documents. Rick Villucci didn’t exactly answer the question. But I got the feeling that the answer is yes. If you are applying for a critical classification, you WILL be asked to provide that additional experience.

CSLB experience seminar

CSLB Work Experience Seminar Part 1

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CSLB Application Scrutiny Continues

The CSLB application scrutiny continues to be a hot topic with many people I’ve heard from recently.

CSLB Application Scrutiny ContinuesThis week alone, I’ve heard from five people whose applications are being hit hard by the licensing and enforcement units. These applicants have submitted 100’s of documents to prove their experience only to receive a withdrawal request letter in their mailbox. One applicant received a letter asking for the additional documents AND the withdrawal request letter, thing is, he HAD submitted his additional documents with his application. So much for streamlining the process.

[Read more…]

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How to fill out the CSLB Work Experience Form

How to fill out the CSLB Work Experience Form. The first step toward receiving a California Contractors License.

2013 has been full of changes when it comes to the CSLB License Application. It used to be the experience outline could make or break your application. Now, it’s only a minor player for eight of the 43 license classifications.

Although, a properly formatted CSLB work experience form for all 43 classifications is important, preparing a proper experience outline for the eight critical classifications is just the first step.

How to fill out the cslb work experience form

[Read more…]

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Contractor Talk Post

Wow…. here’s a post/question/comment/complaint I received in the ContractorTalk Forum. I’m am so floored by how the CSLB is treating applicants, I’m beside myself. Read on…

Phil – I think you’re right about flagging Asian last names. As I explained to you in my private message, I’m being asked for all kinds of documentation for my Class B. And, I have an Asian last name. Go figure.

They didn’t take my business classes, algebra, advanced math or my CA real estate license and appraisal courses into consideration at all. First I was told that they can’t call my employer out of state, so they want 1099’s and check stubs. Fine. Sent them. The Licensee Deputy approves and then they send me to an Experience analyst. She tells me that the 1099’s are useless, because I, “could have earned the money doing anything”. So why did you ask me to hunt down an old, handicapped prior employer 3,000 miles away to get the darn things?

She tells me that my application shows c6 work and not Class B. She sends me a form asking if I want to withdraw my application. I emailed Andrea S. and asked her since when cantilevering decks, framing additions, siding and roof work is millwork. She said it was millwork and not general building! How ’bout that? She asks me to provide permits and contracts. I explain that as a journeyman employee I’m not required to have either, and that legally my contractor employer isn’t even required to keep those docs for more than 3 years. They then asked for client contacts, which I don’t have as an employee.

She says that I need to go back to the elderly, sick employer 3,000 miles away and get a notarized letter from him outlying my duties. I included hours worked, duties by year for the 10 years through apprenticeship (4yrs) and journeyman level (6 years). What else should he document in the letter?

I do think I’m being targeted. When I explained that I felt that shuffling me from department to department for 10 months now is excessive, and I don’t understand why they ask for documentation that they then tell me they can’t use (like the 1099’s and pay stubs), I’m told that I need permits and the notarized letter from my certifier. Wasn’t his certification enough? No, because he was a foreman and not a contractor. Again, I have no legal reason to have permits as a journeyman. I think they just don’t want to license me – possibly because I’m Asian.

I even included letters from people who can verify that I’ve done extensive work on my own homes. I offered to send in 200 material receipts to verify the work and was told that they weren’t needed. What else can I send in to help with this?

contractor talk post

My reply:

I may actually be speechless!!! Oh wait… no I’m not.

Your experience with the cslb just floors me!! How incompetent can one state agency be? Seriously?!? You give them what they ask for, what they have listed in their ridiculous list of acceptable items, then tell you they won’t accept them. I truly wonder (often) why the patients are running the asylum!

My advice is to contact your State Representative! Show the rep the letter the cslb gave you with the options. Show the rep what you provided, per their list, and show the rep the response you received from the cslb.

It has been pointed out to the Board, directly, that the licensing unit is asking for docs that most applicants aren’t required by law to need or obtain. Yet, they keep asking for them. Then they have the nerve to reject those docs.

I wish I had proof in hand that the cslb is profiling Asian applicants, but they are just smart enough not to have put anything in writing… as far as I’m aware. I was just told that the license techs were verbally told to pull apps with Asian last names. So suggesting to a State Rep that you’re being profiled would most likely be flat out rejected by the cslb. For me… I’d mention it anyway. Let the cslb hear the accusation so they know what they’re doing is out in the public.

Like I said… I was almost speechless.

If you feel you’ve received biased, unfair, ridiculous treatment from the CSLB, let them know about it. Submit this form. CSLB Client Services Complaint Form

via California Licensing – Page 70 – Contractor Licensing – Contractor Talk.

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