TheCALIFORNIA Appraiser - California Bureau Of Real Estate Appraisers

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.CALIFORNIAAppraiserTheVol. 10, No. 2OFFICE OF REAL ESTATE APPRAISERSSpring/Summer 1999New BT&HSecretary AppointedGovernor Gray Davis appointed formerU.S. Department of Commerce officialMaria Contreras-Sweet Secretary of the Business,Transportation and Housing (BT&H) Agency.Contreras-Sweet is the first Latina appointed asSecretary of BT&H. The Secretary has authorityover the following state agencies: Office of RealEstate Appraisers, California Housing FinanceAgency, California Highway Patrol, CaliforniaTraffic Safety Program, Department of AlcoholicBeverage Control, Department of Corporations,Department of Financial Institutions, Departmentof Housing and Community Development,Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of RealEstate, Department of Transportation, and StephenP. Teale Data Center.“Maria Contreras-Sweet is a woman of manyfirsts,” announced Governor Davis. “Now shewill be the first Latina to head an agency that iscritical to the future of California. Understandingwhat it means to be a businesswoman andentrepreneur, I am confident Maria will developpolicy recommendations to make California amore business-friendly state, particularly to thosewho are willing to invest their hard earned capitalin a start-up company.”Contreras-Sweet is president of Contreras-SweetCompany, an international managementconsulting firm servicing Fortune 500 and Service1000 companies. During her corporateexperience, she became the first woman vicepresident at Westinghouse at age 30. She laterbecame an equity partner of 7-UP/RC BottlingCompany. Breaking another glass ceiling,Contreras-Sweet became the first Latina to serveon the Board of Directors of Blue Cross ofCalifornia, the state’s largest health insurancecompany. Contreras-Sweet, 43, was appointed tothe Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, was thefounding president of Hispanas Organized forPolitical Equality (HOPE), and has served onnumerous boards including the United Way ofGreater Los Angeles.“I look forward to working with Governor Davisto build a bridge between business andgovernment,” said Contreras-Sweet, who hasserved in both capacities. “Having worked in bothlarge- and medium-sized companies and startedmy own business, I understand the challengesbusinesses face each day. I also look forward todeveloping proposals that will address California’slong-term challenges.”

. . . OREA News . . . ORInside . . .OREA News . 2In The Spotlight . 4USPAP ‘99 . 4Customer Comment Line . 5AARO’s Fall Conference inCalifornia . 5Record Keeping . 6Reminder-Legal PresenceVerification . 7Comparable Sales . 7Appraiser-Client Relationship . 8FYI . 8Common Appraisal ReportDeficiencies . 9OREA’s Customer ServiceSurvey Notice . 9Appraiser Liability: ThereOught To Be A Law . 10The California AppraiserWants You! . 11Disciplinary Action Guidelines . 12Did You Know . 12Enforcement Actions . 13OREA Targeting “Flip”1999 OREA Workshop Demystifying OREAOn January 28, 1999, the Office of Real Estate Appraisers (OREA) held aworkshop entitled “1999 OREA Workshop-Demystifying OREA” in CostaMesa, California. This one-day workshop covered federal and state laws andregulations governing the realestate appraiser profession, andOREA’s licensing andenforcement processes. Fourhours of continuing educationcredit were offered for thoseportions of the workshopdealing with federal and statelaws and regulations.In the morning, those attendingthe workshop learned aboutapplicable laws, how to applyfor a real estate appraiserlicense, upgrade a currentlicense and renew a license.We also shared commondeficiency problems withapplications. In the afternoon,Jerry R. Jolly, OREA’s Acting Director,the audience learned aboutwelcomes workshop attendees.OREA’s regulations, types ofinvestigations performed,typical allegations and their sources, and types of disciplinary sanctions. Inaddition, we had a Vendor Fair for exhibitors to display products and services toaid in appraisal practice.Transactions . 23Customer Service Survey . 25State of CaliforniaOFFICEOFREAL ESTATE APPRAISERS1755 CREEKSIDE OAKS D RIVE, SUITE 190S ACRAMENTO , CA 95833-3637PHONE: (916) 263-0722FAX: (916) 263-0886WWW . OREA. CA .GOVORWWW .OREA .CAHWNET.GOVJERRY R. JOLLYA CTING DIRECTORANTHONY F. MAJEWSKIDEPUTY DIRECTOR22Workshop attendees

REA News . . . OREA News . . . ORWe were fortunate to be able to have Claudia L. Gaglione,Esq., of Gaglione & Dolan as our guest speaker at theluncheon. Claudia’s firm specializes in the defense ofprofessional malpractice claims. She shared with us someavoidable errors in making appraisals and how appraiserscan best protect themselves in the event of a lawsuit.Note . . .There have been questions concerning an article thatappeared in the Spring/Summer 1998 edition of TheCalifornia Appraiser entitled “Age Life DepreciationErrors”. Because of this, OREA will be revisiting thissubject matter in the next edition of the newsletter.Those attending the Costa Mesa workshop found it to beinformative and very worthwhile! We plan to periodicallyoffer these workshops in different areas of the State and willlet you know when we schedule another!New Field AuditProgramWe are pleased to announce the implementation ofOREA’s Field Audit Program. If you receive a letterfrom OREA stating that we are coming to your office for anaudit, don’t panic!We want everyone to understand that the goal of thisprogram is to provide licensees with valuable feedbackregarding their real estate appraisal practice, not to identifyproblems for the purpose of taking disciplinary actionagainst licensees. In fact, licensees who have recently beeninvolved in our new Field Audit Program have found it to bevery informative, educational and a positive overallexperience. Comments from those audited have indicatedthat this program will improve their day-to-day appraisalbusiness.Claudia L. Gaglione, Esq., discusses various issues with theaudience after our luncheon at the workshop.Approved Course ProvidersFor your information and convenience, course providersthat have been OREA-approved are listed on ourwebsite. Simply “click” on the Licensing Requirements boxfound on our home page and select either B.E. (basiceducation) or C.E. (continuing education) courses/providersfor the listing of your choice!License Verification On-Line!You can now verify active real estate appraiser licenseson-line by using OREA’s website! This will not onlybe convenient for customers of real estate appraiser services,but for the industry as well!If you are selected for a field audit, you will be sent a writtennotice approximately two weeks prior to the scheduled auditdate. Upon arrival at your business premises, our PropertyAppraiser Investigator will explain the purpose of the auditand what you may expect. After answering any questionsthat you may have, the investigator will select two appraisalsthat you have completed within the last 12 months andexamine them for general conformance with law, regulationsand the Uniform Standards of Professional AppraisalPractice. At the conclusion of the examination, theinvestigator will provide you with any applicablerecommendations for improvement in the performance andreporting of your appraisals. You will subsequently receive awritten summary of OREA’s recommendations.If you are audited, it is our sincere hope that you will findour Field Audit Program very beneficial to you and to yourreal estate appraisal business. So, if you get that notice inthe mail, relax—everything is going to be fine!***3

IN THE SPOTLIGHT :: C ----------determine whether applicants meet the requirements foreducation and experience, and reviewing criminalbackground issues. Penny also answers questions andprovides guidance to the general public and to individualsseeking to apply for a real estate appraiser license.Penny began working at OREA in September 1991, makingher one of our most seasoned veterans. During her tenure,Penny has also been responsible for reviewing basic andcontinuing education courses for OREA approval, processingTemporary Practice Permits, and participating in thedevelopment of desk procedures to be used by OREA staff.In each issue, we are offering a column that provides apersonal profile of an OREA staff member. Each issuespotlights a different staff member to better familiarize ourreaders with the people working for them.Penny Bulmer is a Senior Licensing Technician inOREA’s Licensing and Enforcement Division. Herresponsibilities include reviewing license applications toPrior to state service, Penny was employed at theWeinstocks’ Division of Carter Hawley Hale stores for 21years, where she managed up to 30 data entry operators. Sheperformed duties as a data security administrator for 12Weinstocks stores and support staff, and developed programsand procedures for processing semiannual retail merchandiseinventories.Penny is a native Sacramentan and ,when away from OREA,enjoys golfing and loves pets.USPAP Ô99On March 31,1999, the newest version of USPAP becameeffective. The 1999 edition of USPAP contains manychanges and it is incumbent upon all appraisers to familiarizethemselves thoroughly with these revisions. USPAP isavailable through The Appraisal Foundation, however, wehave summarized the changes as follows:DEPARTURE RULEThe Preamble was modified to add a definition and furtherclarification.The Departure Provision is now known as the DepartureRule and contains new terminology. This rule now permitsexceptions to sections of the standards that are classified as“Specific Requirements.” Invoking this rule, the standard ofperformance is that opinions or conclusions be credible. It isimportant to review the revised comment section of this rule.It is also important to note whether or not the standard is abinding requirement or specific requirement for whichdeparture is permitted.ETHICS RULEDEFINITIONSThe Ethics Provision is now referred to as the Ethics Rule.The section on conduct was modified to include a newparagraph dealing with predetermined opinions andconclusions. In addition, the confidentiality section wasmodified to include state enforcement agencies as exceptionsto the confidential nature of the appraiser-client relationship.The 1999 USPAP includes several new definitions.PREAMBLESTANDARD 1Standard 1, Real Property Appraisal Development, containsseveral changes. Standards Rule 1-2 has been significantly(Continued on Page 6)4

Customer Comment LineWe do appreciate hearing from you! Following are a few ofthe comments that OREA has recently received.Bakersfield, CaliforniaI spoke with Judy [Cook] today at your office over thetelephone and found her to be most knowledgeable andhelpful regarding the [Statement of Citizenship] form.Irvine, CaliforniaA bogus complaint was filed against me, and the attitude andmethod of investigation by OREA was above and beyond myexpectations. Randy Mackay was the investigator and wasvery professional in his contacts with me. I truly appreciatethe manner in which I was treated.Los Angeles, CaliforniaCity of Industry, CaliforniaJohn Brenan is outstanding to work with.I am very touched by your commitment and in publishing“The California Appraiser.”Encino, CaliforniaLos Angeles, CaliforniaAs a loan funder for a California lending institution, thefederal government’s regulations state that I need to discloseto each and every borrower the name, address and telephonenumber of each and every company who provides services inconnection with the transaction and for whose services theborrower has paid a fee. This particularly impacts . . . theappraisals [that] accompany each loan. In most cases theappraiser was chosen by the seller, the buyer, the broker, etc.This person is not known to me or my company as a usualand customary business associate, and thus, most often wehave no address or telephone number in our files. Whatwould be most helpful to funders across the state would be[to have each appraisal] contain the name of the appraiser/appraisal service, the mailing address of the business,including zip code [and] the area code and telephone numberof the business. This is in addition to the license number andthe other pertinent data on the appraisal.I am writing to you to compliment you on your courteous,professional and very helpful staff. In the course of being anappraiser, it is necessary for me to interact with a widevariety of state and county agencies. During that time, it hasbeen an extreme rarity to find people employed by anygovernmental agencies that are as helpful, friendly andwilling to go outside the narrow confines of what I perceivetheir job boundaries to be as [OREA’s] staff is.Manhattan Beach, California[We] wish to thank [OREA] staff for the excellent seminar . . . We cannot say enough good things about your entireorganization. John Brenan has been outstanding in guidingus through the maze of course approvals [and] helping us tointerpret the regulations regarding home study courses.San Clemente, CaliforniaInglewood, CaliforniaI enjoyed contact with the Office of Real Estate Appraisers.Thank you for helping me get my license renewed . . .keep up the good work.AAROÕs Fall Conference in California!This year, the Association of Appraiser Regulatory OfficialsÕ (AARO) fallconference will take place in San Diego, California. It will be held at theMarriott Mission Valley, October 2 through October 5, 1999. For moreinformation about the conference, you may contact AARO at(307) 366-2813 or visit their web page at www.aaro.net.5

Record KeepingIt has come to our attention that there continue to be anumber of misconceptions and questions concerning theissue of record keeping. We would like to address thisissue by referring to the Record Keeping section of theEthics Rule of the Uniform Standards of ProfessionalAppraisal Practice (USPAP) and answering some of the morecommon questions asked of us. The Record Keeping sectionstates:“An appraiser must prepare written recordsof appraisal, review, and consultingassignments including oral testimony andreports-and retain such records for a periodof at least five (5) years after thepreparation or at least two (2) years afterfinal disposition of any judicial proceedingin which testimony was given, whicheverperiod expires last. The written records ofan assignment are the workfiles.”The most common questions that we are confronted with areas follows:Q: If an appraiser’s employer maintains a complete copy ofthe appraisal and workfile, is it necessary for the appraiser tomaintain a copy?A: Yes.Even though your employer maintains a completefile copy, a licensed appraiser is personally responsible formaintaining a true copy of the appraisal and workfile for theprescribed length of time. Failure to maintain a personalrecord because the appraiser’s employer maintains one doesnot alleviate the appraiser’s liability if he/she is unable toaccess or utilize the records during the required retentionperiods.Q: What data should be included in the workfile?A: OREA suggests that the workfile include a true copy ofthe appraisal, field notes, sufficient supportingdocumentation and copies of data source.Q:Is electronic storage of an appraisal adequate to satisfythe record keeping requirements of USPAP?A:USPAP does not require multiple storage of the sameinformation, but it requires a workfile for every appraisalassignment. The workfile may include information stored onelectronic, magnetic or other media, as well as, a reference tothe location of other data used in the appraisal. A commonproblem with storing files electronically appears to be that6these files may not always be accessible. For example, newsoftware may not be able to read old files, or a hard drivemight “crash” and files might be lost.***USPAP Ô99(continued)modified, in that it is now more specific and deals withintended users and intended use of the appraisal report.There are new sections of this standard that deal morespecifically with identifying the scope of work, extraordinaryassumptions, and hypothetical conditions in the developmentof an appraisal. Standards Rule 1-4 now deals morespecifically with the three approaches to value. StandardsRule 1-5 has become more restrictive.STANDARD 2Standard 2, Real Property Appraisal Reporting, has beenmodified to distinguish the intended user and intended usethroughout. Also, “hypothetical condition” is added as anitem to be disclosed in Standard Rule 2-1(c). Standards Rule2-2 has retained three reporting options, however, theRestricted Appraisal Report is now referred to as theRestricted Use Appraisal Report. The certification inStandard Rule 2-3 was modified.STANDARD 3In Standard 3, Real Property Appraisal Review,Development, and Reporting, intended use and intendedusers are again distinguished. Also, the certification wasslightly modified.In addition to the changes noted above, there were changesto The Statement on Appraisal Standards No. 7, AdvisoryOpinion 11, Advisory Opinion 12, and Advisory Opinion 15.It is important that all appraisers review these changes.OREA staff members will be available to answer anyquestions concerning the changes. You may contact OREAat (916) 263-0722. OREA’s office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,Monday through Friday.***

Reminder!L EGAL PRESENCE VERIFICATIONFORALL APPRAISERSYou may be aware that OREA now requires proof of legal presence in the United States from allapplicants for a real estate appraiser license, including applicants for renewal of an existinglicense. What you may not know is that OREA can accept your proof of legal presence at any timeprior to issuing a license. Therefore, if you plan to apply for any license or to renew your licensewithin the next few years, you may wish to avoid any potential delay in processing your applicationby submitting documentation now!For your convenience, the Statement of Citizenship, Alienage, and Immigration Status for StatePublic Benefits form (REA 3030) is located on our web page. If you are unsure of acceptable formsof proof, you may refer to the Spring/Summer edition of The California Appraiser, Volume 10, No. 1or download the information from our website.Comparable SalesOREA is aware that confusion exists as to whether or notan appraiser performing a request from a client (orpotential client) for comparable sales, commonly referred toas a “comp out” or “range of value,” is in violation of theUniform Standards of Appraisal Practice (USPAP). This is acommon occurrence within the appraisal industry; however,if not handled correctly, the appraiser may be reporting apredetermined value of the subject, which is a violation ofthe Management Section of the Ethics Rule of USPAP.Therefore, OREA suggests that the appraiser should: Inform the client of the general sales activity that hastranspired in the immediate area around the subjectproperty;Inform the client that the sales data does notdetermine a value estimate of the subject property, andthe appraiser additionally cannot determine if those salesare truly comparable without conducting a fieldinspection of the subject and researching the sales data; Provide the client a list of sales to assist him or her inthe business decision process; Decline to indicate a specific, guaranteed, or range ofvalue of the subject property; and Communicate to the client the appraiser’s professionalobligation to comply with USPAP, since many clientsare unfamiliar with the issues of reporting apredetermined value or a direction in value that favors thecause of the client.OREA suggests that any appraiser asked to perform a “compout” carefully review the information contained in theManagement Section of the Ethics Rule of USPAP. If youhave any questions or need further clarification, you maycontact an OREA investigator at (916) 263-0722. OREA’soffice hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.***7

Appraiser-Client RelationshipOne of the most frequently askedquestions of OREA investigatorsoriginates from appraisers,homeowners and lenders who want toknow how long an appraiser-clientrelationship lasts, particularly when anew client asks an appraiser to assess apiece of property previously appraisedfor another client. OREA realizes thatthis dilemma often surfaces in the “feeappraiser” world and we are oftenasked to clarify the appraiser-clientrelationship under the UniformStandards of Professional AppraisalPractice (USPAP).with the assignment if theappraiser receives the release ofthe appraiser-client relationshipfrom Lender A. This may includesubmitting a new cover letter orappraisal transmittal letterindicating full disclosure of theoriginal appraiser-clientrelationship and changing theoriginal report to reflect thatLender B is the new client. If theoriginal appraiser-clientrelationship is not fully disclosed,it could be misleading. For example, in a typical situation anappraiser directly engages with a lender(Lender A) to perform a propertyappraisal where the appraisal fee iscollected, and the assignment iscompleted and delivered to Lender A.The appraiser subsequently receives anappraisal request for the same propertybut from another lender (Lender B). Inthis situation, OREA recommends thefollowing: The appraiser should informLender B of the appraiser-clientrelationship with Lender A and ofthe original appraisal performed onthe property.The appraiser should informLender A of Lender B’s intentionsto establish an appraiser-clientrelationship.The appraiser should request andobtain Lender A’s writtenpermission for release of theappraisal to Lender B beforeaccepting the assignment when theappraiser reasonably believes aprior client relationship still existswith Lender A.The appraiser should informLender B of any nominaladministrative costs associated8 Circumstances may be furthercomplicated if Lender A refuses torelease the appraisal to Lender B.The appraiser should ask Lender Aif the appraiser-client relationshipstill exists and if the intended useof the original appraisal iscompleted. If these issues cannotbe determined or remain unclear, itis recommended that the appraisernot accept the assignment fromLender B.Since many clients areunfamiliar with the confidentialnature of the appraiser-clientrelationship, it is incumbentupon the appraiser tocommunicate to the client (orpotential client) the professionalobligation to comply withUSPAP regarding this issue.OREA suggests that any appraiserasked to perform an appraisal thatwas previously appraised for anotherclient carefully review theinformation contained in AdvisoryOpinion AO-10, the Appraiser-ClientRelationship, and the ConfidentialitySection of the Ethics Rule of USPAP.The appraiser should also reviewAdvisory Opinion AO-3, Update ofan Appraisal, in determining howlong the appraiser-client relationshiplasts.If you have any questions or needfurther clarification, you may contactan OREA investigator at (916) 263-0722.OREA’s office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,Monday through Friday.*** FYI-All of OREA’s formsand instructions areavailable fordownloading, includingthe Change Notificationand MiscellaneousRequests form (REA3011), from ourwebsite. Our web pageaddress is:www.orea.ca.govorwww.orea.cahwnet.gov

Common Appraisal Report DeficienciesOREA received a request to address the issue of commondeficiencies found in appraisal reports, particularly theUniform Residential Appraisal Report, Form 1004. Thefollowing are some of the more prevalent deficiencies, whichmay result in violations of the Uniform Standards ofProfessional Appraisal Practice (USPAP): The reporting option used (Self-Contained AppraisalReport, Summary Appraisal Report or RestrictedAppraisal Report) is not prominently stated. Conflicting or inconsistent statements between thereport and the addendum, in which the report and/oraddendum is boilerplated. No discussion or explanation regarding largeadjustments in the Sales Comparison Analysis,particularly location, condition, site/view and any“across the board” adjustments. No discussion or explanation for the selection ofcomparable sales which are predominantly dissimilar ingross living area, location, design/appeal, qualityconstruction and/or condition to the subject property. The final estimate of value is outside the adjusted salesprice range of the comparable sales. Comments on the sales comparison section of the reportdo not indicate which comparables were given thegreatest weight or consideration to determine the valueestimate. Inadequate descriptions of the features and amenities ofthe comparable sales to the subject property in the salesgrid; “equal,” “similar” and/or “same” are the onlyindicators in the sales grid. The report excludes comments regarding what items ofrepair or updating were considered in the conditionadjustments of the comparable sales. The report excludes comments regarding specialfeatures, recent improvements, repairs needed and itscost to cure of the subject property. The report excludes sales and/or listing history of thesubject property and comparable sales. Inconsistencies throughout the report, such as thesubject property is proposed, yet “new” or “existing” isreported, or external or functional obsolescence isindicated in the cost approach yet no obsolescence of thesubject property is reported.OREA is sensitive to the time constraints lenders and clientsplace on appraisers. However, USPAP prohibits an appraiserfrom producing a misleading report or rendering services in acareless or negligent manner, regardless of whether or not anerror results which significantly affects the final estimate ofvalue. OREA suggests that the appraiser carefully reviewthe information contained in Standards 1 and 2 of USPAPand take the time to proof reports; it will enhance the workproduct and help avoid problems in the future.If you have any questions or need further clarification, youmay contact an OREA investigator at (916) 263-0722.OREA’s office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday throughFriday.***OREA’s CustomerService SurveyOne of the goals of the Office of RealEstate Appraisers (OREA) is to provideyou with the best possible customerservice. Your input is vital to OREA’ssuccess. Please help us serve you betterby taking a few minutes to completethe survey located on page 25. Mailcompleted survey forms to:Office of Real Estate Appraisers1755 Creekside Oaks Drive, Suite 190Sacramento, California 95833-36379

Appraiser Liability: There Ought To Be A LawSubmitted by Steven R. Smith, MAI, SRAProfessional liability may have taken a turn in the roadthat left the licensed real estate appraiser in the dark.This is the result of two recent events. One is achange in a commonly used real estate form and the other is acourt decision. Both changes have to do with liability. Bothevents are more than two years old, but their impact has yet tobe felt.Few appraisers want to talk about liability. Nevertheless, thequestion is to whom are we liable? As appraisers, are weonly liable to the clients who hired us or to a larger stream ofcommerce? Based upon these recent changes, it seems thatappraisers are now liable to both.The question exists as to whether this court decision can alsobe used against those that are advocates and hype value tosatisfy the desires of their clients; if so, it will be in eithercivil litigation or criminal cases. When a subsequentproblem arises about property value, depending upon thearena within which the appraisal was performed, theappraiser may be stuck holding the liability bag. Worse yet,liability insurance carriers might not cover the actions ofappraisers in the future, unless certain procedures werefollowed that can be verified upon review.The First IssueThe California Association of Realtors (CAR) has added anAppraisal Contingency to at least two of their ResidentialPurchase Agreement and Deposit Receipt forms. It says:APPRAISAL CONTINGENCY: (if checked) ThisAgreement is contingent upon property appraising at no lessthan the specified total purchase price. If there is a loancontingency, the appraisal contingency shall remain in effectuntil the loan contingency is removed, otherwise, theappraisal contingency shall be removed within 10 (or someother number) days after acceptance.Buyers many times are shown only listings for comparablesand may seldom be shown transacted comparable sales.Sales agents do not perform the same level of market valueanalysis when showing property that appraisers do. Buyerstypically do not engage appraisers to establish appropriateprices to pay for properties before they sign purchaseagreements. Typically, appraisers work for a lender with whomthey have a duty and liability. Appraisers generally concentratetheir attention on closed sales and typically may not look atlistings or pending sales unless the market is rapidly changing.10Appraisals of homes involved in purchase transactions maynow warrant a higher level of due diligence than lendershave allowed for in the past. Because of the “turn-aroundtime” demands of the lender client (or employer), appraisershave often been faced with making what may be anunwritten, but critical, assumption when they appraisehomes, which is the buyer is well informed and operating inhis or her own best interest . This assumption may bewrong. Appraisers typically do not have contact with buyers.Unless appraisers are provided with copies of contracts andtheir amendments, they have no actual knowledge of thebuyers’ concerns. Unless appraisers directly

Vol. 10, No. 2 OFFICE OF REAL ESTATE APPRAISERS Spring/Summer 1999 . New BT&H Secretary Appointed . G. overnor Gray Davis appointed former U.S. Department of Commerce official Maria Contreras-Sweet Secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing (BT&H) Agency. Contreras-Sweet is the first Latina appointed as Secretary of BT&H.

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