CSLB Conducts Multiple Construction Enforcement Stings and Sweeps around Northern California
Joint operations go after unlicensed operators along coast and in valley.
SACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) conducted multiple stings and sweeps in the northern half of the state to root out illegal contracting. The operations were conducted in conjunction with local authorities in Visalia, Woodland, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties on February 6 and 7.
Members of the CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) posed as homeowners and took bids on home improvement projects ranging from cabinets and cement work to landscaping. When the unlicensed operators bid over $500, which is the legal limit for contracting without a license they were cited with a notice to appear (NTA).
CSLB also conducted sweeps of construction sites with partnering agencies where they looked for unlicensed activity and workers compensation violations.
The following is a wrap-up of the week's activities.
- Operation conducted on Wednesday February 7 with Tulare Co. District Attorney's Office
- Targets - illegal tree trimmers
- 17 NTAs for contracting without a license
- Plus 11 Administrative Cites: (for illegally advertised phone numbers)
Other violations include: illegal advertisements and workers compensation violations. The District Attorney's office may also be filing unfair business practice code violations. Suspects are scheduled to appear in Tulare Superior Court on, March 14, 2007.
Operation conducted in a rural area on February 7 with Yolo County District Attorney's Office and County Code Enforcement.
- 2 NTA's & 1 Arrest
- Fourth organized sting of its kind in Yolo County since September 2006. Local officials report a lower incidence of unlicensed contractors in the County since the stings started.
- Arrested was David Forristall of Innerspace Garage Cabinets, a non-licensee who has with history of CSLB violations and outstanding fines totaling $20,000. He was taken to the Yolo County Jail on three outstanding warrants.
- Tim Wages (Wages Landscape, Construction & Maintenance) was issued a NTA for non-licensed activity. He was in possession of his sons License
Santa Cruz County
Sweeps conducted on February 6 (2 teams made up of CSLB, Department of Industry (DOI) and Santa Cruz County DA Investigators):
- 32 Job Sites visited
- 112 Licenses Checked
- 3 NTA's for contracting without a license
- 1 NTA (no California Drivers License)
- 2 Licensee Warnings
- Licensee follow-up investigations (name style variance, ad violations, cash pay, under reporting of wages)
Court Date: Santa Cruz County Superior Court March 16, 2007
Sweeps conducted on February 7 (3 teams made up of CSLB, Department of Industry (DOI) and Monterey County District Attorney Investigators):
- 53 Job Sites Checked
- 106 Licenses Checked
- 2 NTA's for unlicensed activity
- 3 Licensee cites (not having valid up to date license)
- 1 Licensee Warning
- 2 Licensee follow-up investigations
- Court date for suspects is February 21 at Superior Court in Salinas
The sweeps at area construction sites targeted suspected non-licensed contractors and licensed contractors with employees but no workers' compensation insurance.
"The CSLB and our community partners are serious about going after people who break the law." said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "Property owners face a high financial risk if something goes wrong with an unlicensed operator and legitimate business people have a hard time competing against people who are cheating."
The CSLB urges homeowners to be careful before inviting any contractor into their house or agreeing to have any work done. Ask to see their state contractor's license and go online or call CSLB's automated phone system to verify that the license is valid. They can also check out the contractor's license history and get bond and personnel information.
The CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips when dealing with a building contractor:
- Hire only licensed contractors and ask to see the license;
- Don't rush into decisions and don't hire the first contractor who comes along;
- Be especially hesitant when approached by someone offering home improvement services door-to-door, especially when they will use material they claim is left over from another job;
- Verify the contractor's license by checking online or via CSLB's automated phone service at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752)
- Never pay more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less;
- Don't pay cash, and don't let the payments get ahead of the work; and
- Get three bids, check references, and a written contract
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The CSLB licenses and regulates California's 305,000 contractors, and investigates more than 20,000 complaints against contractors annually. In fiscal year 2005-06, the CSLB helped consumers get more than $36 million in restitution.
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