CILS Completes Renovation of Escondido Office Building

Photo of the front of the Escondido office building. Fresh paint, updated safety features, landscaping, LED lighting, new entry doors, and signage were all part of the renovation project.

Photo of building before renovation.

Escondido, CA – September 10, 2017: CILS completed renovation of the Escondido office building in August. The exterior of the building was renovated with the goal of providing a welcoming and comfortable space.

The Escondido office is centrally located near several Indian reservations and provides legal assistance to individuals and tribes in Southern California. CILS purchased the building in 1998 to ensure legal services would be available for decades to come. This is the first time the Escondido office has been updated.

When starting the project, using Native-owned businesses was important to CILS, and CILS turned to California Indian Chamber of Commerce’s Tracy Stanhoff and Cheri Myron for help. The renovation was completed by GC Green Incorporated, an Indian- woman- and veteran-owned company. The project spanned eight months and cost $118,000 including painting, updated safety features, landscaping, lighting, new entry doors, and signage.

Elizabeth Perez, President of GC Green Incorporated, stated, “We were excited to assist CILS in their extensive plans to upgrade their building. Being an Indian-owned construction company allowed us to understand their vision of a native environment. They were insistent about using Indian vendors, and so were we.”

“The value of networking at California Indian Chamber is illustrated by our ability to find both a construction company and a landscape architect in one meeting,” said Nicole Scott, CILS Director of Development and Marketing. “The Chamber helped us locate Elizabeth Perez of GC Green and Matthew Kennedy of Costello Kennedy Landscape Architecture to aid in our renovation.”

The new landscaping, designed by Costello Kennedy Landscape Architecture, gives a feeling of the natural landscape environment. More than forty plants of twelve species, all of which are native to southern California, can be found throughout the new landscape.

Dorothy Alther, CILS Executive Director, stated, “The building renovation made a big difference in the way the building feels. When visitors arrive for the first time, they can find our building because of the new signage. We brought the native landscaping inside the building by placing plants in both the downstairs and upstairs corridors. At night we have LED lights and video cameras to create more safety. The renovation has improved the staff and visitor experience.”

The renovation was made possible by a Façade and Property Improvement Grant from the City of Escondido, a Neighborhood Reinvestment Program Grant from Supervisor Dave Roberts, a donation from the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation and general donations throughout the year.

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American Indian Probate Reform Act (AIPRA) and Indian Wills

For years CILS has prioritized the preservation and enhancement of the California Indian land base in California.  Part of this work correlates with assisting individuals that have an Indian allotment or an interest in an allotment to better understand their rights and sometimes their responsibilities to future generations. As part of this work, CILS has conducted numerous presentations over the years regarding the impact of the AIPRA and the need for executing an Indian Wills or estate planning of Indian trust assets. The AIPRA, enacted in 2004, provides for a national uniform inheritance scheme in situations where there is no valid Indian Will. The inheritance scheme is one that not every Indian trust holder may wish to have applied when determining who will inherit their trust assets. Unless an individual leaves a valid Indian Will, AIPRA’s scheme may control their trust property’s future. This is where CILS presentations and Indian Will drafting helps individuals make informed decisions. Typically, individuals have specific questions and concerns that they may not wish to voice to family members or friends but that CILS staff can assuage. All CILS offices provide Indian Will drafting for those holding Indian trust assets.

CILS Will drafting services are no-cost to those who qualify for our free legal services. For those who are over-income, CILS provides Indian Will drafting at an hourly rate – typically to cover the cost. While CILS does not generally take on work for individuals who are over-income, our Indian Wills practice is an exception. Most California private estate planning attorneys do not draft Indian Wills; their focus is upon those assets coming strictly under California state inheritance laws. Many of these private attorneys shy away from drafting Indian Wills, in part because of the perceived complexities involving Indian trust assets including Federal regulations, tribal codes, the AIPRA and the myriad of administrative agencies within the Department of the Interior. For CILS, however, this services is part of our common practice – and is much-needed throughout Indian Country.

CILS is available for Indian Wills/Indian estate planning presentations and Indian Will clinics.  Tribes can contact the local CILS office to arrange this service. Individuals holding Indian trust assets, such as allotment or heirship interests or Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts, can also contact their local CILS office and speak with a representative about their eligibility for Indian Will drafting services.

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