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A state undercover sting last week in Rancho Murieta resulted in 11 people being charged with illegal contracting after they bid on painting, fencing and landscaping jobs without the proper license.

A $3,800 bid was offered for drought-resistant landscaping – far beyond the $500 limit on labor and materials charges allowed for unlicensed construction contractors, according to the state Contractors State License Board.

See more in the Bee.  There's coverage from Channel 13 too.  Information on how to hire a contractor is available at the state board's website.

Bill Lytle's picture
Joined: 08/26/2007
Posts: 2
Post rating: 0

RM Sting Operation

I was very disturbed to read of the  "sting" operation held here in Rancho Murieta.  One would assume that this was done with the assisstance or at least approval of our CSD or RMA offices.  Unless there have been numerous complaints from residents I see no need for such a "sting" operation within our gates.  It illustrates a waste of tax payer monies and a greedy grab for more by those who find a need to insure the continuation of their employment.  Among the names on that list were men who have done work for and still do work for many of us here who are entirely satisfied with the quality of their work and employ them because we care about them and their families...needless to say this has infuriated me ...can you tell?

Pat Lytle

Bill Lytle

Teresa Field's picture
Joined: 08/13/2007
Posts: 110
Post rating: 82

In total agreement

In total agreement.  This does just appear to be a money grab by the government.  How did this "sting" come about?  These are good individuals doing great work for many in this community.    Terrible article by the Bee mischaracterizing the work these individuals are doing and their so called drought schemes.  I do not believe that any of these individuals are trying to prey on the local community.  If I understand the real issue correctly, its that only contractors can do work for over $500 and these individuals are not contractors.  Is that the true issue?  If so, then the Bee should have called it out for what it was.  But I want to know why the government is telling me that I need a a licensed contractor to paint or landscape my property.  Sounds like the state or county laws are exceeding their role and benefit.  This is where government needs to shrink.

Daniel Nowak's picture
Joined: 04/19/2012
Posts: 16
Post rating: 24


Please don't blame the Government for this one.  The truth is, blame me.  This came about because I'm one of those licensed, bonded and insured contractors whose fees pay for sting operations. It cost the taxpayer nothing, so don't worry, insult has not been added to injury.  Us contractors have this notion that it is beneficial to both the buying public and the contracting industry to have rules and regulations about commercial activity.  The same is true for many businesses and professions.  These rules aren't that hard to follow.  I've managed to do it for over twenty-five years and I started out as a roofer!  The purpose of sting operations is not to punish Patty the Painter or Roy the Roofer, but to bring them into compliance.

I have no idea why Rancho Murieta was selected for the sting.  I would guess that the CSLB has received complaints from the area.  Does it have consequences to you?  Yes, it does.  The consumer will ultimately pay Patty and Roy's $600 application fee for the license.  Likewise, the consumer will pay for the bond and liability insurance. It also means that when Roy falls off your roof and breaks his neck, you don't have to pay his medical bills and worker's comp.  When Patty drops a gallon of paint on your Persian rug, her bond or insurance company pays for it.  When the IRS discovers Roy's 17 year-old helper was paid cash under the table, he won't be found to be your statutory employee.

One last thing. If you ever get into a dispute with a contractor or feel you've been defrauded, the CSLB will be your best ally.  

I guess I'm sorry? 

Daniel Nowak

Nancy Clark's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 114
Post rating: 131

The Contractor's State License Board protects consumers

Daniel, I totally agree with you.  A few years ago I had a contractor put a roof on a Casita that adjoins my pool.  Unfortunately, the roofer was having financial difficulties at the time and soon thereafter failed to pay the supplier of the roof tiles.  And so the supplier came after me for payment.  Because the contractor was licensed, which required that he be bonded, I was able to go after his bond for the monies due the tile supplier.  Had he been unlicensed, I would have had absolutely no recourse and would have been out a couple thousand dollars.   This is just one of the ways that CSLB protects consumers.

Bobbi Belton's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 275
Post rating: 442

Unlicensed contractors

Daniel and Nancy are 1000% right. We used a fly by night (unlicensed) painter less than a year ago. Our intent was to get quotes from three painters, but we found the first bidder to be a nice guy, promising top of the line service. We were remiss in not continuing on with another two bids. The work was not completed as promised, and, in fact, eleven months later, is still not complete. We are out $5,000 plus we bought and paid for all the paint. The work was adequate but not as promised. We learned to give up on phone calls and we had no other recourse,

Since then, we have used Derek Martinez, a top quality licensed contractor. He works with you as well as for you. When we decided to have some dry rot repaired, the first thing Derek gave us was a printed copy of OUR rights as customers. 

We are about to call him again for some interior remodeling work.

Lesson learned. 

Bobbi Belton

Jacque Villa's picture
Joined: 07/11/2009
Posts: 539
Post rating: 701

Unlicensed Contractors

Daniel, Nancy and Bobbi, I agree with you. Last year we had a new roof put on and needed some painting and dry rot work done.......we got several estimates from locals here in RM and found them to NOT BE LICENSED!!!!  I have always made it a strong point to NOT hire unlicensed folks for all the reasons stated. Our roofer recommended Derek Martinez. We were very pleased with his work and his recommendation for our painter. All the work was perfromed in a professional and timely manner and we could not be happier.


Raelyn Mobley's picture
Joined: 02/11/2008
Posts: 140
Post rating: 80

Licensed Contractors!

I totally agree with Mr. Nowak! We have hired painting and tile contractors over the past year and have made sure they were both licensed and insured. In fact, the CSLB has all of their insurance information listed for consumers online. It is also a good idea to get several bids for each job as they do vary quite a bit. Lastly, we have also checked Better Business Bureau to ensure they have good reviews!  Make sure to research the people you hire so you do not become a victim!


Chris Yacoub's picture
Joined: 11/30/2007
Posts: 64
Post rating: 11

CSLB: State Agency or Union?

For several of the reasons mentioned above, I personally agree that it is smart to use Licensed Contractors for jobs that are large, risky, or involve significant risk to person or property. However, this sting is not about that, and just like the demand for the news coverage to call this what it is (people working without a license, not an elaborate scheme to offer fraudulent drought tolerant landscaping to poor innocent people in the community), I think we should also demand that the CSLB, and associated Contractors also call this what it is, an attempt to prevent anyone outside the CSLB from driving down the amount they can charge for a job, and strong-arm them into joining the CSLB. Does anyone actually believe that the CSLB is only concerned with looking out for your best interest...I would hope most of us our smarter than that!

It is stated above by a member of the CSLB, that the CSLB is responsible for funding and directing these stings. Is that not an open admission that we have a special interest group overstepping their bounds, and authority, and using their money to strong arm the government to do their bidding, which us tax payers do pay for. Seems like if anyone should be under investigation, it's the corrupt officials that are serving the CSLB, rather than the public they are supposed to work for. Hmm...kinda reminds me of another little story in the news recently where a certain mayor abused his power to get another agency to shut down some roads in order to punish those that didn't agree with him!

Also, I find it alarming that the CSLB, a government agency, is mimicking the mentality, demands, and scare tactics used by Unions. Nothing against Unions, but again, just calling it for what it is!

It would be interesting to see a quote from a Licensed and Bonded contractor for the same drought tolerant landscaping job that was quoted at $3800 by the guy that was arrested. Then do a poll to see which one people would choose.

Bill Lytle's picture
Joined: 08/26/2007
Posts: 2
Post rating: 0

RM Sting Operation

This an addendum  to my original comment.

The $500 limit on work by an unlicensed contractor needs to be adjusted for inflation. How long ago was the $500 limit set and what is today's inflated value?


Bill Lytle

Daniel Nowak's picture
Joined: 04/19/2012
Posts: 16
Post rating: 24


Bill, you're right about that.  I think that limit is ancient.  $1000 would probably be more realistic today. It would actually allow me, as a licensee, to do more work out of my trade class!

Chris, thanks for the promotion, but I'm not a member of CSLB.  I'm just one of the greedy contractors who uses them for my own evil purposes.  When I had employees, they were union, so I'm twice damned. But I appreciate it that you don't think I should have to follow rules and regulations when I deal with homeowners.  

Daniel Nowak

Jeff Stanger's picture
Joined: 04/26/2008
Posts: 47
Post rating: 18


Too bad some other agency couldn't come in here and perform a sting on all the thiefs we have here in Rancho Murieta.  Seems like that is a bigger issue than the eleven unlicensed contractors.




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