Ag, Environment and Natural Resources Legislative Update
October 19, 2017
Bill to Limit Solar Permit Fees Signed By Governor Brown
CSAC Opposed AB 1414 by Assemblymember Friedman. The bill reduces the maximum permit fee a city or a county may charge for residential rooftop solar energy systems, applies these caps and commercial permit fee caps to a broader range of solar energy systems, and makes additional changes to existing law governing permit fees for rooftop solar energy systems and to the Solar Rights Act of 1978. CSAC and local governments are strong supporters of renewable energy and committed partners in helping California achieve its renewable energy goals, in part through support of solar power. However, CSAC and other local government advocacy groups expressed opposition to this legislation because it creates barriers for cities and counties to charge reasonable permit fees that help adequately cover local government costs. We do not believe the state should undermine local decisions by setting the level of the fee in statute and did not support this measure for that reason.
Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1284 and SB 242. These two measures will help improve California’s PACE program. SB 242 (Skinner) improves the PACE program for both consumers and program administrators through disclosure requirements, enhanced consumer protections and requirements on 3rd party program administrators. In addition, AB 1284 (Dababneh) provides increased oversight of the PACE program by creating a new licensing requirement for Program Administrators through the Department of Business Oversight, training requirements for employees, and a requirement that Program Administrators assess a homeowner’s ability to pay back an assessment, among other measures. AB 1284, together with SB 242 builds on the PACE consumer protections in last year’s AB 2693 (Dababneh), enhancing PACE underwriting, regulating PACE 3rd party program administrators at the state level, and enforcing compliance with all PACE laws by PACE administrators and individual contractors.
AB 890 by Assemblymember Jose Medina was vetoed and would have delegated exclusive authority to make certain land use approvals and designations to a city council or a board of supervisors. This bill took aim at a perceived loophole whereby land use projects proposed by initiative did not have to undergo a CEQA review. CSAC had concerns about this bill in its initial form, but worked with Assemblymember Medina to amend the bill and subsequently removed our opposition.
SB 80 by Senator Bob Wiecowski was vetoed and would have required a lead agency to file a Notice of Determination when a project considered under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) received a categorical exemption. The bill also would have required a lead agency to post certain notices on its website, and send the notices by email upon request. The Governor vetoed the bill stating “the current CEQA process already is very detailed, and requires an incredible amount of notice.” CSAC had concerns about this bill, but worked with the author to remove our opposition.