CSAC Bulletin Article

Housing, Land Use and Transportation 04/15/2011

Housing

AB 679 (Allen) – Request for Comment
As Introduced on February 17, 2011

AB 679, by Assembly Member Michael Allen, would, under housing element law, provide that, with respect to the condition that a county’s share of low-income and very low-income housing shares be reduced only in proportion to the amount the county’s moderate- and above moderate-income housing is reduced, in the case of a transfer in which a county provides funding for affordable housing construction within a city, that transfer does not have to be proportional across income categories, but may reflect the specific affordability of units that are being funded.

AB 679 is set for hearing before the Assembly Housing and Community Development Department on April 27. 

AB 1103 (Huffman) – Request for Comment
As Introduced on February 18, 2011

AB 1103, by Assembly Member Jared Huffman, would, under housing element law, provide that a city or county may request its council of governments to adjust the city’s or county’s densities for the city’s or county’s share of regional housing need for lower income households based on a demonstration by the city or county that the density is not consistent with the city’s or county’s designation as nonmetropolitan, suburban, or metropolitan. The bill would also specify that a city or county may meet the appropriate regional housing needs assessment without using land use controls to set aside the appropriate densities throughout the jurisdiction. The bill would also authorize a local government to count each housing unit that meets the requirements of the jurisdiction’s sustainable communities strategy as 1 ½ units for purposes of meeting the local government’s regional housing needs assessment. Finally, this bill would add to the list of potential criteria, until January 1, 2017, the additional criterion of being located on foreclosed property and converted with committed assistance from the city or county from nonaffordable to very low and low-income households to affordable to those households. The bill would also add to that list of potential criteria the additional criterion of being a 2nd unit on a property that is converted from nonaffordable to very low and low-income housing.

AB 1103 is set for hearing before the Assembly Housing and Community Development Department on April 27.

Land Use

AB 129 (Beall) – Support
As Introduced on January 11, 2011

AB 129, by Assembly Member Jim Beall, would authorize a city or county to specially assess any fines or penalties not paid after demand by the city or county against the owner of real property whom owes fines or penalties. The fines and penalties may be collected at the same time and in the same manner as regularly county taxes thereby avoiding additional time consuming and costly new procedures. Finally, the measure would also authorize a local agency to appoint a hearing officer to hear and decide issues regarding ordinance violations and the imposition of administrative fines and penalties.

Local agencies can have code enforcement violation cases drag on for years. The changes proposed by AB 129 would provide cities and counties an additional tool for recouping fines and penalties owed to the local agency and streamlines the existing code enforcement process.

AB 129 was passed off of the Assembly Floor and is now in the Senate awaiting a committee assignment. 

AB 147 (Dickinson) – Sponsor
As Amended on April 4, 2011

AB 147, by Assembly Member Roger Dickinson, would expand existing eligible uses for transportation mitigation impact fees charged under the Subdivisions Map Act for transit, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities.

The Subdivision Map Act (Government Code, Section 66484) authorizes cities and counties to charge developer fees to defray the costs of infrastructure improvements to support development projects. Current law limits the use of these fees for the mitigation of traffic impacts to bridges and major thoroughfares.

Statewide efforts, such as SB 375 and the development of regional sustainable communities strategies, encourage more compact growth and infill development in cities, existing urban cores, and urban unincorporated areas. 

There are many impediments to infill development; a primary issue is the cost of the necessary infrastructure improvements. Infill development projects can also require different types of transportation mitigation projects than the typical roadway or bridge improvement. 

Often times a city or county cannot add new or widen existing roads and/or bridges to support new development projects in built-our or nearly built-out urban areas. However, a city or county could mitigate the transportation impacts with other modal improvements such as adding or improving transit facilities such as bus turnouts and stops, bicycle lanes, and/or safe pedestrian paths. This is also consistent with statewide complete streets goals. 

Existing limitations on eligible uses limit local agencies from encouraging infill development. This measure seeks to provide cities and counties with the tools necessary to build required infrastructure to support infill development by expanding the allowable uses for transportation mitigation impact fees. These changes are consistent with statewide directives for infill development, transit-oriented development, more compact growth, and complete streets.

AB 147 was passed out of the Assembly Local Government Committee on April 13 and is now awaiting a vote by the entire Assembly.

AB 208 (Fuentes) – Support
As Amended on April 7, 2011

AB 208, by Assembly Member Felipe Fuentes, would extend by another 24 months the expiration date of any approved tentative map or vesting tentative map that has not expired as of the effective date of the bill, and will expire prior to January 1, 2014. The bill also includes the truncated language that reduces from five years to three years, the period of time during which cities and counties are prohibited from placing conditions on the issuance of any building permit, and authorizes permit fees.

AB 208 was passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee on April 13. The measure now awaits a vote by the entire Assembly. 

AB 1220 (Alejo) – Oppose
As Introduced on February 18, 2011

AB 1220, by Assembly Member Luis Alejo, would expand from over one year to five years the statute of limitations to sue a city or county, challenging the adoption of a housing element or a number of related ordinances. It will encourage a broad array of expensive lawsuits that do not differentiate between major noncompliance with state law or a small difference in interpretation. This will leave local agencies, businesses, and developers unfairly open to uncertainty long after decisions have been made. And, it is important to note that these challenges do not mandate approval of actual housing projects, but only require a change in a planning document.

Our concerns related to this bill are consistent with our opposition to similar bills introduced in previous legislative sessions – except that this year, cities and counties are even more strapped for funding and staff. 

As important, however, is the fact that this bill is not needed to enforce housing obligations. In Urban Habitats v. City of Pleasanton, the decision this bill is intended to overturn, the housing advocates were successful in reaching a settlement that overturned the City’s growth limit. There are also a number of new remedies available to housing advocates to enforce local housing obligations, at the very time local agencies will be expected to implement a large number of brand new housing element requirements. 

The law has to be balanced – for cities and counties, housing and commercial developers and advocates. This bill, under existing circumstances, is not a balanced approach. Under this bill, a small misstep on the part of the local agency can shut down development in a jurisdiction until a lawsuit is completed, even though more targeted remedies are available that can require a local agency to make a fix without imposing a full building moratorium until a court makes a final determination. And again: these challenges, costing local agencies millions of dollars to defend, are brought to require a specific change in a planning document, not to build housing. As such, CSAC is opposed to this measure. 

AB 1220 is set for hearing before the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee on April 27.

SB 244 (Wolk) – Oppose
As Amended on March 15, 2011

SB 244, by Senator Lois Wolk, would require a city or county to amend its general plan to address the presence of island, fringe, or legacy unincorporated communities inside or near its boundaries. The definition of communities to which this new mandate applies is extremely broad, including a fringe, island, or legacy community in which the median household income is 80% or less than the statewide median household income (a very high income threshold that will mandate additional planning efforts in many areas), any inhabited and unincorporated territory that is within a city’s sphere of influence or that is surrounded or substantially surrounded by one or more cities, or a geographically isolated community that is inhabited and has existed for at least 50 years – regardless of income in the community. 

Many cities and counties have taken steps to address disadvantaged unincorporated communities and our associations agree that substandard conditions should be addressed in a way that is appropriate to each community. We recognize the importance of an inclusive planning process that addresses the needs of communities and populations that have been historically underserved. Further, we understand the need to review other solutions that adequately consider disadvantaged communities with respect to infrastructure deficiencies and a general need to consider such communities in the context of other local government actions. 

However, as with last year’s SB 1174, we must oppose the general plan requirements included in the bill. Given the current recession, cities and counties continue to face funding shortfalls and insufficient staffing levels for planning, services and infrastructure improvements. As currently drafted, this bill would impose a very expensive new mandate on cities and counties to amend their general plans with an extraordinary amount of detail regarding not only disadvantaged but also “fringe communities” which are not required to meet the disadvantaged criteria. It also would require cities and counties to identify ways to mitigate a very broad and un-prioritized list of services in these communities without funds for either the planning requirements or to improve the services and infrastructure. 

SB 244 is set for hearing before the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on April 27.

Transportation

AB 296 (Skinner) – Request for Comment
As Amended on March 31, 2011

AB 296, by Assembly Member Nancy Skinner, would establish the Cool Pavements Research and Implementation Act and would require the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), in consultation with specified state agencies, to implement the act. The bill would require Caltrans to adopt a strategy, through a public process, to implement the act and, by January 1, 2015, to adopt by regulation a Cool Pavements Handbook to detail testing protocols, standards, and best practices. The bill would require the department to implement one or more cool pavement pilot projects, with the goal of completion of the pilot projects no later than January 1, 2018, and to submit a report to the Legislature with an analysis of the various costs of pavement surfaces and the results of the cool pavement pilot projects. The bill would direct the department, on and after January 1, 2018, to require a state paving project, as defined, to include a cool pavement surface that complies with the Cool Pavements Handbook for not less than 75% of the total project pavement surface area.

AB 296 was passed out of the Assembly Transportation Committee on April 11 by a vote of 8 to 5. The measure is awaiting a hearing in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. 

AB 345 (Atkins) – Request for Comment
As Amended on April 4, 2011

AB 345, by Assembly Member Toni Atkins, would require Caltrans to consult with groups representing users of streets, roads, and highways, in addition to local agencies, when adopting rules and regulations prescribing uniform standards and specifications for official traffic control devices. The bill would require any advisory group or committee organized by Caltrans for the purpose of advising the department to include other users and would define other users to include bicyclists, children, persons with disabilities, motorists, movers of commercial goods, pedestrians, users of public transportation, and seniors. 

AB 345 was passed out of the Assembly Transportation Committee on April 11 by a vote of 10 to 4. The measure is currently awaiting a hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. 

AB 516 (V. Manuel Perez) – Request for Comment
As Amended on April 13, 2011

AB 516, by Assembly Member V. Manuel Perez, would modify the Safe Routes to School (SR2S) program to increase participation from socio-economically disadvantaged schools and communities. Specifically, this bill would modify and expand the list of factors to be used to rate SR2S grant proposals to include the use of a public participation process.

AB 516 was passed out of the Assembly Transportation Committee on April 11 by a vote of 12 to 2. The measure now awaits a hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. 

AB 529 (Gatto) – Request for Comment 
As Amended on March 24, 2011

AB 529, by Assembly Member Mike Gatto, would allow a local authority to round speed limits down to within 10 kilometers per hour or 5 miles per hour of the 85th-percentile speed of free-flowing traffic in cases in which the speed would otherwise be rounded up, except that in those cases the local authority would be prohibited from petitioning Caltrans to reduce the speed limit by an additional 10 kilometers per hour or 5 miles per hour.

AB 529 was passed out of the Assembly Transportation Committee on April 11 by a unanimous vote. The measure has been sent to the Assembly Local Government Committee where it awaits a hearing. 

AB 892 (Carter) – Support
As Amended on April 6, 2011

AB 892, by Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter, would extend the State of California’s existing limited waiver of its sovereign immunity, which is necessary to allow the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to continue its assumptions of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) responsibilities under Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). Specifically, the measure extends the limited waiver of sovereign immunity until January 1, 2019, or until a termination of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the California Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. 

Caltrans has been participating in the “Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program” (Pilot Program) under a MOU since July 1, 2007. To assume these federal responsibilities, Caltrans was required to accept the jurisdiction of the federal courts, necessitating the limited waiver of sovereign immunity. 

The Pilot Program is intended to streamline the process for approving transportation projects by allowing Caltrans to assume FHWA’s responsibility for approvals and consultations under NEPA and other federal laws while maintaining all federal environmental protections. The program requires Caltrans to comply with all FHWA NEPA regulations, environmental policies and formal guidance. Under the program, one layer of bureaucracy, related to FHWA’s review of environmental documents, is removed, decreasing the time required for environmental approvals. 

Based on the first 3.5 years of the Pilot Program, Caltrans has achieved a median time savings of 14 months in preparing and approving routine environmental documents, measured from when environmental studies begin until the final environmental document is signed. These time savings are based on almost 70 projects for which Caltrans independently made environmental approvals for both the draft and final environmental document under the Pilot Program. 

This legislation is a key element in helping Caltrans streamline the environmental review process for critical transportation projects. For these reasons, CSAC supports AB 892.

AB 892 is set for hearing before the Assembly Transportation Committee on April 25. 

AB 1134 (Bonilla) – Request for Comment
As Amended on March 21, 2011

AB 1134, by Assembly Member Susan Bonilla, would authorize Caltrans to prepare project study reports for any project on the state highway system. The bill would require project study reports to include specified project-related factors, including, among other things, cost estimates, schedule, and other information deemed necessary to form a sound basis for commitment of future state funding and project delivery. The bill would require an entity performing a project study report to reimburse Caltrans for the cost of reviewing and approving a report for projects that are not in an adopted regional transportation plan, a voter-approved county sales tax measure expenditure plan, or another voter-approved transportation program. The bill would authorize a local entity to request the department to prepare a project study report for a state highway project that is being proposed for inclusion in a future state transportation improvement program or for funding from a regional or local funding source and would authorize the local entity to prepare the report at its own expense if the department determines that it cannot complete the report. The bill would require open and continuous communication between the department, a local entity requesting a project study report, and the regional transportation planning agency or county transportation commission. The bill would require the department, in consultation with representatives of cities, counties, regional transportation planning agencies, and county congestion management agencies, to prepare draft revised guidelines for the preparation of project study reports, as specified, and would require the department to submit the draft revised guidelines to the California Transportation Commission by July 1, 2012. The bill would require the
California Transportation Commission to adopt final guidelines by October 1, 2012, and would make the guidelines applicable to project study reports upon adoption of the guidelines.

AB 1134 was passed out of the Assembly Transportation Committee on April 11 by a unanimous vote. The bill currently awaits a hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. 

AB 1308 (Miller) – Support
As Introduced on February 18, 2011

AB 1308, by Assembly Member Jeff Miller, would ensure that Highway User Tax Account (HUTA) funds continue to flow to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), public transportation agencies, and cities and counties in the absence of an adopted state budget. Specifically, under the provisions of the measure, counties will not experience delays in transportation funding that have plagued local governments over the past few budget cycles causing project delays and potential lay-offs across the state. 

HUTA funds are the most critical county transportation revenue stream for the maintenance and preservation of the local streets and roads system for the efficient and safe mobility of its users. This funding is even more critical since the enactment of the transportation tax swap in which the sales tax on gasoline was eliminated and replaced with an equal amount of excise tax. With this new scheme, transportation funding for counties is practically entirely made up of HUTA revenue. For these reasons, CSAC supports your AB 1308. 

AB 1308 was passed out of the Assembly Transportation Committee on April 11 by a unanimous vote. The measure is in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where it has been recommend for the consent calendar at the next hearing. 

AB 1354 (Huber) – Pending
As Amended on April 12, 2011

AB 1354, by Assembly Member Alyson Huber, would require, among other things, that contract retention proceeds not exceed five percent of the payment of all contracts entered into after January 2012, between a public entity and an original contractor, between an original contractor and a subcontractor, and between all subcontractors. 

While CSAC has not taken an official position on the measure, we have opposed similar bills in the past and have concerns that this bill removes the authority of public entities to decide the appropriate amount of retention. CSAC anticipates taking a formal position next week and in the meantime wanted to make counties aware of the measure.

AB 1354 is set for hearing before the Assembly Business, Professions, and Consumer Protection Committee on April 26.

Indian Gaming

AB 742 (Nestande) – Request for Comment
As Amended on March 31, 2011

AB 742, by Assembly Member Brian Nestande, would, when implementing local community grants for the mitigation of casino impacts under the Special Distribution Fund, require each grant application to clearly show how the grant will mitigate the impact of the casino on the grant applicant. The measure would also require each Indian Gaming Local Community Benefit Committee to adopt and approve a Conflict of Interest Code pursuant to these provisions. The bill would require any existing Conflict of Interest Code to be reviewed and amended as necessary to bring it into compliance with these requirements.

AB 742 was passed out of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee on April 13 by a unanimous vote. The measure now awaits a hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

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