CSAC Bulletin Article

Housing, Land Use and Transportation 05/11/2012

Governor Brown Appoints Director of Transportation

Governor Brown appointed a director to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) on May 9. Malcolm Dougherty, 43, of Fresno, has been serving as acting director since 2011 and chief deputy director since 2010. Accordingly to the Governor’s press release, Dougherty has served in various positions at Caltrans, including deputy director for project delivery from 2009 to 2010, district director for District 6 from 2006 to 2009, division chief of central regional program management from 2005 to 2006, deputy district director of maintenance and traffic operations for District 6 from 2001 to 2005 and office chief and senior transportation engineer for District 6 from 1992 to 2001. Dougherty was a civil engineer at Federici and Akin P.A. from 1991 to 1992. His appointment will go before the Senate Rules Committee for confirmation.

Housing

AB 2447 (Skinner & Perez) – Support in Concept
As Amended on April 30, 2012

AB 2447, by Assembly Member Nancy Skinner and Speaker John Perez, the California Neighborhood Revitalization Partnership Act of 2012, would create a competitive grant program for financing the purchase of foreclosed homes, the establishment of land banks for foreclosed homes, the demolition of blighted structures, and the redevelopment of demolished or vacant properties. The bill would transfer $25 million from bond monies made available to the California Homebuyer’s Downpayment Assistance Program from the Self-Help Housing Fund to a newly created fund, the California Neighborhood Revitalization Fund, for these purposes. Finally, the California Housing Finance Authority would be required to develop and issue guidelines for implementation of the grant program by March 2013.

CSAC supports the goal of the measure – to address the negative effects of the foreclosure crisis on California’s neighborhoods and communities. Furthermore, CSAC supports efforts for the development and financing of affordable housing for low-to-moderate income households. 

While we support the goals of the measure, we offered the following comments from counties for the authors and committee members to consider during the hearing:

  1. The five percent administration cost allowance provided for in Section 53569(d) is too low if applied to the grant recipients. A minimum of ten percent of the grant award is needed for administration.
  2. Section 53572 (2) requires “a contribution of a specified percentage of funds leveraged from other sources”. Given the recent loss of the 20 percent set-aside for low-income housing, the lack of other local funds, and the continued cutbacks at the state level in regard to other state funding programs, it may be very difficult for some jurisdictions to secure additional funding for leverage. For those counties that have been severely affected by foreclosures, it seems to give an advantage to jurisdictions that have been less affected by foreclosures, whose economies may be more robust, and have more funds available to access for use as leverage.
  3. The program should set-aside a certain percentage of the overall funds for smaller/rural jurisdictions. For example, smaller counties were not eligible to apply for the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Often times it is challenging for smaller/rural jurisdictions to compete with larger agencies in grant programs even though these areas have been negatively affected by the foreclosure crisis. A rural set-aside would level the playing field by guaranteeing at least a small portion of the funds are eligible for these areas.

AB 2447 is set for hearing before the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 16. 

SB 1220 (DeSaulnier) – Request for Comment
As Amended on April 16, 2012

SB 1220, by Senator Mark DeSaulnier, would impose a fee of $75 on the recording of each real-estate related document, except for those documents recorded in connection with a transfer subject to documentary transfer tax, and directs the money to the Housing Opportunity and Market Stabilization (HOMeS) Trust Fund. 

The HOMeS Trust Fund would be used for the development, acquisition, rehabilitation, and preservation of homes affordable to low- and moderate-income households, including emergency shelters, transitional and permanent rental housing, foreclosure mitigation, and homeownership opportunities. However, SB 1220 does not allocate funds to particular programs or uses. Instead, it leaves the decision on allocation to the Legislature each year as part of the budget process. 

SB 1220 was placed on the suspense file at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on May 8. 

Planning

AB 1897 (Campos) – Oppose Unless Amended
As Amended on May 2, 2012 

AB 1897, by Assembly Member Nora Campos, would authorize the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to prepare and amend the General Plan Guidelines to contain advice, developed in consultation with the Department of Food and Agriculture, for improving the health of Californians by increasing access to healthy affordable food.

As introduced, the measure was much more prescriptive and would have required counties and cities to undertake new mandates in the general plan process. As amended on May 2, the mandate was removed, however the measure still makes a number of legislative findings and declarations related to the need to expedite local development processes, ensure that local governments zone sufficient land, and ensure that local governments make regulatory concessions in order to improve healthy foods for Californians.

CSAC now has an oppose unless amended position requesting that the author remove the legislative findings and declarations which we understand the she intends to do. We will remove opposition as soon as the bill is amended to reflect these changes. 

AB 1897 was passed out of the Assembly Local Government Committee on May 9 by a vote of 6 to 3. Assembly Member Campos did commit to taking the current legislative findings and declarations out of the measure and plans to replace it with new language. CSAC will continue to monitor amendments to the bill and work with stakeholders to develop appropriate replacement language. 

The measure is set for hearing before the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 16. 

Public Works Administration

SB 1516 (Leno) – Request for Comment
As Amended on April 9, 2012

SB 1516, by Senator Mark Leno, would prohibit bid specifications from requiring a bidder to provide submission of data substantiating a request for a substitution of “an equal” item prior to the bid or proposal submission deadline. 

SB 1516 is set for hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 14.

Transportation

AB 1706 (Eng) – Concerns
As Amended on April 30, 2012

AB 1706, by Assembly Member Mike Eng, would:

  • Make findings regarding the role and history of public transit in California;
  • Exempt transit buses from the current axle weight limits until January 1, 2016;
  • Allow, until December 31, 2015, public transit agency contracts for the procurement of public transit buses issued after January 1, 2013, to purchase buses that do not exceed 22,400 pounds; and,
  • Require that the Secretary of the Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency convene a task force to study a variety of issues relating to bus weights and the impact of heavy buses on highways, streets, and roads.

As explained, the majority of buses are currently operating above the legal weight limit, and the cause of the increased weight is a variety of state and federal statutory and regulatory requirements that have been imposed after the weight limits were established in law.

Counties value the services that transit operators provide to California’s communities and we have made a commitment to explore possible solutions with the sponsors. Unfortunately, as in print, CSAC, working with the League of California Cities and other stakeholders, have not yet identified a solution that is amenable for all stakeholders. There are many different issues to address including buses available for procurement, the impact of heavier buses on local streets and roads, and roadway safety concerns. 

Many cities and counties have made significant financial commitments to their transit service providers. At the same time, cities and counties continue to experience a staggering funding shortfall for the maintenance and preservation of the local streets and roads system. We cannot simply ignore the findings of the most recent Local Streets and Roads Needs Assessment which reported a $78.9 billion 10-year shortfall. If there is any way to continue to provide transit services without significantly impacting the roadway system, it needs to be fully explored. For this reason, we may be able to support the report requirements of the bill. 

CSAC and the League will continue to work with the author and sponsors to find a mutually agreeable solution. 

The measure is set for hearing before the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 16. 

AB 2231 (Fuentes) – Oppose
As Amended on April 23, 2012

AB 2231, by Assembly Member Felipe Fuentes, would amend long-standing statues related to sidewalk repairs, drastically changing current law and disrupting the many successful and orderly sidewalk repair programs in place in cities and counties throughout the state. 

Current law provides that property owners are responsible for repairs on sidewalks adjacent to their property. However, AB 2231 would effect a major change in California law by making cities and counties responsible for the repair of any sidewalks they “own” or that have been damaged by any plant or tree. 

As introduced the bill would also have made cities and counties liable for any injury resulting from the failure to repair and prohibits cities and counties from imposing an assessment on the adjacent property owner for the repair of the sidewalk. However, the April 23 amendments appear to remove the liability issue CSAC was concerned about. We still have concerns with the new mandate associated with making counties and cities responsible for sidewalk repairs damaged by plants or trees and as such remain opposed to the measure. 

AB 2231 was placed on the suspense file at the Assembly Appropriations Committee hearing on May 9.

SB 1149 (DeSaulnier) – Request for Comment
As Amended on May 1, 2012

SB 1149, by Senator Mark DeSaulnier, would reform the regional governance process in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. The bill would create the Bay Area Regional Commission (BARC) to coordinate regional planning and policy decisions dealing with transportation, housing, air quality, sustainable community strategies, economic development, and other regional issues. 

The Bay Area region has a number of several single-purpose regional agencies:

  • Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG)
  • Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)
  • Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD)
  • San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC)
  • San Francisco Bay Region Regional Water Quality Control Board

The Joint Policy Committee (JPC) was created in 2003 to coordinate ABAG and MTC’s regional planning efforts. BAAQMD and BCDC were added through subsequent legislation. The intent is that the JPC coordinates the various regional planning efforts. According to the legislative committee analysis, the JPC lacks the authority to make binding policy decisions or the ability to override policy decisions by individual member agencies. Given the mandate to develop Sustainable Communities Strategies (SCSs) pursuant to SB 375, “some Bay Area elected officials worry that the JPC will be unable to achieve the close integration of transportation planning, land use planning, and air quality regulation that is necessary to achieve SB 375’s goals.”

Specifically, BARC would take the place of the JPC and would add new duties, responsibilities, powers, and purposes which include (not an exhaustive list):

  • Election: require the BARC to establish 15 districts in the region and hold an election to elect commissioners to serve initial two- or four-year terms beginning January 1, 2015.
  • Reorganization/Administration: require BARC to appoint an Executive Director. The ED would develop a regional reorganization plan to reducing the cost of overhead, operations, and management, adopt goals for integrating the various regional planning requirements into one comprehensive regional plan, and consider consolidation functions and duties.
  • Reorganization/Administration: existing individual regional agencies would become branches of the BARC. Individual regional agencies would continue to follow specific statutory direction except for when SB 1149 provides otherwise, i.e. BARC requires redrafting of plans.
  • Budget/Fiscal Authority: BARC assumes fiscal authority for regional agencies. BARC will also develop an integrated budget and report annually on specific performance criteria.
  • Regional Planning: Review and comment on draft and final regional transportation and sustainable communities plans until January 1, 2017. After that date, the BARC would also review for consistency with overall policies for the region and make a consistency finding. Most importantly, BARC would adopt individual agency plans and could require the individual agencies to redraft the plans in accordance with BARC’s findings.
  • Economic Development Planning: BARC would develop a 20-year economic development strategy and individual agencies will be required to integrate similar policies into their plans.

SB 1149 was passed out of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee and the Senate Governance and Finance Committee this week with the understanding that Senator DeSaulnier intends current language in the bill to serve as a starting point for conversations. It’s our understanding the measure will be held in the Appropriations Committee to allow for further discussions on the proposal. 

Indian Gaming

AB 517 (Hall) – Support
As Amended on April 26, 2012

AB 517, by Assembly Member Isadore Hall, would ratify the Tribal-State Gaming Compact executed on March 27, 2012 between the State of California and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.

CSAC has been involved in Tribal gaming issues since 1999 when then Governor Gray Davis entered into Tribal-State Gaming Compacts with approximately 65 Tribes for the operation of casinos in California. While Tribal gaming policy is largely directed at the federal and state levels, the most significant impacts from casinos are borne by local communities and governments. Since the first compacts were entered into, and after working with Tribes across the state, counties have collectively developed a wealth of experience and knowledge, specifically with respect to implementation of compacts. 

It is based on this experience that CSAC has developed the following policy and overall compact objectives in which to analyze current and future new and renegotiated compacts: 1) promote local government-tribal judicially enforceable agreements; 2) improve the integrity of tribal environmental review analysis; 3) ensure that off-reservation impacts of tribal casinos are fully mitigated; and 4) provide adequate time for both comment on environmental documents and meaningful negotiations. 

Equally important is CSAC’s policy that recognizes and respects the tribal right of self-governance to provide for the welfare of its tribal members and to preserve traditional tribal culture and heritage. In similar fashion, CSAC recognizes and respects the counties’ legal responsibility to provide for the health, safety, environment, infrastructure, and general welfare of all members of their communities.

The Graton Tribal-State Gaming Compact as proposed for ratification in AB 517 is an important and significant step in appropriately balancing the needs of Tribes and local government. We appreciate the Governor and Tribe’s willingness to work together to address these issues in a manner which CSAC hopes will become a template for future agreements.

AB 517 was approved by both the Assembly and Senate on May 10.

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