CSAC Bulletin Article

Housing, Land Use and Transportation 05/18/2012

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 was placed on the suspense file during the Assembly Appropriations Committee hearing on May 16. 

Planning

AB 1897 (Campos) – Neutral
As Amended on May 17, 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, the mandate has been removed as well as the legislative findings and declarations that CSAC was most recently opposed to. With the May 17 amendments, CSAC is now neutral on the measure. We appreciate the Assembly Member’s willingness to work with us to address our concerns.

AB 1897 was passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 16 by a vote of 12 to 5. 

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. 

AB 1706 was placed on the suspense file during the Assembly Appropriations Committee hearing on May 16.

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County Of The Week:
Merced