CSAC Bulletin Article

Housing, Land Use and Transportation 06/10/2011

Land Use 

AB 147 (Dickinson) – Sponsor 
As Amended on May 31, 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 Senate Governance and Finance Committee on June 8 by a vote of 6 to 3 and is now awaiting a vote by the entire Senate.

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 Senate Governance and Finance Committee on June 8 by a unanimous vote. The measure now awaits a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

AB 1220 (Alejo) – Oppose
As Amended on April 25, 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 Senate Transportation and Housing Committee on June 14.

Indian Gaming

AB 798 (Chesbro) – Support
As Introduced on February 17, 2011

AB 798, by Assembly Member Wesley Chesbro, would authorize the Smith River Rancheria Tribal Council to enter into a joint powers agreement (JPA) with the County of Del Norte, the City of Crescent City, or both, and declares Smith River Rancheria to be a public agency for purposes of that JPA.

Existing law provides the Elk Valley Rancheria the authority to enter into a JPA with the County of Del Norte for purposes of the Border Coast Regional Airport Authority. The purpose of the JPA is to provide more effective management and operation of the Jack McNamara Field. AB 798 simply provides identical authority to the Smith River Rancheria. Governmental members of the JPA all support extending this authority. 

AB 798 was passed out of the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on June 8 by a unanimous vote and now awaits a vote before the entire Senate.

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