CSAC Bulletin Article

Housing Land Use and Transportation 10/04/2013

Native American Lands

CSAC comments on federal land-into-trust and tribal acknowledgement policies
Congress continues to focus on policies for trust land acquisition for Indian tribes in the wake of the Carcieri Supreme Court decision. That decision has prevented the Department of the Interior from acquiring lands to be held in trust for tribes that were not under federal jurisdiction when the Indian Reorganization Act was passed by Congress in 1934. While many tribal interests are advocating for a “clean” legislative fix that would once again give the Secretary delegated authority to acquire trust lands for all federally-recognized tribes, CSAC and others are advocating for an overhaul to the fee-to-trust process as part of any legislation designed to address Carcieri. 
This week, CSAC provided written testimony to a recent hearing of the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs on the Bureau of Indian Affair’s (BIA) standards for trust land decisions for gaming purposes. CSAC’s testimony focused on the need to create clear standards, improve transparency, ensure that the fee-to-trust process includes an analysis of the need and purpose for acquisition of additional trust lands, require specific representations as to the intended use for new trust lands and ensure that uses cannot be changed without additional review, and provide incentives for tribes to cooperate and negotiate mitigation agreements with affected local governments. A copy of CSAC’s testimony is available online here.

CSAC also recently provided comments on a Discussion Draft document issued by the BIA on their policies and procedures for acknowledging Native American groups as federally-recognized tribes. CSAC commented due to the clear link between federal recognition, the acquisition of trust lands and tribal economic development projects on those lands. CSAC encouraged the BIA to consult with local governments and facilitate an open and public acknowledgement process. CSAC’s comments are available here.

Finally, last summer, CSAC provided comments on new regulations issues by the BIA in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Patchak. The practical effect of the Patchak ruling was to expand the universe of individuals and groups that have standing to challenge in court the federal government’s decision to take land into trust for a tribe, and to extend from thirty days to six years the time period in which a challenger can bring an action. In response, the BIA issued proposed regulations that would further reduce the transparency of the fee-to-trust process; eliminating a thirty-day wait period for taking lands into trust once the BIA or Secretary has made a decision, as well as ending the BIA’s policy of staying its decision to take land into trust when a lawsuit challenging a trust decision is filed. CSAC’s comment letter is available here.


California featured in report on deteriorating roadways
On October 3, a national transportation advocacy group called TRIP issued a report on the condition of the nation’s urban streets and roads and the additional costs to motorists of driving on roads with poor pavement conditions. The report found that over a quarter of the nation’s urban streets and roads have pavements in an unacceptably rough condition, and, as a result, the average motorist pays an additional $377 in annual vehicle operating costs. The full report is available here.
While the report uses a different methodology than the Statewide Local Streets and Roads Needs Assessment in which counties have participated, its findings are unsurprising to anyone familiar with the condition of California’s transportation infrastructure. CSAC continues to work with our partners to express the urgent need for additional investment in local transportation networks as pavement conditions continues to degrade. The website for Local Streets and Roads Needs Assessment is here.

Land Use

Strategic Growth Council issues revised Proposition 84 planning grant guidelines
The Strategic Growth Council (SGC) has posted the Revised Draft Program Guidelines for the Proposition 84 Sustainable Communities Planning Grant and Incentives Program. The principal goal of the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant program is to fund the development and implementation of plans that lead to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in a manner consistent with the State Planning Priorities and AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. 
The revised draft guidelines and other information are available here. The SGC is accepting comments on the draft until October 18. We encourage counties to submit individual comments and to share any comments or concerns with CSAC staff by October 14.
New guide encourages health priorities in all policies
Because where we live, work and play have a significant impact on our health, it is important that health be a top priority in education, transportation, planning, food, and other policies. A new publication, “Health in All Policies: A Guide for State and Local Governments was released October 1, 2013, and is designed to help improve the public’s health and create safer environments by incorporating health considerations into decision-making across all sectors and policy areas. The guide is available online here

Written by public health practitioners, the guide was developed in collaboration with the American Public Health Association, California Department of Public Health, and Public Health Institute. It features strategies that counties may want to consider as they promote good health and sustainability across the community. The Guide includes tips for engaging stakeholders, building relationships, and making joint decisions across community sectors. The report also includes guidance on developing messages around the health in all policies concept as well as examples of co-benefits that can be attained through strong public health policy.

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