CSAC Bulletin Article

Housing, Land Use and Transportation 10/14/2011

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) 

AB 931 (Dickinson) – Support 
Two-Year Bill 

AB 931, by Assembly Member Roger Dickinson, would, until January 1, 2015, allow a “transit proximity project” to be subject to certain environmental review procedures contained in SB 375 until adoption of a sustainable communities strategy. The bill would also allow an “employment priority project” to be subject to those environmental review procedures until adoption of a sustainable communities strategy, and sunsets January 1, 2015. The measure also revises the residential infill exemption by increasing the amount of allowable neighborhood-serving goods, services, or retail uses from 15% to 25% of the building square footage.

SB 226 (Simitian) – Oppose
Chapter No. 469, Statutes of 2011

SB 226, by Senator Joe Simitian, makes a number of changes related to CEQA exemptions, streamlining, and the comment process. Specifically, the bill:

  • Exempts from CEQA review the installation of a solar energy system on the roof of an existing building or at an existing parking lot.
  • Authorizes referral of a proposed action to adopt or substantially amend a general plan to an adjacent local government to be conducted concurrently with a scoping meeting required by CEQA for a project of statewide, regional or area-wide significance, and authorizes a local agency to submit its comments on the proposed general plan action at a CEQA scoping meeting.
  • Provides that a project’s greenhouse gas emissions shall not, by themselves, cause the project to be ineligible for a categorical exemption from CEQA review if the project complies with regulations adopted to implement related statewide, regional or local plans as provided in the CEQA guidelines.
  • Requires the Office of Planning and Research (OPR), by July 1, 2012, to develop and send to the Natural Resources Agency proposed CEQA guidelines for statewide standards for the review of infill projects that promote specified state environmental, transportation and land use goals and requires the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency to certify and adopt the guidelines by January 1, 2013.
  • Limits the application of CEQA in the case of the approval of an infill project that meets the statewide standards in the OPR guidelines authorized above.
  • Provides that CEQA does not require a public agency to consider written materials submitted after the close of the public comment period, with exceptions for materials addressing new information released after the close of the public comment period and permits a lead agency to elect to ignore written materials submitted after the close of the public comment period and provides that such materials shall not be raised in judicial review.

This bill also allows several large scale renewable energy projects under consideration at the Energy Commission to convert from solar thermal to photovoltaic technology, without the need to file an entirely new application for certification or notice. For information on this provision, please see the Agriculture & Natural Resources article in this same issue of The CSAC Bulletin.

SB 226 was signed by the Governor on October 4, 2011. 

With respect to the provision that OPR develop guidelines for statewide standards for the review of infill projects, CSAC has already expressed our interest in assisting with the process and providing meaningful feedback and suggestions to ensure the standards consider and provide for infill opportunities in urban unincorporated areas.

Housing

AB 542 (Allen) – Support
Two-Year Bill

AB 542, by Assembly Member Michael Allen, would require, under housing element law, densities less than those specified in the housing element, to be deemed appropriate to accommodate housing for lower income households, if the site is owned by a city or county planning agency and set aside for affordable housing development, or if the planning agency has offered to provide subsidies per unit for affordable housing construction.

AB 1220 (Alejo) – Oppose
Vetoed

AB 1220, by Assembly Member Luis Alejo, would have expanded from over one year to three years the statute of limitations to sue a city or county, challenging the adoption of a housing element or a number of related ordinances. While over the course of the 2011 legislative year the author amended the measure to reduce the original SOL proposal from five to three years, it is still far too long. CSAC opposes a broad statute that allows any interested party to sue struggling cities and counties three years after a decision is made.

AB 1220 was vetoed by the Governor on October 9, 2011.

Land Use/Planning 

AB 129 (Beall) – Support
Vetoed

AB 129, by Assembly Member Jim Beall, would have authorized 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 measure would also have authorized a local agency to appoint a hearing officer to hear and decide issues regarding ordinance violations and the imposition of administrative fines and penalties.

AB 129 was vetoed by the Governor on October 2, 2011. 

AB 147 (Dickinson) – Sponsor
Chapter No. 228, Statutes of 2011

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

AB 147 was signed by the Governor on September 6, 2011.

AB 208 (Fuentes) – Support
Chapter No. 88, Statutes of 2011

AB 208, by Assembly Member Felipe Fuentes, extends by 24 months the expiration date of any tentative map, vesting tentative map or parcel map for which a tentative map or tentative vesting map has been approved that has not expired when this bill becomes effective (January 1, 2012) and that will expire before January 1, 2014. The bill also extends the expiration date by 24 months for any legislative, administrative or other approval by a state agency relating to a development project included in a map that is extended.

AB 208 was signed by the Governor on July 1, 2011. 

SB 184 (Leno) – Support
Two-Year Bill

SB 184, by Senator Mark Leno, would restore to counties and cities a tool for planning and providing their fair share of the housing need for lower-income residents in the state by making explicit that local inclusionary policies are not prohibited under the Costa-Hawkins Act.

SB 214 (Wolk) – Support
Two-Year Bill 

SB 214, by Senator Lois Wolk, would remove the voter approval requirements for Infrastructure Financing Districts. 

SB 244 (Wolk) – Opposition Removed
Chapter No. 513, Statutes of 2011

SB 244, by Senator Lois Wolk, requires cities, counties, and local agency formation commissions to analyze infrastructure deficiencies in unincorporated disadvantaged communities.

While CSAC was in strong opposition to the new planning mandates included in the measure at the time of its introduction, we were able to negotiate amendments to remove our concerns and opposition to the measure. With respect to new planning requirements, a county must, on or before the next adoption of its housing element, review and update the land use element to include the identification of each legacy community within the county. The update must, for each legacy community, include an analysis of water, wastewater, stormwater drainage, and structural fire protection needs or deficiencies. Finally, the update must also include an analysis, based on existing and available data, of benefit assessment districts or other financing alternatives that could make the extension of services financially feasible.

The remaining new requirements in the bill on local governments are much less costly, burdensome, and time consuming than the mandates included at the time of introduction. Further, numerous counties continue to struggle with how to address infrastructure deficiencies within these communities that are often times left behind when nearby land is annexed for economic development purposes. The bill takes a first step in trying to identify deficiencies and plan for potential funding opportunities to address them. 

SB 244 was signed by the Governor on October 7, 2011. 

SB 730 (Kehoe) – Watch
Two-Year Bill 

SB 730, by Senator Christine Kehoe, would require the California Energy Commission to develop a pilot project to address issues relating to electric vehicle charging infrastructure needs. Specifically, the pilot project must include the development of expedited and streamlined local permitting of charging infrastructure (which typically requires building permits as well as approval by an electric utility), customer outreach, and planning for public and workplace charging opportunities.

Public Works Administration

AB 720 (Hall) – Opposition Removed
Chapter No. 683, Statutes of 2011

AB 720, by Assembly Member Isadore Hall, limits the ability of a county under the California Uniform Construction Cost Accounting Act (Act) from utilizing an alternative contracting procedure (Road Commissioner Authority) for new road construction and road reconstruction projects, while preserving a counties ability to perform maintenance and emergency work by force account. The bill doesn’t take effect until January 1, 2013. 

AB 720 was signed by the Governor on October 9, 2011. 

CSAC is currently working with the sponsors and the State Controller’s Office on implementation measures to ensure more accurate reporting for the Annual Streets and Roads Report and to reflect the intent of AB 720. 

AB 943 (Williams) – Support
Chapter No. 110, Statutes of 2011

AB 943, by Assembly Member Das Williams, increases the limits under which jurisdictions can use informal bidding procedures for public works contracts under the Uniform Public Construction Cost Accounting Act (UPCCAA) from $125,000 to $175,000.

AB 943 was signed by the Governor on July 25, 2011.

SB 293 (Padilla) – Oppose
Chapter No. 700, Statutes of 2011

SB 293, by Senator Alex Padilla, caps retention on a public works project at five percent. 

SB 293 was signed by the Governor on October 9, 2011. 

CSAC requests that counties get in touch with CSAC staff  to report any problems they experience with public works contracts and ensuring on-time and on-budget delivery of public works projects when the measure takes effect on January 1, 2012. CSAC has long opposed this proposal and needs to gather data on actual projects where a maximum five-percent retention is not sufficient should this issue arise in the future.

Transportation 

AB 105 (Committee on Budget) – Support
Chapter No. 6, Statutes of 2011

AB 105, by the Committee on Budget, is the transportation budget trailer bill that CSAC supported for several reasons. First, it validated the “gas tax swap” legislation initially passed by the Legislature in March 2010. Recall that the swap repealed the sales tax on gasoline (Prop 42 and spillover) and replaced it with a 17.3-cent increase in the gasoline excise tax (HUTA) and a 1.75 percent increase in the sales tax on diesel, which corresponded to the amount of revenue the sales tax on gasoline was generating at the time the legislation was passed. Due to the passage of Proposition 22 and Proposition 26 this validation was necessary to preserve the state general fund savings agreed to under the swap and continue $1.5 billion of annual investment for funding state highways, local streets and roads and transit.

AB 105 also included the two technical changes requested by CSAC. The first technical fix extends the use-it-or-lose-it period for expenditure of Prop 1B local streets and roads funds by one year due to previous Highway User Tax Account (HUTA) deferrals. New use-it-or-lose-it deadlines are as follows:

  • For allocations made in FY 2007-08 the use-it-or-lose-it is now June 30, 2012;
  • For allocations made in FY 2008-09 the use-it-or-lose-it is now June 30, 2013; and
  • For allocations made in FY 2009-10 the use-it-or-lose-it is now June 30, 2014.

The second technical fix relates to ensuring that Prop 42 provisions, such as, maintenance of effort, use-it-or-lose-it, and limitations on project eligibility types do not apply to the new HUTA funds under the swap. Therefore, all HUTA or gas tax monies (Sections 2103 – 2106) will be treated equally.

AB 105 was signed by the Governor on March 24, 2011.

AB 345 (Atkins) – Support
Two-Year Bill

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 put on the inactive file by Assembly Member Atkins and is a two-year bill. It is our understanding that the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is working to incorporate the changes proposed in AB 345 administratively and therefore the bill is unnecessary at this time. 
AB 516 (V. Manuel Perez) – Watch
Chapter No. 277, Statutes of 2011

AB 516, by Assembly Member V. Manuel Perez, modifies the Safe Routes to School program to promote increased participation from socio-economically disadvantaged schools and communities.

AB 516 was signed by the Governor on September 9, 2011. 

AB 650 (Blumenfield) – Support
Vetoed

AB 650, by Assembly Member Bob Blumenfield, would have established the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Public Transportation for the 21st Century and would require the task force to prepare a written report that contains findings and recommendations relating to, among other things, the current state of California’s transit system, the estimated cost of creating the needed system over various terms, and potential sources of funding to sustain the transit system’s needs, and to submit the report by March 31, 2013. 

AB 650 was vetoed by the Governor on September 26, 2011.

AB 890 (Olsen) – Support
Two-Year Bill 

AB 890, by Assembly Member Kristin Olsen, would exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a roadway improvement project or activity that is undertaken by a city, county, or city and county within an existing road right-of-way for the purposes of roadway improvement that includes, but is not limited to, shoulder widening, guardrail improvement, minor drainage, culvert replacement, traffic signal modification, and safety improvements.

AB 892 (Carter) – Support
Chapter No. 482, Statutes of 2011

AB 892, by Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter, removes the sunset date, and thereby makes permanent California’s consent to participate in the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) Pilot Project, established under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), under which participating states assume certain responsibilities for environmental review and clearance of transportation projects that would otherwise be the responsibility of the federal government. 

AB 892 was signed by the Governor on October 6, 2011. 

AB 1308 (Miller) – Support
Two-Year Bill

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. 

SB 907 (Evans) – Support if Amended
Two-Year Bill

SB 907, by Senator Noreen Evans, would create the Master Plan for Infrastructure Financing and Development Commission and would require the Commission to prepare and submit a strategy and plan for infrastructure development in California by December 1, 2013.

Indian Gaming

AB 307 (Nestande) – Watch
Chapter No. 266, Statutes of 2011

AB 307, by Assembly Member Brian Nestande, includes a federally recognized Indian tribe as a public agency that may enter into a joint powers agreement (JPA). The measure also prohibits any JPA that includes a federally recognized Indian tribe from authorizing or issuing bonds pursuant to the Marks-Roos Local Bond Pooling Act of 1985 unless the public improvements to be funded by the bonds will be owned and maintained by the authority or one or more of its public agency members, and the revenue streams pledged to repay the bonds derive from the authority or one or more of its public agency members.

AB 307 was signed by the Governor on September 6, 2011. 

AB 798 (Chesbro) – Support
Chapter No. 85, Statutes of 2011

AB 798, by Assembly Member Wesley Chesbro, authorizes 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.

AB 798 was signed by the Governor on July 15, 2011. 

AB 1417 (Hall) – Support
Chapter No. 736, Statutes of 2011

AB 1417, by Assembly Member Isadore Hall, appropriates $9.1 million from the Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund (SDF) for grants to local governments to help off-set the impacts on infrastructure and public services from tribal gaming.

AB 1417 was signed by the Governor on October 9, 2011. 

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