CSAC Bulletin Article

Housing, Land Use and Transportation 11/23/2010

2010 Annual Meeting Recap

Housing, Land Use, and Transportation Policy Committee Summary

The Housing, Land Use, and Transportation Policy Committee had a very successful meeting during the CSAC Annual Meeting in Riverside last week. Not only was the meeting well attended, the agenda was full of useful information and timely topics and participation by committee members led to meaningful discussion on a variety of issues. CSAC staff would like to thank our Chair and Vice Chair – Supervisor Paul Biane (San Bernardino County) and Supervisor Efren Carrillo (Sonoma County) – for their contributions and leadership. Some of the major highlights from the meeting include:

Approval of a motion to sponsor two pieces of legislation in 2011, which were later supported by the CSAC Board of Directors. CSAC will sponsor legislation that seeks to:

  • Expand the eligible uses for transportation mitigation impact fees under the Subdivision Map Act for transit, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities. Current authority only allows these funds for bridge and roadway improvements. Counties need greater flexibility to mitigate the impacts of development beyond roadway improvements. Often, counties cannot add new or update existing roadway infrastructure for redevelopment and infill projects in built-out or nearly built-out urban areas. However, infrastructure improvements for other transportation modes can mitigate the impacts of development.
  • Amend existing requirements for counties to qualify for a CEQA exemption for infill housing projects. Public Resources Code, Section 21159 outlines10 criteria that counties must meet in order to quality for a CEQA exemption for infill housing projects. The following changes are proposed to three of the current criteria to address limitations to a county’s ability to qualify for the CEQA exemption for infill housing: 1) Increase from five to 20 years, the life of a community level review; 2) Reduce the minimum density from 20 to 15 units per acre; and 3) Increase the maximum floor area ratio for retail in mixed-use projects from 15 percent to 35 percent.
  • A discussion on the implications of the November 2010 election, specifically how Proposition 26 affects the transportation tax swap. Pursuant to County Counsels’ concerns that Proposition 26 invalidates the new 17.3-cent gas tax or HUTA (Highway User tax Account) and the 1.75 percent rate increase in sales tax on diesel for transit adopted by the Legislature in March 2010 to replace the loss of the sales tax on gasoline, the Committee directed CSAC staff to pursue immediate legislative action to validate these taxes. Consistent with existing policy, CSAC supported the transportation tax swap and as such, staff will seek a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to avoid the loss of $2.5 billion generated annually by these replacement taxes.
  •  An update on the status of transportation finance and needs in the State. Bimla Rhinehart, Executive Director of the California Transportation Commission spoke about current efforts to develop a statewide transportation needs assessment that includes all modes including local streets and roads, the state highway system, transit, intercity rail, and air-, land-, and seaports. The massive undertaking will look at maintenance and operations needs as well as needs for system expansion. CSAC is well positioned to assist with this effort as the 2010 Update to the Statewide Local Streets and Roads Needs Assessment is just a few months away from completion.
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