CSAC Bulletin Article

Housing, Land Use and Transportation

Strategic Growth Council Awards Transit-Oriented Development Grants

On Tuesday morning the Strategic Growth Council approved $121.9 million in competitive grants through the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program, which is funded from cap and trade auction revenues. The grants were overwhelmingly were awarded to affordable housing projects near transit. These projects were required to include additional transportation improvements that aim to reduce vehicle miles travelled by residents. Twenty-six of the twenty-eight funded projects included housing, well above the required 50% set-aside for affordable housing projects. Two projects were focused solely on alternative transportation: a bus rapid transit project received funding in Chula Vista and a vanpool for farm laborers was funded in the San Joaquin Valley.

CSAC had advocated for funding to be focused on the physical infrastructure necessary to implement land use and transportation strategies required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We had also preferred that funding be directly allocated to regional agencies, which would pick among projects sponsored by local agencies. CSAC is still reviewing the results of the first funding round, which will be further discussed in a pair of workshops devoted to discussing “Lessons Learned” from the first round of grants from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. Time and location information for the workshops, which will also be webcast (see: www.sgc.ca.gov) is listed below.

Northern CA “Lessons Learned: Round One”
Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds Workshop:
July 14, 2015, 2pm-5pm
CalEPA Sierra Hearing Room, 2nd Floor
1001 I Street, Sacramento, CA 95812

Southern CA “Lessons Learned: Round One” 
Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds Workshop:
July 20, 2015, 9am-12pm
CalTrans District 7
100 S. Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Housing and Community Development

AB 325 (Wood) – Support 
As amended on July 1, 2015

Assembly Bill 325, by Assembly Member Jim Wood, would make changes to the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program application process for non-entitlement counties. Specifically, the bill would require that no later than 60 days after the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) notifies an applicant that their CDBG application has been approved, HCD must enter into a grant agreement with the applicant unless the federal government of the Legislature makes significant changes to the program. It would also require HCD, when it enters into a grant agreement with an applicant, to provide the applicant with a complete and final list of all of the activities the applicant must complete in order to receive a disbursement of funds pursuant to the agreement. Changes to the list would be allowed if the applicant changes the original application or the Legislature or federal government requires changes. Finally, within 30 days after the receipt of a request for the disbursement of funds from a grantee, HCD must either notify the grantee that HCD has approved disbursement of the funds, or provide the applicant with a complete and final list of all of the remaining activities the applicant must complete in order for HCD to approve disbursement of the funds.

CSAC supports this measure, which would improve transparency and accountability in the administration of the Community Development Block Grant program for California’s “non-entitlement” counties. AB 325 will be heard in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee on July 7.

Land Use and Planning

AB 514 (Williams) – Support
As amended on June 29, 2015

AB 514, by Assembly Member Das Williams, would provide that a city or county could impose fines for violators of land use codes that are proportional to the magnitude of the violation. Specifically, violations of a local building and safety ordinance, brush removal ordinance, grading ordinance, film permit ordinance, or zoning ordinance determined to be an infraction would be subject to graduated fines for each subsequent violation of the same ordinance within five years based on the severity of the threat to public safety. For violation of any ordinance for which permit fees were required, the fine would not exceed $5,000 or three times the permit fee for a first violation, $10,000 for a second violation, and $15,000 for a third violation within five years of the first violation. For violations where a permit fee would not have been required, the fines would be capped at $1,000, $2,500, and $5,000, respectively.

CSAC supports offering counties additional tools to ensure public safety, especially since the currently authorized maximum allowable fine amounts for these violations have proven insufficient to deter violators of land use enforcement codes in many counties.

AB 514 will be heard in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on July 8.

AB 1236 (Chiu) – Oppose
As amended on April 20, 2015

AB 1236, by Assembly Member David Chiu, would mandate all 58 counties and 482 cities adopt an ordinance to create a new expedited permitting and inspection process for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Specifically, this bill would require every city and county to adopt an ordinance by September 30, 2016 that creates an expedited and streamlined permitting process for EV charging stations that also includes a checklist of all requirements with which EV charging stations shall comply to be eligible for expedited review. Further, AB 1236 would require every city and county to approve the installation of EV charging stations unless the city or county makes written findings, based on substantial evidence in the record, that the proposed installation would have an adverse impact upon the public health or safety and that those impacts cannot be mitigated.

CSAC opposes this overly-broad and prescriptive measure, which would require the costly and time-consuming adoption of a local ordinance. We are concerned that the approach will not allow for consideration of unique local circumstances, nor applications that may be more complicated than the installation of a single charging station. For instance, a station with multiple charging outlets that qualifies as a public accommodation may have accessibility issues and implications related to parking standards or other local ordinances.

AB 1236 will be heard on July 7 in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.

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