CSAC Bulletin Article

Housing Land Use and Transportation
Transportation Special Session: CSAC Supporting Three Bills

Transportation Special Session Bills

SB X1 1 (Beall) – Support
As amended on July 14, 2015

SB X1 1, by Senator Jim Beall, would increase several taxes and fees to raise roughly $4.5 billion in new transportation revenues annually with the funding used to address deferred maintenance on the state highways and local streets and roads. CSAC supports SB X1 1 which would inject much-needed new revenues into the statewide transportation network to address maintenance backlogs on local streets and roads and state highways. Local governments have identified ten-year unmet needs of $79 billion on the local streets and roads system in addition to $59 billion in deferred maintenance on the state highway system. Moreover, research by CSAC and the League of California Cities shows that failure to invest additional funds toward local system maintenance now will only increase maintenance needs in the future. While SBX1 1 cannot by itself raise enough revenue to completely address these shortfalls, it will make an investment large enough to improve California’s local streets and roads and reduce future burdens on taxpayers. Ensuring that the vast majority of new funding is dedicated to “fix-it-first” projects that maintain and rehabilitate existing infrastructure will maximize improvements to California’s streets and roads and reduce future costs.

SB X1 1 is set for hearing on Wednesday, August 19 before the Senate Special Session Transportation and Infrastructure Development Committee.

SB X1 11 (Berryhill) – Support
As introduced on July 16, 2015

SB X1 11, by Senator Berryhill, would, until 2025, exempt a project or an activity to repair, maintain, or make minor alterations to an existing roadway from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Existing law has, since 2013, allowed local governments with populations fewer than 100,000 to take advantage of this narrowly-tailored CEQA exemption. This bill would still require a publicly-noticed hearing prior to determining that a project is qualifies for an exemption, allowing public participation in the process.

SB X1 11 balances the public’s interest in repairing unsafe or degraded roadways against the need to protect California’s natural and cultural resources. The bill contains numerous safeguards, which ensure that safety and road repair projects that could negatively impact natural and cultural resources will be ineligible for the exemption. Specifically, the bill would not apply to projects in sites that contain wetlands or riparian areas, nor in areas that have significant value as a wildlife habitat. Moreover, eligible projects could not harm any species protected by the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Native Plant Protection Act, or the California Endangered Species Act, nor could the project cause the destruction or removal of any species protected by a local ordinance, impact cultural resources, or affect scenic resources.

Given the bill’s extensive resource protections and the lack of a strong policy rationale for limiting the existing authority to jurisdictions with less than 100,000 residents, broadening the applicability of the existing exemption is well warranted. The need to improve safety, especially on our local streets and roads, as well as the potential need to quickly deliver multiple projects if new funding is approved for road repairs within our existing rights-of-way, lead CSAC to strongly support SB X1 11.

SB X1 11 is set for hearing on Wednesday, August 19 before the Senate Special Session Transportation and Infrastructure Development Committee.

SCA X1 1 (Huff) – Support in Concept
As introduced on July 16, 2015

SCA X1 1, by Senator Bob Huff, would constitutionally devote certain motor vehicle fees and taxes to transportation purposes. CSAC supports protecting any new revenues raised as part of this year’s special session on transportation infrastructure. However, we want to ensure that placing restrictions on vehicle license fees, which have traditionally funded a broad array of general local government services, does not result in any unintended consequences for counties or the constituents they serve. CSAC therefore, supports SCA X1 1 in concept, and looks forward to continued discussions on this important measure.

SCA X1 1 is set for hearing on Wednesday, August 19 before the Senate Special Session Transportation and Infrastructure Development Committee.

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