CSAC Bulletin Article

Housing, Land Use and Transportation End-of-Session Bill Roundup

September 16, 2021

Both chambers of the Legislature adjourned before 9 p.m. last Friday night, bringing an end to the 2021 session. Following is an update on major bills of interest or concern for the Housing, Land Use and Transporation policy area that are now among the 800+ bills awaiting action by Governor Gavin Newsom. CSAC staff will continue to monitor and advocate for County priorities during the signing period, which ends October 10, 2021.

Requesting Veto

AB 215 (Chiu) – Housing Element Violations

AB 215 would increase the enforcement authority of the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) in relation to violations of state housing law and would require cities and counties to make any draft revisions to their housing elements available for public comment for at least 30 days.

CSAC has significant concerns with the provisions of the bill that create a new, three-year statute of limitations for any action brought pursuant to the enforcement process created under AB 72 and the provision authorizing HCD to appoint or contract with outside counsel to represent the department when the Attorney General declines to represent HCD in an AB 72 enforcement process. We also have concerns with the new timeframes for housing element adoption.

CSAC’s letter to the Governor requesting his veto on this bill is available here.

AB 838 (Friedman) – State Housing Law: Enforcement Response to Complaints

AB 838 would make several changes to local building code enforcement processes and procedures. This bill would create significant issues for counties seeking to recover appropriate costs for building, zoning, and safety inspections. CSAC, along with our local government partners, offered the author and sponsors amendments that would remove our opposition to the bill, but that language was rejected.  

This bill was approved by both houses of the Legislature and CSAC will be requesting a veto.

AB 1124 (Friedman) – Solar Energy Systems

AB 1124 would revise the definition of “solar energy system” as that term is used for the purpose of local permitting of such systems, including the allowable fees a local agency may charge and would clarify the permit fees local agencies may charge for commercial solar energy systems.

CSAC is concerned with the expansion of the definition of “solar energy system” in a way that allows for large-scale solar systems without appropriate environmental review.

The letter CSAC submitted jointly with RCRC and UCC requesting that the Governor veto the bill is available here.

SB 477 (Wiener) – General Plan Annual Report

SB 477 would significantly increase reporting burdens under county and city Housing Element Annual Progress Reports (APR).

CSAC has significant concerns with the burdensome reporting requirements the bill would add while a data strategy effort is currently underway at the Department of Housing and Community Development. We are also concerned with the precedent of reporting on CEQA-related issues to the Department of Housing and Community Development, as these issues have traditionally been under the purview of the Office of Planning and Research and the Natural Resources Agency.

This bill was approved by both houses of the Legislature and CSAC will be requesting a veto.


Requesting Signature

AB 43 (Friedman) – Traffic Safety

AB 43 would grant the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and local authorities greater flexibility in setting speed limits based on recommendations included in the January 2020 report prepared by the California State Transportation Agency’s Zero Traffic Fatalities Task Force.

CSAC supports efforts to reduce traffic-related fatalities and injuries by promoting vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle safety, and AB 43 would allow local agencies to set speed limits based on safety-related factors and lead to a reduction in traffic-related injuries and fatalities.

CSAC’s letter to the Governor requesting his signature on this measure is available here.

AB 1423 (Daly) – Multifamily Housing Programs

AB 1423 would, pursuant to guidelines developed by the Housing and Community Development Department (HCD), allow developers to receive grant funding during the construction period thereby saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in construction period interest expenses. This bill will aid in the development of much-needed housing by significantly reducing construction period interest expenses and the overall cost of development. There would still be a private construction loan, albeit significantly smaller, and the private construction lender would continue to monitor construction progress and approve draws.

CSAC’s letter to the Governor requesting his signature on this measure is available here.


Other Bills of Interest

AB 602 (Grayson) – Impact Fee Nexus Study

AB 602 would require HCD to create an impact fee nexus study template for use by local jurisdictions by January 1, 2024. Among other changes, the bill would also impose new requirements on local agencies regarding the preparation of impact fee nexus studies.

The bill would make significant changes to laws governing local development impact fee programs and create new state and local costs. Specifically, we have concerns with the provision requiring HCD to develop a nexus fee template and a new requirement related to capital improvement planning for counties with populations of at least 250,000.

This bill was approved by both houses of the Legislature and is moving to the Governor’s desk. 

AB 970 (McCarty) - Streamlined Permitting for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

AB 970 would establish specific time frames in which local agencies must approve permits for electric vehicle charging stations.

CSAC was part of a coalition that opposed this measure. We are concerned with the provisions requiring electric vehicle charging stations to be deemed complete within five business days after an application is submitted and approved within 20 business days after submission of the application if the jurisdiction has not issued a permit and if the building official has not made findings that the proposed installation could have adverse impacts.

This bill was approved by both houses of the Legislature and is moving to the Governor’s desk. 

AB 989 (Gabriel) – Office of Housing Appeals

AB 989 would create a costly and time-consuming appeals process with a new Office of Housing Appeals and authorize a developer to appeal a local agency’s decision that resulted in the denial of a specified housing development project or subjected the project to conditions in violation of the Housing Accountability Act.

CSAC held an “oppose” position on this measure. CSAC and other local government groups have successfully negotiated significant changes to the Housing Accountability Act (HAA) in recent years, including significant fines for local governments that deny housing projects in bad faith. Rather than relying on the HAA and other laws ensuring that local agencies comply with state housing law, AB 989 would create a new bureaucracy within state government and an administrative appeals process that would prove costly for local agencies and project proponents.

AB 989 was moved to the inactive file in the Senate and is now a two-year bill.

AB 1035 (Salas) – Recycled Materials Standards

AB 1035 would require local agencies to apply standard specifications that allow for the use of recycled materials at or above the level allowed in the California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) most recently published standard specifications in streets and highways when feasible and cost-effective.

CSAC worked closely with the author’s office to narrow the scope of the bill. The final amendments resolved our final outstanding issue by basing the bill on the current Caltrans specifications rather than also applying to any future specifications.

The bill was approved by both houses of the Legislature and is moving to the Governor’s desk. 

SB 712 (Hueso) – Local  government: California Tribes: Federal Fee-to-Trust Applications

SB 712 would impose requirements on local governments regarding comments on fee-to-trust applications by California federally recognized tribes. CSAC held an “oppose unless amended” position on this measure.

This bill was approved by both houses of the Legislature and is moving to the Governor’s desk. 

SCA 2 (Allen and Wiener) – Public Housing Projects

SCA 2 would repeal Article XXXIV of the California Constitution upon approval of the statewide electorate. Article XXXIV requires a vote of the electorate when a local government seeks to build or fund affordable housing and was designed to impede the construction of healthy and affordable homes for Californians at all income levels.

CSAC holds a “support” position on this measure. Repealing Article XXXIV would not only remove this discriminatory provision from the Constitution. It would also eliminate a stumbling block that has frustrated efforts by counties to provide homes for lower-income residents and people experiencing serious mental illness who are homeless.

SCA 2 was moved to the inactive file in the Senate and is now a two-year bill.

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