CSAC Bulletin Article

Housing, Land Use and Transportation update 10/3/2014

Strategic Growth Council Releases Draft Guidelines for Cap and Trade Affordable Housing & Sustainable Communities Program

The Strategic Growth Council (SGC) released its Draft Guidelines for the Implementation of the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program on September 23. Funded by cap and trade auction revenues, there is $130 million available in FY 2014-15 for counties, cities, and transit agencies for projects that implement land use, housing, and transportation practices that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by supporting infill and compact development. The development of these guidelines is critical as the AHSC program will receive 20% of all cap and trade auction revenues going forward.

CSAC staff is currently seeking county feedback on the draft and will submit comments to the SGC by October 31. Please email CSAC staff Kiana Buss and Chris Lee with your county’s analysis, comments and recommendations by October 24.

The SGC is also hosting a series of workshops to receive public comment on the draft guidelines. We encourage counties to attend a workshop to provide input directly to the SGC staff and members.

Office of Planning and Research Extends Deadline to Comment on Analysis of Transportation Impacts

SB 743 (Chapter No. 386, Statutes of 2013) requires the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to update the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines to establish an alternative to level of service (LOS) criteria for the analysis of transportation impacts of projects within TPAs, or transit priority areas. The measure additionally allows OPR to establish alternative metrics to LOS outside of TPAs, but does not mandate the use of alternatives outside of TPAs.

OPR released its Preliminary Discussion Draft in early August and is recommending that by January 1, 2016, all jurisdictions use an LOS alternative in all areas of the state, not just in TPAs. CSAC has serious concerns about this approach and is working with counties and other stakeholders to better understand the specific impacts to lead agencies and to prepare comments and an alternative recommendation to such a quick statewide application of the new metric.

OPR recently extended its comment period to November 21. Again, please email CSAC staff Kiana Buss and Chris Lee with your feedback on the draft recommendations.

CSAC Weighs In: Federal Tribal Acknowledgement Process Should Retain Strong Role for Counties

CSAC recently submitted comments in response to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) proposed rule regarding the federal acknowledgment of American Indian tribes. The stated purposes of the proposed rule are to make the system for federal acknowledgment more transparent, promote consistency in decision making, and increase the timeliness and efficiency, all while maintaining the integrity of the process.

CSAC’s analysis of the proposed rule indicates that if adopted, the new regulations would significantly diminish the ability of counties and other interested parties to participate in the federal acknowledgment process. While the BIA’s goals are laudable, as the current process can be very lengthy, burdensome, and costly, CSAC urged the BIA to retain many existing policies so that the proposed changes would not eliminate the integrity of the decision-making process.

CSAC’s comments can be found on the CSAC website. CSAC staff wants to especially thank the County Counsels Association of California for their assistance in the analysis of the proposed rule.


AB 1537 (Levine) – Support
Chapter No. 875, Statutes of 2014

AB 1537, by Assembly Member Marc Levine, creates a pilot project allowing Marin County and certain cities within the County, to move to a suburban default density to demonstrate that they have zoned an adequate amount of land to accommodate their respective shares of lower-income housing under the Regional Housing Needs Allocation Process. The pilot will last through 2023 and requires the jurisdictions to report to the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Legislature regarding the development of affordable housing under the suburban default density.

The Governor signed AB 1537 on September 30.

AB 1690 (Gordon) – Support 
Chapter No. 883, Statutes of 2014

AB 1690, by Assembly Member Rich Gordon, allows local governments that are subject to a rezoning program under housing element law to accommodate their very low- and low-income housing needs on sites designated for mixed uses if those sites allow 100% residential use; and requires that residential use occupy 50% of the total floor area of a mixed-use project. CSAC supported the bill and requested the Governor’s signature because it provides counties the opportunity to use the rezoning program process to complement other smart growth policies.

The Governor signed AB 1690 on September 30.

SB 1439 (Leno) – Support
Failed Passage

SB 1439, by Senator Mark Leno, would have allowed the City and County of San Francisco to enact through ordinance or ballot measure prohibitions on a rental housing owner’s ability to remove a building from the rental market under the Ellis Act unless all owners of the property have held their ownership interest for at least five years. The bill was amended so that its restrictions would no longer apply to a natural person who owns no more than two properties and no more than a total of four residential units. CSAC supported this measure as it would have given the County an additional tool to ensure the continued availability of affordable rental housing at all income levels.

Public Works Administration

AB 2471 (Frazier) – Oppose
Failed Passage

AB 2471, by Assembly Member Jim Frazier, would have imposed arbitrary and burdensome timelines on the negotiation of a change order for a public works project. CSAC opposed this bill because it would expose counties to liability and prejudgment interest if its timeframe for negotiating a change order and making payments due pursuant the bill’s provisions are not met. The author was unable to resolve conflicts between the intent of the bill and concerns raised by CSAC and others. Accordingly, the bill did not move in 2014. CSAC is committed to working with the author on future legislation to provide for the prompt payment of undisputed portions of a project instead of constraining the change order process.

SB 785 (Wolk) – Support 
Chapter No. 931, Statutes of 2014

SB 785, by Senator Lois Wolk, recasts existing design-build statutes for purposes of eliminating inconsistencies and consolidating present statutory authority as well as extends the sunset date on existing design-build authority and reduces the project cost threshold to projects that exceed $1 million.

While counties had concerns about the bill’s requirement related to the use of a skilled and trained workforce, CSAC found that the benefits of the continued use of design-build with a reduced project threshold outweighed our concerns. Specifically, these provisions require design-build entities to commit to the local agency that the entity and its subcontractors will use skilled and trained workforce to perform work on the contract in order to be prequalified or shortlisted.

The Governor signed SB 785 on September 30.

SB 792 (Padilla) – Oppose 
Vetoed by the Governor

SB 792, by Senator Alex Padilla, would have directed the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), in consultation with the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), to adopt regulations for corrosion prevention work on public infrastructure projects. These regulations would have required use of certified personnel for application of protective coatings and linings on steel and concrete which would prevent early deterioration due to corrosion and related environmental contamination. The bill would have mandated that these regulations be a part of public contracts receiving state funds by January 1, 2017.

Governor Brown vetoed SB 792 on September 30 and instead directed the Department of Industrial Relations to incorporate industry accepted standards for corrosion prevention training into relevant apprenticeship programs. The Governor also directing the Department to work with the Standards Board to assess the adequacy of safety standards for workers engaged in corrosion prevention work and make necessary changes.


AB 1193 (Ting) – No Position
Chapter No. 495, Statutes of 2014

AB 1193, by Assembly Member Phil Ting, creates a new class of bikeway and offers new flexibility to local governments in adopting design standards for local bikeway facilities. The bill defines class IV bikeways, commonly known as cycle tracks or separated bikeways, as facilities which promote active transportation and provide a right-of-way designated exclusively for bicycle travel adjacent to a roadway and which are protected from vehicular traffic. The bill also requires the development of minimum safety criteria for each class of bikeway by January 2016, and allows local governments to continue to use Caltrans bike facility standards to help protect against litigation, or to adopt other standards that may be more appropriate for their individual communities.

CSAC did not take a position on this measure because of its permissive approach to local bicycle facility standards. The Governor signed AB 1193 on September 20.

AB 1720 (Bloom) – Support
Chapter No. 263, Statutes of 2014

AB 1720, by Assembly Member Richard Bloom, extends by one year the exemption in current law that allows transit buses to operate over state weight limits, until January 1, 2016. Further, transit agencies can continue to procure overweight transit buses under specified circumstances until January 1, 2016. This bill was a negotiated solution with the California Transit Association, CSAC and other transportation stakeholders. The extension is necessary to allow the completion of a national study of issues surrounding overweight transit buses, the findings of which will be critical in the development of a permanent and cost-effective solution to this issue.

The Governor signed AB 1720 on August 22.

AB 2054 (Olsen) – Concerns 
Failed Passage

AB 2054, by Assembly Member Kristin Olsen, would have allowed the use of an “electrically motorized skateboard” in a bicycle lane, bikeway, or bicycle path or trail provided that the skateboard had a motor with a power output of no more than 1,000 watts, a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour at ground level, and was incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power or gravity is used to propel the skateboard faster than 20 miles per hour. Furthermore, the skateboard must have had variable throttle control and independent braking control. The bill, however, would have allowed counties to adopt rules and regulations by ordinance or resolution prohibiting or restricting persons from propelling an electrically motorized skateboard in a bicycle lane or on a bikeway or bicycle path or trail.

CSAC expressed concerns with the “opt out” approach of the bill, since it assumed that facilities that were not designed with this mode of transportation in mind would be able to accommodate it.

AB 2173 (Bradford) – Concerns
Chapter No. 60, Statutes of 2014

AB 2173, by Assembly Member Steven Bradford, creates a new class of motorized bicycle, a “low-speed electric bicycle,” and allows the use of these electric bicycles on bicycle paths or trails, bikeways, bicycle lanes, equestrian trails, or hiking or recreational trails. CSAC was concerned with the bill’s presumption that class-I bikeways and other off-road trails are appropriate for the use of electric bicycles. While certain facilities may be able to accommodate these vehicles, the bill’s “opt-out” approach was overbroad, especially given the potential liability issues that could arise. In light of concerns from CSAC and others, this bill was amended so that it simply tweaked the definition of a motorized bicycle or moped in the Vehicle Code.

The Governor signed AB 2173 on June 25.

AB 2197 (Mullin) – Support
Failed Passage

AB 2197, by Assembly Member Kevin Mullin, would have authorized the Department of Motor Vehicles to contract with a private industry partner to develop a temporary license plate program in California. It would have also required vehicles sold or leased without a permanent license plate to be affixed with a temporary license plate. CSAC supported AB 2197, as it would have made toll evasion, which results in millions of dollars in foregone transportation revenues each year, more difficult. The bill would have also promoted public safety by helping law enforcement identify vehicles involved in hit-and-runs and other criminal activity.

AB 2355 (Levine) – Watch
Chapter No. 609, Statutes of 2014

AB 2355, by Assembly Member Marc Levine, requires local agencies to adopt standards at least as accepting of the use of recycled road materials as Caltran’s standards, including recycled paving materials, and recycled base, subbase, and pervious backfill materials. If counties chose not to adopt such standards, the bill requires them to discuss the reasons for not doing so at a public hearing. CSAC did not take a position on this measure, as many counties reported that they would easily be able to meet the standards for recycled materials, while others would be able to opt out of adopting the standards at their discretion.

AB 2355 was signed by the Governor on September 26.

AB 2752 (Committee on Transportation) – Support
Chapter No. 345, Statutes of 2014

AB 2752, by the Assembly Committee on Transportation, was the transportation omnibus bill for 2014. CSAC worked with the proponents of AB 720 (Hall, 2011), which imposed a cap on the amount of force account work specified counties could perform under road commissioner authority, to make adjustments to ease implementation by counties. Specifically, the amendments clarify that counties should calculate eligible force account work on a fiscal year basis, and should use the Controller’s Annual Streets and Roads Report as of March 1 each year to determine the cap for the following year. The measure also specifies the ways in which counties can comply with the AB 720 requirement to “declare work” and clarifies that force account work to facilitate private contracts does not count towards the cap.

The Governor signed AB 2752 on September 15.

SB 990 (Vidak) – Oppose
Failed Passage

SB 990, by Senator Andy Vidak, would have required certain county transportation commissions and regional transportation planning agencies to program 5% of Regional Transportation Improvement Program funds to disadvantaged small communities. For purposes of this measure, a disadvantaged small community would have been defined as a city or census-designated place that has a population of 25,000 or fewer people and that has a median household income less than 80 percent of the statewide average.

CSAC opposed to this measure because it would have unnecessarily limited the discretion of county transportation commissions and regional transportation planning agencies in allocating scarce transportation funds. Moreover, the arbitrary 5% standard could have required investments well above a small community’s share of the population in a larger county or region. The additional standard could have also made it difficult for transportation planning agencies to meet MAP-21 performance standards currently being developed by the federal government.

SB 1048 (Roth) – Concerns
Failed Passage

SB 1048, by Senator Richard Roth, would have exempted up to 1,000 pounds of additional weight added to a ready mix concrete truck in order to comply with State Air Resources Board (ARB) regulations from the total gross weight limits specified by current law. This legislation unfortunately did not take into account the purpose of current vehicle weight limits and could have proven difficult to enforce.

CSAC expressed concerns with this measure. Counties recognize that regulations requiring new technology and equipment on cement trucks can be challenging for truck operators to implement. While this bill sought to make an exemption for one type of heavy vehicle, it needed to be considered in the context of other potential weight limit changes that could affect the condition of local streets and roads. A federal study of the impacts of increasing truck weight limits is currently underway, and transit agencies in California are studying issues surrounding overweight transit buses.

SB 1077 (DeSaulnier) – Watch
Chapter No. 835, Statutes of 2014

SB 1077, by Senator Mark DeSaulnier, requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to develop and implement, by July 1, 2017, a pilot program designed to assess specified issues related to implementing a vehicle-miles-traveled fee in California. The bill would also require the department to prepare and submit a specified report of its findings to the policy and fiscal committees of the Legislature no later than June 30, 2018. The bill also requires a fifteen-member technical advisory committee with representatives from the telecommunications industry, highway user groups, the data security and privacy industry, privacy rights advocacy organizations, regional transportation agencies, national research and policymaking bodies.

CSAC followed this measure closely, although we do not have policy in support of raising revenue for transportation infrastructure purposes through a new mileage-based user fee. CSAC will hold a workshop on vehicle-miles-travelled fees at the Annual Meeting in November to discuss the policy implications to counties of this potential replacement for the gas tax.

The Governor signed SB 1077 on September 29.

SB 1151 (Cannella) – Support
Vetoed by the Governor

SB 1151, by Senator Anthony Cannella, would have imposed an additional thirty-five dollar fine on specified violations within zones posted with school warning signs and signs indicating increased fines. The additional fine revenue from these violations would have been allocated to the Active Transportation Program for the purpose of school zone safety projects. Counties, along with cities and public schools and districts, would have been eligible recipients of Active Transportation Program grant funds to improve safety around schools and promote alternative transportation options.

The Governor vetoed SB 1151 on September 19. In his message, the Governor argued that “increasing traffic fines as the method to pay transportation fund activities is a regressive increase that affects poor people disproportionately” and that other means should be used to improve school zone safety.

SB 1183 (DeSaulnier) – Support 
Chapter No. 516, Statutes of 2014

SB 1183, by Senator Mark DeSaulnier, allows until 2025 a city, county, or regional parks district to propose to the voters the imposition of a surcharge of up to five dollars on each vehicle registration to fund the construction or maintenance of paved or natural surface bikeways or trails, as well as bicycle parking infrastructure. The bill provides a new tool to fund off-road bike paths, which currently lack a stable funding source.

CSAC supported the bill since it will provide a potential funding source for several types of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure that are vital to creating a complete multi-modal network, but which occasionally have proven difficult to fund and maintain using existing revenue sources.

The Governor signed SB 1183 on September 20.

Land Use

AB 52 (Gatto) – Neutral 
Chapter No. 532, Statutes of 2014

AB 52, by Assembly Member Mike Gatto, creates a new resource area under CEQA for tribal cultural resources and establishes a process for consultation between local governments and tribes on individual projects. CSAC initially opposed the bill and worked with a coalition of stakeholders over the past two years to successfully amend the measure to reduce our most significant concerns. Amendments taken include the addition of timelines for consultations, a requirement for tribes to dictates a single point of contact, and creation of more clear and limited definition of tribal cultural resource that does not put the burden on a local agency to determine what may or may not be significant to a tribe. Finally, the bill was amended to allow the confidential exchange of information between a tribe, project proponent and local government.

CSAC removed our opposition to the bill on August 25. The Governor signed AB 52 on September 25. CSAC will now shift to monitoring implementation of the measure, including revisions to the CEQA guidelines, and working to develop implementation guidance for counties.

AB 1147 (Bonilla) – Support
Chapter No. 406, Statutes of 2014

AB 1147, by Assembly Members Susan Bonilla, Jimmy Gomez, and Chris Holden, will recast the California Massage Therapy Council and restore the ability of local governments to regulate massage therapy businesses in local communities. Specifically, the measure changes the composition of the Council’s board to include, in addition to existing representatives from CSAC and the League of Cities, a representative of the California Police Chiefs Association, a representative of an “anti-human trafficking” organization, and a local or state public health official, among others. Importantly to counties, the bill would restore local land use authority to regulate massage businesses and provides that cities and counties can adopt and enforce local ordinances governing zoning, business licensing, or reasonable health and safety requirements for massage establishments.

CSAC supported this measure because it will restore tools local governments can use to address an increasingly problematic local land use and public safety issue. CSAC appreciates the hard work and leadership of the League of California Cities, the City and County of San Francisco and the County of Sacramento in securing the passage and signature of this important bill.

Governor Brown signed AB 1147 on September 18.

AB 2181 (Bloom) – Watch 
Failed Passage

AB 2181, by Assembly Member Richard Bloom, would have authorized each city, city and county, or county to require that owners assess the earthquake hazard of soft story and older concrete buildings, and would include concrete residential buildings that were constructed prior to the adoption of local building codes that ensure ductility, as specified, as potentially hazardous if an earthquake occurs. It would have also allowed local governments to employ seismic evaluation of older concrete residential buildings to address individual seismically hazardous buildings without regard to how the buildings came to the attention of local officials. Finally, the bill would have required the seismic retrofit of a concrete residential building identified as potentially hazardous to comply with a nationally recognized model code relating to the retrofit of existing buildings.

CSAC circulated this measure for comments, but the bill was never heard in the Assembly Local Government Committee.

SB 944 (Torres) – Neutral
Chapter No. 515, Statutes of 2014

SB 944, by Senator Norma Torres, would have impose an unprecedented interference with local land use authority by preventing local governments from pre-zoning, re-zoning or zoning surplus state property located within the local jurisdiction unless a change in zoning is requested or approved by the Department of General Services. CSAC opposed this bill because it would have given unelected state officials veto power over the land use decisions made by duly-elected local representatives. CSAC and its local government partners secured amendments to the bill that limited it to a single state-owned property in the City of Pomona and subsequently removed our opposition.

The Governor signed SB 944 on September 20.

SB 1155 (Lieu) – Concerns
Failed Passage

SB 1155, by Senator Ted Lieu, would have required counties and cities, prior to approving a project within a delineated earthquake fault zone, where mapping to identify seismic hazard zones has not been completed, to determine that either the project has a minimum setback of 75 feet from any mapped active trace fault or the project is not located on an active trace fault as determined by a geological site investigation. The bill assumed that cities and counties would pass the costs of compliance on to project applicants through fees. Stakeholders from local governments and the building industry expressed concerns with the approach of the bill and the uncertainty it could create by broadening the types of maps local agencies must consult in approving a project.

Due to concerns from CSAC and others, the bill was held on the Senate floor. Ultimately, the Administration proposed, and the Legislature appropriated, additional funding for the State Geologist to complete fault maps. The budget included $1.49 million for fault mapping in 2014-15 and $1.3 million in annual funding in future years, which are funded through building fees.

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