CSAC Bulletin Article

Housing, Land Use and Transportation update 1/10/2014

Land Use

UCLA Extension Land Use Conference

Once again, CSAC is supporting UCLA Extension’s Land Use Law and Planning Conference as a cooperating organization. The 28th annual conference will be held on Friday, January 31st at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Conference topics include CEQA, Takings, Demographics, Planning/Zoning/Development Law, as well as a keynote address from the last three planning directors for the City of San Diego.

Additional information on the conference is available at UCLA Extension’s website. 


Office of Planning and Research CEQA Guidelines Updates and LOS Replacement Metric

On December 30, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) released two documents related to CEQA. The first compiles comments OPR received on possible changes to the CEQA Guidelines during their Solicitation for Input last summer. Only changes that appeared to be consistent with CEQA statute were included. The second document discusses issues related to the use of Level of Service to analyze transportation impacts under CEQA and offers a preliminary evaluation of several replacement metrics, including vehicle miles traveled, multi-modal LOS, automobile trips generated, fuel use, and vehicle hours traveled. As counties recall, SB 743 (Steinberg, 2013) directed OPR to develop an alternative measure to LOS. A final draft of the CEQA Guidelines, including the new transportation impact metric, is due to the Natural Resources Agency by July 1, 2014. 

OPR has requested early stakeholder feedback on the two documents. Specifically, they want commenters to address whether the proposed CEQA Guidelines changes are appropriate, and whether there are any topics that were missed and should be addressed. They are also interested in specific recommended language to implement the proposed changes. For the LOS document OPR is interested in discussions of any transportation-related impacts in addition to greenhouse gas emissions, noise, and safety. They also want commenters to discuss the best models to measure transportation impacts, as well as the role parking should play in analyzing transportation impacts.

The CEQA Guidelines document is available here and the LOS document is available here. 

CSAC will review the documents and submit comments. We ask that counties provide us with any feedback by Monday, February 3. We also encourage counties to submit individual comments to OPR by their deadline of 5:00 PM on Friday, February 14.

SB 674 (Corbett) – Support
As Amended January 6, 2014

SB 674, by Senator Ellen Corbett, was amended this week to include language from a bill that CSAC supported last year (SB 359), but was ultimately used as a vehicle for something entirely unrelated. SB 674 bill would make a simple change to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) infill exemption. In 2002, SB 1925 (Sher) created a number of new provisions to encourage the development of affordable housing for agricultural workers, as well as infill projects in urbanized areas. Included in these provisions was the infill exemption for housing projects that meet certain size and location criteria, as well as relying on a specified level of previously adopted environmental review. The approved criteria also allowed for the inclusion of a limited amount of neighborhood-serving goods, services and retail uses up to 15% of the total floor area. This bill would simply increase the current maximum total floor area from 15% to 25% maximum of the total building square footage. Counties have been unable to use this tool in the past because the criteria are too stringent to be realistically implemented. This bill would help counties take advantage of this tool, making the exemption more feasible for smart growth projects. SB 674 will be heard on January 15, 2014 in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.


County Representative Testifies on Funding Needs

On Monday, December 16, Senator Jim Beall (D – San Jose), Chairman of the Senate Budget Subcommittee #2 on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy & Transportation, held an informational hearing of the Subcommittee in San Jose regarding the Condition of California’s Roads and Transportation Funding. Scott McGolpin, Public Works Director of Santa Barbara County and County Engineers Association of California President, testified on behalf of CSAC, CEAC and the League of California Cities (League).

California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly provided a general overview of the State’s transportation outlook and outlined the goals of the California Transportation Infrastructure Priorities (CTIP) workgroup, which is described below. 

Scott McGolpin testified on a panel focused on statewide transportation funding needs. In his testimony, Mr. McGolpin reiterated the findings of the most recent edition of the Local Streets and Roads Statewide Needs Assessment Project undertaken by CSAC and the League. As counties know, with a statewide average PCI of 66 (on scale of 0 [failed] to 100 [excellent]), local agencies in California currently face a $1.9 billion annual funding shortfall to simply maintain the status quo. Andre Boutros, Executive Director of the California Transportation Commission, discussed the 2011 Statewide Transportation Needs Assessment, as well as commented on local needs. Altogether, the panelists demonstrated a $300 billion gap in funding for transportation over the next decade, including a need of $107 billion over the next decade for streets, roads, and bridges alone.

Will Kempton, Executive Director of Transportation California, discussed a proposal by Transportation California in partnership with the California Alliance for Jobs to increase transportation funding through an initiative to increase the state’s vehicle license/registration fee. If placed on the ballot and approved, the initiative is estimated to raise nearly $3 billion dollars annually when fully implemented. Half of the funding would go to local governments, split evenly by cities and counties. The county portion would be allocated 75% based on registered vehicles per county and 25% based on county-maintained mileage.

Finally, other presenters focused on local needs in Santa Clara County, new options for revenue, the need to use existing transportation infrastructure more efficiently to reduce the need for system expansion, and the effect of SB 375 on transportation planning.

Senator Beall’s website includes a link to video footage of the hearing

California Transportation Infrastructure Priorities Workgroup 

Under the leadership of Secretary Brian Kelly, the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) convened the California Transportation Infrastructure Priorities Workgroup (CTIP) on December 18 to brief stakeholders on the results of the yearlong effort and the work-in-progress draft recommendations for Governor Brown’s consideration. Recall that in the January 2013 State Budget, the Governor directed CalSTA to assemble recommendations that achieve the following:

  • refine the Statewide Transportation Needs Assessment;
  • explore long-term, pay-as-you-go funding options; and 
  • evaluate the most appropriate level of government to delivery high-priority investments to meet the State’s infrastructure needs

Noting that California has entered into a period of greater expectations for the state’s transportation network, Secretary Kelly outlined a new vision for transportation, which includes the following:

  • the provision of safe and efficient mobility through a multi-modal system;
  • the availability of fast, clean and efficient alternatives to vehicular traffic, contributing to the state’s sustainability goals; and 
  • the integration and modernization of various modes into one seamless transportation system.

In order to deliver this new vision, the state and transportation stakeholders must meet three simultaneous core objectives including mobility, safety, and sustainability. The Secretary also outlined five categories of recommendations as well as the anticipated timing for implementation (includes both short and long-term recommendations). Categories include preservation, innovation, integration, reform, and funding. 

As noted in yesterday’s CSAC Budget Action Bulletin, the Governor’s 2014-15 budget tiers off the CTIP stakeholder discussions and identifies the Administration’s three main short-term priorities for the next fiscal year, specifically:

  • Maintaining the State’s existing transportation infrastructure,
  • Modernizing rail services, and
  • Supporting local governments as they implement SB 375.

In support of those priorities, the Governor proposes investing Cap and Trade proceeds for high-speed rail and rail integration and local implementation of sustainable communities projects. The Governor also proposes continued appropriation of Proposition 1B bonds funds, although bond funds for local streets and roads agencies have already been appropriated, and the early repayment of $351 million in previous transportation loans to the General Fund, including $100 million in repayments to cities and counties.

Longer term recommendations potentially include reduced voter thresholds for locally enacted taxes and bonds for special purposes, assessment of a potential mileage based user fee, pricing of transportation assets, and addressing freight and goods movement needs. 

In closing, the Secretary noted that while we made good progress in 2013, there is much work still to be done and will continue to convene the CTIP Workgroup into 2014. CSAC looks forward to continued participation to develop the potential short and long-term recommendations and to ensure the local street and road system continues to provide a critical piece of the unified seamless transportation system.

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