Urgency legislation extending the life of all subdivision maps by one year has been signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger. The California Building Industry Association (CBIA) praised the governor for signing SB 1185 (Lowenthal). The real estate slowdown has prevented developers from following through with approved projects, and the legislation ensures developers and landowners do not have to go through the entitlement process a second time.

"This bill gives homebuilders the ability to respond when the housing market improves," said Ray Becker, CBIA president.

Schwarzenegger appears likely to sign a second housing recovery measure touted by the industry, AB 2604 (Torrico). That legislation would encourage local governments to defer collection of impact fees (except school fees) until the close of escrow on a new house, rather than collect fees when issuing a building permit. Builders say the measure would help cash flow.

Meanwhile, lawmakers continue to negotiate over two bills with potentially significant implications for planning. Senate Bill 375 (Steinberg) attempts to tie together regional planning, infrastructure funding and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Although builders and local governments still have reservations about the bill, a year's worth of negotiation on SB 375 may come to a head this month.  

Builders have responded by resurrecting SB 303 (Ducheny), last year's major housing element bill that went nowhere. After a re-write, SB 303 now would require transportation agencies serving populations of at least 200,000 people to develop different regional planning scenarios for implementing the state's greenhouse gas reduction law. The California Air Resources Board would review and could modify the scenarios. The bill still contains some housing element provisions, including a mandate that plans be updated either every eight or ten years and reflect the most recent regional transportation plan.

A less sweeping bill is AB 842 (Jones), which would make future infill and transit-oriented development grants dependent on a regional or general plan that reduces vehicle miles traveled by 10%.

The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on August 31.