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Legislation Roundup 2010: Budget Crisis Overshadows Land Use Laws

For all of the Legislature's fretting this year, the consensus in Sacramento is that among the state's overwhelming crises, land use ranked as a low priority this past legislative session. The legislative session that ended Aug. 30 included relatively few land use bills and, of those, they were of relatively minor import.

"It was not a big year for planning and development legislation, for any number of reasons," said Peter Detwiler, staff director of the Senate Local Government Committee. "Probably the $19 billion reason is the hole in the state budget." Peter Parkinson, vice president for policy at the California chapter of the American Planning Association said that this session's quietude may reflect "how dysfunctional things are in Sacramento or how preoccupied the Legislature is with budget issues."

A handful of bills did, however, make it to Governor Schwarzenegger's desk. The following is a summary of land use-related bills that were signed, plus a few notable vetoes and non-starters. 

LAND USE PLANNING

SB 326 (Strickland).  Would require cities and counties to include within the housing needs assessment portion of their housing elements a quantification of their existing  and projected foreclosure rates and an analysis of the impact of foreclosures on housing needs.  Stalled on Senate floor.

AB 602 (Feuer/Steinberg). Would have increased the statute of limitations for bringing suit to fix deficient housing elements from the current 90 days to five years. Schwarzenegger's veto effectively prioritized protecting local governments from "uncertainty" over reducing the uncertainty and reducing the lack of stability millions of families face when they're experiencing homelessness or unable to find affordable rents that fit within their budgets.  Vetoed.

SB 812 (Ashburn).  Requires local housing plans to include an analysis of the specific housing needs of people with developmental disabilities. Approved.

AB 987 (Ma). Doubles the current designation of a transit village development district to one-half mile from one-quarter mile, based on emerging research that suggests that transit-riders are willing to habitually walk up to one-half mile in order to reach a high-frequency transit stop such as light rail or subway.  Approved.

SB 1019 (Correa).  Extends the sunset date on the procedures for cities and counties to release subdivision performance securities to January 1, 2016.  Approved.

SB 1042 (Walters).  Repeals the 1917 law that allows counties to condemn private property for military bases.   Approved.

SB 1141 (McLeod).  Would have allowed a city in which an airport is located to assume the planning responsibilities of an airport land use commission if, prior to January 1, 2011, the board of supervisors of a county and city council of any city in which an airport was located made a determination that the proper land use planning could be accomplished by the city and other requirements are met.  Vetoed.

 SB 1189 (Correa).  Would have required the Southern California Association of Governments, or a delegate subregion as applicable, to follow an alternate specified process for distributing the existing and projected regional housing need to cities and counties.  Died in Senate committee.

AB 1965 (Yamada).  Extends the sunset date on the procedures for lot line adjustments on Williamson Act land to January 1, 2013.  Approved.

SB 1207 (Kehoe).  Would have expanded the fire safety planning requirements in local general plans' safety elements.  Vetoed.

AB 2425 (Hagman).  Would have exempted the City of La Habra Heights from receiving an allocation of the regional housing need during its next housing element planning period.  Died in Assembly committee.

AB 2530 (Nielsen).  Allows counties to shorten Williamson Act contracts, revalue the contracted land, and receive the increased revenues.  Approved.

AB 2650 (Buchanan).  Prohibits medical marijuana establishments within 600 feet of schools statewide. Approved.

HOUSING

AB 183 (Caballero). Extends the state's tax credit for homebuyers by another $200 million. Approved.

SB 500 (Steinberg).  Would have allowed the state to raise annual revenues for the state's housing trust fund. Died in Senate committee.

SB 662 (Yee).  Would have allowed counties to increase marriage license fees to fund domestic violence shelters. Vetoed.

SB 1174 (Wolk).  Would use previously authorized bond funds to create a pilot project to assist counties and cities in identifying and starting to addressing the lack of infrastructure and services provided to disadvantaged unincorporated communities within their areas. Stalled in Assembly committee.

SB 1445 (DeSaulnier).  Would allow a fee increase of up to $4 annually on vehicle registration, subject to approval by voters, to fund to regional planning activities by councils of governments, metropolitan planning organizations and other specified local planning entities.  Stalled in Assembly committee.

AB 1867 (Harkey).  Allows a city or county to count against its housing need the conversion of existing homeownership units in complexes of three or more units to affordable rental housing. Approved.

AB 2293 (Torres).  Would have assisted stalled Prop. 1C housing and infrastructure projects.  Vetoed.

AB 2536 (Carter).  Would have allowed the state's emergency and transitional housing program to fund supportive-home developments.  Vetoed.

AB 2579 (Evans).  Would establish an Infrastructure Financing and Development Commission charged with developing and recommending a plan to the governor and Legislature that provides for financing, building, and maintaining the infrastructure necessary to meet the needs of Californians up until 2050.  Stalled in Assembly committee. 

OFFICE OF PLANNING AND RESEARCH 

SB 959 (Ducheny).  Would have reestablished the Office of Planning and Research's permit assistance duties.  Vetoed.

AB 2754 (J. Perez).  Would have granted civil service status to the Office of Planning and Research's clearinghouse and planning staff, and designates OPR as the state's military liaison.  Vetoed.

 REDEVELOPMENT

AB 1641 (Hall).  Clarifies that public housing may be included within redevelopment project areas.  Approved.

AB 1791 (Monning).  Would have allowed redevelopment agencies to subsidize commercial development on vacant land at the former Fort Ord.  Vetoed.

AB 2531 (Fuentes).  Would have allowed redevelopment agencies to pay for business development and job programs until January 1, 2018.  Vetoed.

LAFCOS & BOUNDARY CHANGES

AB 419 (Caballero).  Will mesh state election laws with the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Act.  Approved.

AB 711 (Calderon).  Will appropriate $45,000 as a loan to the East Los Angeles Residents Association to pay for the proposed city incorporation proceedings.  Approved.

AB 853 (Arambula).  Would have expanded planning for, and expedited city annexations of, disadvantaged communities.  Vetoed.

SB 1023 (Wiggins).  Will create expedited procedures to convert Resort Improvement Districts and Municipal Improvement Districts into Community Services Districts.  Approved.

 CONSERVATION/ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION/CEQA 

SB 51 (Ducheny).  Establishes the Salton Sea Restoration Council as a state entity within the Natural Resources Agency to implement preferred alternatives outlined in the Salton Sea Ecosystem Restoration Program.  Approved.

AB 301 (Fuentes).  Would have required businesses licensed to bottle or sell water for human use from private water sources to report annually the total volume of water bottled or distributed, the source of the water, whether the source is privately or publicly owned, and the county of that source.  Vetoed.

SB 346 (Kehoe).  Phases out copper from automobile brakes by 2025 to remove the single largest source of toxic copper in our urban waterways.  Approved.

AB 499 (Hill).  Would have made clarifying amendments to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to ensure that all parties with a direct interest in a CEQA case are aware of a pending lawsuit and parties with no direct link to the case are not unnecessarily dragged into litigation.  Vetoed.

AB 737 (Chesbro).  Would have diverted more waste from landfills and reduced waste by requiring all commercial waste generators to establish recycling programs.  Vetoed.

SB 1006 (Pavley). Clarifies the Strategic Growth grant eligibility list to include JPAs, MPOs, special districts and other local government organizations, in light of the demonstrated performance of JPAs and special districts in green projects.  Approved.

SB 1124 (Negrete/McLeod).  Will ensure that San Bernardino County fulfils its obligation to protect lands it purchased with state bond money from Proposition 70 passed in 1988. The County purchased the land two decades ago and promised to protect the land with easements. However, the easements were never placed.  Approved.

SB 1142 (Wiggins). Creates a track within the Department of Conservation's California Farmland Conservancy Program to fund agricultural easements that can provide secondary conservation benefits such as flood protection and habitat preservation.  Approved.

SB 1365 (Corbett).  Allows the Department of Toxic Substances to test for lead and to enforce the federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act to ensure public safety.  Approved.

AB 1405 (De Leon/M. Perez). Would have established a Community Benefits Fund to direct a portion of revenues from AB 32 implementation to help Californians who are least able to confront the expected impacts of the climate crisis at the local level.  Vetoed.

SB 1433 (Leno).  Would have adjusted ceilings for air pollution violations with inflation so the real value of statutory air penalties does not further decline. The ceiling for the most commonly used category (strict liability) has not been increased since 1982.  Vetoed.

AB 1581 (Torres).  Would have allowed big box stores to move into a vacant storefront and begin operating without environmental review detailing the implications arising from the stores presence, i.e. increased traffic and diesel pollution from delivery trucks.  Died in Assembly.

AB 1963 (Nava).  Improves the pesticide poisoning prevention program to protect farm workers who handle pesticides.  Laboratories will be allowed to send test results electronically to the Department of Pesticide Regulation, providing state officials with the necessary information to monitor the existing pesticide poisoning prevention program and protect farm workers.  Approved.

AB 2289 (Eng).  Enacts critical updates to California's Smog Check program that will save money for consumers and the state and boost the emission benefits of the smog check program, removing 70 tons of pollution per day.  Approved.

AB 2398 (J. Perez).  Creates increased demand for recycled carpet products in California by increasing the state's recycled content requirement for carpet bought by the state (from 10% post-consumer recycled content to 25% post-consumer carpet content). Requires carpet manufacturers to prepare a carpet stewardship plan to meet the recycling targets.  At request of the industry, the bill requires the plan to include a self-assessment mechanism that will allow the industry to finance its activities to increase recycling of carpets.  Approved.

 BUILDING CODES/GREEN BUILDINGS 

AB 1405 (De Leon).  Would have diverted 10% of fees levied on businesses under AB 32 regulations to Environmental Justice advocacy groups.  Vetoed. 

SB 1427 (Price).  Requires a governmental entity, prior to imposing a fine for a property owner's failure to maintain a vacant property acquired by foreclosure, to provide the owner of the property with notice and an opportunity to correct the violation.  Approved.

AB 1693 (Ma).  Will modify the code adoption cycle and extend it to an 18-month process, adding three months to the interim update process.  Approved.

AB 2670 (J. Perez).  Would have mandated certain state buildings be evaluated using a private green building program without recognizing the state's own green building code.  Vetoed.  

 DISADVANTAGED COMMUNINTIES

SB 194 (Florez).  Would have extended the Community Development Block Grant system to large "entitlement communities" and attempted to ensure the representation and participation of citizens of disadvantaged unincorporated communities.  Vetoed.

BUDGET TRAILER BILL: REDEVELOPMENT, WILLIAMSON ACT 

SB 863 (Budget Committee).  Would change Community Redevelopment Law to benefit two specific agencies.  First, the Centre City Redevelopment Project in San Diego will be allowed to issue an unlimited amount of debt to fund a new $800 million football stadium, without having to comply with existing law.  This law requires that older agencies seeking to increase their "debt cap" document remaining blight, spend the additional revenues to remove this blight, increase the percentage of funds set aside for housing to 30 percent, and focus these funds on homes affordable to lower-income households.  Second, the Richmond Redevelopment Agency would gain a special reprieve from potential penalties for failing to make payments to schools required under last year's budget, because the agency's revenues dropped by 20% in 2009-10. It also provides "bridge" funding for counties that have given up Williamson Act subvention funds due to the provisions of SB 2530, which diverts some funding to the state. Awaiting action by Governor.

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