In recent years, matters related to planning and development have not appeared at the top of state lawmakers’ agenda. But 2006 is different.

Spurred by Gov. Schwarzenegger’s pitch for an infrastructure investment package, the Legislature has tackled infrastructure and related financing with an almost single-minded determination.

Besides the governor’s proposal, which is contained in numerous bills, Democrats and Republicans have introduced counterproposals contained in other pieces of legislation. Policy committees and a conference committee met regularly during late January and all of February to dissect the governor’s proposal and craft responses. Los Angeles state Sen. Kevin Murray, co-chairman of the Conference Committee on Infrastructure Bonds, said the committee could start meeting daily this month.

“Everybody is waiting for the infrastructure conference committee to go forward,” said Sande George, lobbyist for the California Chapter of the American Planning Association. “The attention is all on that because it’s the only thing happening.”

What the infrastructure package will look like is unknown, as everything — including the amount of bonds — appears to be in play. Although the governor proposed very little money for natural resources and parks, and no money for housing, Democrats are insisting that investment in those areas is essential. Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed concern about the size of the governor’s $68 billion, 10-year bond package. Neither Democrats nor Republicans are rushing to embrace the governor’s plan for building new prisons and jails.

The infrastructure discussion is so far-reaching that it even includes proposed California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) amendments and a plan to make local governments liable for Central Valley levees.

Aside from the infrastructure discussion, lawmakers are considering the largest changes to the Community Redevelopment Law since 1993. The Democrat-backed redevelopment changes appear to have a much better chance of passing than Republican-authored restrictions on eminent domain.

As originally proposed, the governor’s infrastructure package provided virtually no money for natural resources, open space and parks. Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), the chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, said during a late February committee meeting that the governor’s plan undervalues natural resources. Kuehl, an important voice in the Senate, said that she views flood protection, water and natural resources as co-equal with education and transportation.

Committee member Sen. Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley), however, urged his colleagues not to confuse water resources and flood protection with parks and open space. Lawmakers already have concerns about the size of the governor’s bond package, Aanestad said, and loading money for parks and open space into it will only make the debt bigger. Still, it is unlikely the Democratic majority will back a bond package that lacks money for parks and open space.

Flood control, however, has at least started the year as something of a bipartisan issue. Aanestad and Democratic Assemblyman John Laird of Santa Cruz introduced as part of the governor’s package two bills (SB 1166 and AB 1839) that would shift liability and financial responsibility for levees from the state to cities, counties and special districts. The proposal could have the effect of nearly ending new development in areas protected by levees, many of which have been chronically underfunded. Local governments have already voiced opposition to the legislation.

During a February hearing, Aanestad conceded his bill “probably wasn’t ready for prime time” and said he would rewrite it. But lawmakers clearly are concerned about unabated growth in flood-prone areas. During the same hearing, Kuehl spoke of “changing land use planning so we can help people by not putting them in harm’s way in the first place.”

During a February 23 meeting of the Conference Committee on Infrastructure Bonds, state Treasurer and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides urged members to take a smart-growth approach to infrastructure investments. He said infrastructure spending provides “the most important lever the state has” to influence growth patterns, and he contended that Schwarzenegger’s package ignores the lessons California has learned about growth during the last 50 years.

“A good infrastructure plan should increase the choices Californians have,” Angelides told the committee. “We have to allocate more resources to mass transit … and to transit-oriented development.”

Conference committee members, perhaps tellingly, did not engage Angelides on the subject. Instead, they focused on fiscal issues.

Clearly, the conference committee will be where much of the action is. Murray said Democrats can agree with the governor on many things. But when the committee starts producing recommended legislation “we will not necessarily be putting out the governor’s product. We will be putting out the Legislature’s product,” Murray said.

Republicans are hoping that CEQA amendments will be part of that product. San Joaquin Valley Republican Assemblymen Greg Aghazarian and Michael Villines introduced bills (AB 2026 and AB 2029) that would relax environmental review for flood control projects. Initially, however, Democrats gave a cool reception to the measures.

Housing advocates, meanwhile, have pushed to place money for housing into the infrastructure discussion. State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland) and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles) said in February they would include $1.4 billion and $2 billion for housing in their respective bond packages. Although Schwarzenegger did not include money for housing in his initial proposal, his representatives have signaled that he might support the idea.

Other than the infrastructure proposals, state Sen. Christine Kehoe’s proposals to amend redevelopment law are potentially the year’s most important land use bills. Her measures, SB 1206 and SB 53, are the result of hearings conducted last fall, which themselves were the result of fallout over the Supreme Court’s June 2005 decision upholding the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes.

“I heard from homeowners who feel they may lose their homes, and I also heard from community groups that support redevelopment projects that clean up neighborhoods in crisis,” said Kehoe, a San Diego Democrat who chairs the Senate Local Government Committee. “This is not a simple issue, but one thing is clear: The state needs to do more to tighten the laws and regulations that protect homeowners.”

The bills would:

• Tighten the definition of blight and repeal the antiquated subdivision exception for required blight findings.

• Require new blight findings before redevelopment agencies issue new bonds or merge project areas.

• Provide up to 90 days for opponents to file lawsuits or file referendum petitions.

• Increase state oversight, primarily by giving the attorney general greater ability to sue redevelopment agencies.

• Prohibit redevelopment agencies from buying land for city halls.

• Require greater advance disclosure about how agencies will use eminent domain, and limit the time during which eminent domain may be commenced.

Kehoe’s redevelopment changes would be the most significant since a 1993 overhaul. The California Redevelopment Association has expressed concern that some of the changes go too far. Kehoe’s bills, though, are not the only measures, as the Supreme Court’s unpopular decision has forced lawmakers to address redevelopment practices.

Proposed Land Use Legislation For 2006


• AB 1387 (Jones). Modifies an existing exemption from environmental review for urban infill housing projects. The bill, which has passed the Assembly, would exempt from CEQA-related traffic impacts projects of up to 100 units with a minimum density of 20 units per acre. The projects also would have to be within half a mile of a transit stop and comply with the local circulation element.

• SB 832 (Perata). Expands an exemption for urban infill housing developments to cover projects of up to 10 acres and 300 units, but only in cities with populations of at least 200,000 people. This bill could be amended to become part of a Democratic infrastructure package.

• SB 1191 (Hollingsworth). A major overhaul of CEQA. Among other things, the bill would establish a “short form” environmental impact report that a lead agency would be required to prepare if a project met certain criteria. The bill also changes notice requirements, timelines and definitions in CEQA, and limits the issues a lead agency may consider. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality, which is highly unlikely to approve the proposal.

General Plans

• SB 44 (Kehoe). Requires all jurisdictions to adopt air quality elements that account for development patterns.

• SB 409 (Kehoe). Requires cities and counties to correlate the water supply portion of their conservation elements with their land use elements.

• AB 802 (Wolk). Requires cities and counties to account for flood safety in general plan updates. The bill passed in the Assembly with a bare majority of 41 votes.

• SB 655 (Ortiz). Requires cities and counties to map areas with naturally occurring asbestos, identify the areas in the general plan, and disclose to buyers if asbestos is present. The bill stems from controversy in El Dorado and other Sierra foothill counties, where development has stirred up natural asbestos fibers.

• SB 1059 (Escutia). Requires cities and counties to amend their general plans to show the electric transmission corridor designated by the California Energy Commission.


• AB 350 (Matthews). Authorizes local governments in Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties to create infrastructure finance districts in jobs-housing opportunity zones.

• SB 223 (Torlakson). Establishes a new program in which the Department of Housing and Community Development would offer forgivable loans to cities and counties for the preparation of specific plans that provide for additional infill housing.

• SB 1322 (Cedillo). Requires cities and counties to make emergency shelters and residential service providers by-right uses in certain zones.


• AB 1020 (Hancock). Permits councils of government and regional transportation agencies in most urban areas to prepare new transportation models that better account for land uses, transit and the effects of charging tolls. The bill passed the Assembly after the author downgraded the provisions from mandatory to permissive.

• AB 1157 (Frommer). Authorizes $500 million in bonds to fund railroad grade separation projects.

• AB 1785 (Bermudez). Increases by $55 million annually the money available for railroad grade separation projects.

• AB 1783 (Nunez). The speaker’s infrastructure plan. The bill contains few details so far.

• AB 1831 (Jones) and SB 1163 (Ackerman). Authorizes $2.2 billion in bonds for courthouses, state parks, mental hospitals and other state facilities. Part of governor’s package.

• AB 1833 (Arambula). Authorizes $6.8 billion in bonds for county jails, state prisons and development of state military facilities. Part of governor’s package.

• AB 1836 (Daucher) and SB 1164 (Runner). Authorizes $38 billion worth of bonds for schools and universities. Part of governor’s package.

• AB 1838 (Oropeza) and SB 1165 (Dutton). Authorizes $26 billion in bonds for transportation improvements. The bills also change contracting procedures to permit “design-build” projects and “design sequencing.” Part of governor’s package.

• AB 1839 (Laird) and SB 1166 (Aanestad). Authorizes $9 billion worth of bonds for flood protection and water management projects. The bills would shift responsibility for Central Valley levees from the state to local governments in some instances, and would impose a new charge on water customers statewide to raise $5 billion worth of revenue over 10 years. Part of governor’s package.

• AB 2025 (Niello). Authorizes Caltrans to use the design-build method to deliver projects. Part of Assembly Republican package.

• AB 2026 (Aghazarian) and AB 2029 (Villines). Reduces CEQA requirements for flood control projects. Part of Assembly Republican package.

• AB 2027 (La Malfa). Reduces wildlife habitat protection requirements for flood control projects. Part of Assembly Republican package.

• ACA 4 (Plescia), ACA 9 (Bough) and ACA 11 (Oropeza). Different approaches for protecting Proposition 42 sales tax revenue for transportation.

• ACA 27 (McCarthy). Provides for pay-as-you-go capital improvements. Part of Assembly Republican package.

• SB 153 (Chesbro). Authorizes $4 billion in bonds for parks, open space and water resources.

• SB 1024 (Perata). Authorizes an unspecified amount of bonds for a wide variety of capital improvements and environmental programs. The bill could authorize at least $14 billion worth of bonds.


• AB 773 (Mullin). Increases from 30 days to 90 days the time in which voters may prepare a referendum of a redevelopment ordinance. Jurisdictions with more than 500,000 people already have the 90-day period. The bill would extend the 90-day provision to smaller jurisdictions.

• AB 782 (Mullin). Removes as a basis for establishing a redevelopment project area the existence of small and irregular lots. Agencies instead would have to make typical findings of blight.

• AB 1162 (Mullin). Places a moratorium until 2008 on redevelopment agencies taking by eminent domain an owner-occupied residential property if the property is to be transferred to a private entity.

• AB 1893 (Salinas). Prohibits a redevelopment agency from using tax-increment financing to fund the acquisition of land on which a city hall or county administrative building would be constructed. The bill also bars use of tax-increment financing for site clearance or design costs for city hall and administration center projects.

• AB 1990 (Waters). Prohibits use of eminent domain if the real property being acquired is to be transferred to a private entity.

• ACA 22 (La Malfa), SCA 15 and SCA 20 (McClintock). Constitutional amendments that place tight restrictions on the use of eminent domain.

• SB 53 (Kehoe). Requires redevelopment plans to explain where, when and how officials will use eminent domain. The bill also makes plan amendments subject to referendum.

• SB 1206 (Kehoe). Proposes an overhaul of the Community Redevelopment Law by, among other things, providing a new definition of blight, limiting the use of funds in merged redevelopment project areas, and making it easier to file legal challenges and referendums regarding redevelopment plans.

• SB 1210 (Torlakson). Makes numerous changes to how agencies carry out eminent domain actions.

• SB 1329 (Alquist). Authorizes redevelopment agencies to award planning grants and other financial incentives to supermarkets and other grocers to assist with planning and building supermarkets in underserved areas.


• AB 1766 (Dymally). Permits enterprise zones to request 25-year extensions. Eighteen such zones, in which the government provides tax breaks for new and growing businesses, are scheduled to expire this year.

• AB 1898 (Jones). Requires property owners in areas lacking 200-year flood protection to get flood insurance. This would be a new requirement for large portions of the Sacramento and Stockton metropolitan areas.

• AB 1899 (Wolk). Prohibits development on land that lacks 200-year flood protection. This bill could start a major controversy over planning to avoid disasters.

• SB 42 (Florez). Requires new compacts between the state and Indian tribes to be approved by the Legislature.

• SB 625 (Battin). Authorizes the Department of General Services to offer surplus land to local governments at fair market value.

• SB 1060 (Campbell). Authorizes two or more local agencies within the same county to swap property tax revenues for sales tax revenues.

• SB 1230 (Florez). Creates the Clean Air Enterprise Zone Program, which permits creation of new enterprise zones in the San Joaquin Valley.