Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ended the 2005 legislative year by vetoing one-quarter of the approximately 900 bills that lawmakers sent him.

Among the bills that the governor rejected was a zoning bill targeted by the League of California Cities. Assembly Bill 712 (Canciamilla) would have tightened the standards for findings necessary for density reductions and extended similar “no-net-loss” limitations to residentially zoned sites not identified in a housing element as required for meeting a jurisdiction’s fair-share housing mandate. The bill further would have extended a sunset on a provision allowing for attorney fees when someone sued a jurisdiction for violating the no-net-loss law. It was the attorney fee provision to which both the League and the governor objected.

“Providing incentives for third parties to sue local governments over housing decisions, as provided in this bill, is inappropriate and does not build any additional housing,” Schwarzenegger said in his veto message. “The threat of lawsuits diminishes flexibility and creativity when designing a community.”

The Republican governor also vetoed SB 940 (Torlakson), which addressed prevailing wage rates set by the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) for residential projects. Under state law, many subsidized housing projects are required to pay prevailing wages to construction workers. The DIR sets the rates based on wages reported under contracts for commercial projects (see CP&DR, May 2005). Affordable housing developers insist that residential projects it takes DIR as long as six months to determine rates for certain residential construction trades. Meanwhile, rates for commercial trades are immediately available.

The Torlakson bill would have required DIR to replicate for residential construction trades the method it uses for setting commercial construction trade wage rates. The bill, however, was co-sponsored by organized labor — and this governor is proving no friend of unions.

In his veto message, Schwarzenegger said DIR “has less than two-thirds of the information it needs for residential rate determinations” and that the bill “does nothing to remedy this deficiency.” Democratic legislators are likely to take another run at the issue next year.

It appears Democrats may also get even more serious about flood control legislation in 2006. In addition to Assemblyman John Laird’s push for a new Central Valley flood control agency and a new funding source, Senator Dean Florez (D-Shafter) said in October that he would introduce legislation to alter who is appointed to the state Reclamation Board.

In late September, only days after the Reclamation Board decided to start commenting on the environmental review of every development proposed in a Central Valley floodplain, the governor replaced the entire board with seven new appointees who appeared to be far friendlier to development interests.

“It definitely raises alarms that when this board took a stand against urban development in floodplains, the board was removed,” Florez said.

Florez, chairman of the Governmental Organization Committee, said he would consider requiring that board appointees be experts in geology, hydrology or related fields. He also said he would consider giving the Reclamation Board “greater say” over local general plans.

As for legislation that did pass this year, the governor approved:

• SB 253 (Torlakson), which clarifies what fees may be charged to cover the cost of the regional housing needs allocation process.

• SB 326 (Dunn), which permits by-right development of duplexes, triplexes and four-plexes.

• SB 435 (Hollingsworth),which makes clear that mobile homes, certain senior citizen projects and limited equity cooperatives qualify for affordable housing density bonuses. The bill also lets cities recapture subsidies provided to such projects.

• SB 575 (Torlakson), which strengthens anti-NIMBY law relating to affordable housing projects and prevents cities and counties from rejecting or conditionally approving a project unless the jurisdiction has met its fair-share housing needs for the planning period.

• SB 950 (Torlakson), which increases the types of housing that are considered “at risk” for the purpose of awarding tax credits.

• SB 1087 (Florez), which requires water providers to reserve capacity for affordable housing projects.

• AB 691 (Hancock), which allows local governments to designate existing specific plans or redevelopment plans as “transit village plans.”

• AB 1200 (Laird), which requires the state by 2008 to evaluate the potential impacts of a Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta levee failure and provide options for addressing the risks.

• AB 1233 (Jones), which requires that any portion of a local government’s share of a regional housing need that is not met during one planning period must be carried forward to the next round of fair-share housing allocations. A city or county would be required to zone land to provide for the fair-share that gets carried forward.

• AB 1390 (Jones), which expands enforcement of a redevelopment agency’s low- and moderate-income housing requirements, and amends certain replacement and rehabilitation housing requirements. The legislation establishes a 10-year statute of limitations for suing redevelopment agencies for violating housing mandates.

• AB 1746, which extends the deadline for Local Agency Formation Commissions to update their spheres of influence to January 1, 2008.

The governor vetoed:

• SB 820 (Kuehl), which would have required greater reporting of groundwater extractions, required the Department of Water Resources to analyze State Water Project delivery prospects under a variety of conditions, and required preparation of agricultural water management plans similar to urban water plans. Schwarzenegger called the bill “a significant burden on property owners.”

• AB 1747 (Wolk), which would have permitted the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians to become a member of a joint powers authority that could purchase the 17,000-acre Conaway Ranch, possibly by eminent domain. Local governments in Yolo County fear the ranch could be developed or its water rights sold, and the Rumsey Band has offered to help finance the acquisition. The governor said that allowing a tribal government to exercise public power “diminishes public accountability and control.”