Legislative Update: January 2009

BY SANDE GEORGE, STEFAN/GEORGE ASSOCIATES

APA CALIFORNIA LOBBYIST AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

New Legislative Session Begins


The California Legislature started its new 2009-2010 Legislative Session on December 8th, but even now in January remains mired in budget and deficit negotiations. As a result, the number of new bills introduced is off to a slow start. However, there are a number of topics APA expects to see addressed in legislation this year. Below is a quick list:

  • SB 375 Cleanup – SB 375 is the measure signed into law last year that is the platform for AB 32 transportation global warming emission reduction planning at the regional level. It requires regional GHG transportation processes and a Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS), provides CEQA benefits for housing projects consistent with the SCS, targets transportation funding to projects consistent with the SCS, and aligns the RHNA housing element process with the regional transportation process. Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) plans to introduce a measure this year that will be used as a clean-up bill for remaining issues, including which additional projects (commercial/retail, transportation, housing infrastructure) might be eligible for the SB 375 CEQA benefits, and a timetable to eliminate schedule conflicts between the new 8-year housing element and the 4-year Regional Transportation Plans.
  • New Mandated General Plan Elements – Each year, there are proposals to add one or two new mandated General Plan Elements. This year, at least one is already being considered for a public health element. Rather than continue to haphazardly deal legislatively with issues in the General Plan, APA California has just endorsed a new comprehensive General Plan effort by the California Planning Roundtable called “The Evolving General Plan Project”. The goal of the project is to develop tools and resources to promote development and implementation of the most effective General Plans for the 21st Century. Several tools may be developed including a report, other documentation or models which are web-based to assist in the preparation of a 21st Century General Plan, and identification of proposals to strengthen planning law and policy. APA California will continue to resist changes in General Plan law pending the results of this interesting project.
  • Permanent Source of Housing Funding – Assembly Member Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) will be introducing legislation to provide mechanisms that will supply permanent sources of funding for housing. This measure is the result of a series of meetings sponsored by HCD this last year.
  • Fire Planning and Restrictions on Development Approval in High Fire Danger Areas – Last year, both Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) and Assembly Member Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) sponsored bills to deal with development in areas of high fire danger. Both plan to reintroduce measures again in 2009.
  • Moratorium on Digital Billboards – Concerned about digital billboards, Assembly Member Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) has already announced his intention to sponsor a bill to place a three-year moratorium on the building of new digital billboards or the conversion of old standard billboards to new electronic ones. The moratorium will give the Legislature time to consider recommendations from several studies on the potential safety hazards of electronic billboards.
  • Small Wind Energy Device Model Ordinance – Assembly Member Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo) is considering a bill that would provide cities and counties with a small wind energy device model ordinance. The ordinance would address both the typical windmill type device, as well as the new rooftop devices that cities and counties are now seeing at the local level.

For continually updated information about legislation, please visit the APA California website under the new articles section as well as under the “Quick Leg Info” link on the homepage. The website is www.calapa.org.

JOIN THE APA CALIFORNIA LEGISLATIVE REVIEW TEAMS

The APA California Legislative Review Teams are once again gearing up to review the new planning-related legislation introduced in 2009. To get more information on the Teams, please visit the APA California website. If you would like to become a member of the Review Teams, please e-mail me at sgeorge@stefangeorge.com.