The author decided to pull the bill from committee following a stakeholder meeting where it became clear that opposition was growing and the bill would likely be defeated. Opposed by the League, this bill would have limited vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in new residential and commercial building projects.
AB 1627 was originally scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protections Committee before going over the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. Because AB 1627 was pulled from the Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee, there is not enough time for it to also be heard in Natural Resources before the April 27 committee hearing deadline. The bill is now considered dead.
While the bill had been drastically amended, the amendments simply were not enough to make the bill workable. The League remained opposed to the bill and lobbied against it.
The League was opposed to findings in the most recent version which attempted to reinterpret SB 375 (Steinberg). The findings stated that Municipal Planning Organizations (MPOs) were required to adopt a regional transportation plan to reduce VMT and that the Air Resources Board scoping plan states that a reduction in VMT is “an essential compliance strategy.” SB 375 does not specifically require VMT reductions, but rather greenhouse gas reductions. Furthermore, reducing VMT is only one method to reduce greenhouse gases. The findings made in AB 1627 were not supported by history and severely undercut the agreement made in SB 375.
SB 375 was carefully crafted for more than a year and a half to give local governments the flexibility and authority to reduce greenhouse gases in a method suited to their community’s needs and unique circumstances. Preserving regional flexibility and local control was a critical factor for the League, business groups, homebuilders and other organization in the final agreement on SB 375. AB 1627 was a broad re-interpretation of the goals and processes of SB 375 and would have been detrimental to local governments.
League Anticipated This Type of Legislation
The League has been working since last fall to defend against anticipated legislative efforts, such as AB 1627, that erode local flexibility provided by SB 375. Last year, the League defeated AB 710 (Skinner) which would have imposed a uniform parking standard in all local transit intensive areas.
In March 2012, the League published an article in Western City magazine titled “Trailblazing a Sustainable Path,” which discussed the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) 2050 Regional Transportation Plan, which in October 2011 became the first transportation plan adopted with a sustainability communities strategy in compliance with SB 375.
A copy of the article with a cover letter signed by the League, the California State Association of Counties, the American Planning Association and the California Association of Councils of Governments stressed the importance of local control and flexibility in meeting the goals of SB 375 and urged the Legislature to refrain from implementing any legislation that would hinder this critical component.
While AB 1627 is dead, city officials should remain watchful as this issue, and others like it, may resurface in another form.
The League would like to thank the many city officials, including Mountain View Mayor and League President Mike Kasperzak, who were instrumental in lobbying against the bill. The defeat would not have been possible without the voice of local governments.