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Two Land Use Related Bills Heard in Senate Governance and Finance Committee This Week

Both by Sen. DeSaulnier, One Positive for Cities, One Negative

April 25, 2013
Wednesday city officials attending the League’s Legislative Action Day got a powerful lesson in state politics as the Senate Governance and Finance Committee heard two bills by Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) – one that would help local governments and one that would harm them.
 
SB 391
 
The League was pleased to testify in support of SB 391, the California Homes and Jobs Act of 2013. The bill generates $500 million annually for affordable housing needs through a $75 recordation fee on real estate transactions with the exception of home sales. By creating a reliable and permanent source of funds, the state could fund existing affordable housing programs at dependable levels.  
 
SB 391 passed by a vote of 5– 2 along partisan lines, with support from the League, Housing California, the California Police Chiefs Association, and several housing advocacy organizations. It now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
 
The League’s support letter and a sample support letter for city officials to use are available at www.cacities.org/billsearch by typing “SB 391” into the search box.
 
SB 673
 
Opposition to state intrusion into local land use decisions led the League to oppose the Senator’s SB 673. The bill requires local governments, before taking action on any construction permit for any retail or commercial facility estimated to receive $1 million or more in state or federal subsidies, to prepare a cost-benefit analysis. The bill has a broad definition of “subsidy” which includes tax credits, low-interest loans, grants, remediation and environmental clean-up activity. Most onerous is a requirement for assessments on how the project will affect cities’ ability to meet their general plan goals, availability of mitigation measures for economic impacts, and effects on open space, affordable housing, and local facilities. In part the bill represents an additional layer of regulation, and cost, above and beyond existing CEQA requirements.
 
Leading the opposition, League Legislative Director Dan Carrigg questioned the public policy rationale for applying such requirements to local agency decisions but not to the far greater subsidies granted by the state and decried any suggestion that locally-elected officials are ignorant of the impact of their land use choices or uninvolved in regional planning efforts. 
 
SB 673 passed the Senate Governance and Finance Committee with a vote of 4–2 on Wednesday. It had no supporters testifying. The League, the California Chamber of Commerce, California Building Industry Association and other local economic development advocates testified in opposition.
 
The next opportunity for city officials to weigh in on this new and costly requirement will be when it is heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee. The hearing date has not yet been determined. 
 
The League’s opposition letter and a sample opposition letter for city officials to use are available at www.cacities.org/billsearch by putting “SB 673” into the search box.


 
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