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Three Anti-Development Bills Threaten Local Economies and Local Control

May 10, 2013
With California’s economy barely recovering and millions of Californians still out of work, three bills that impede local development projects continue to move through the Legislature.
 
These anti-development bills despite significant opposition and local costs, recently passed policy committees. Differing in the details, AB 667 (Hernández), AB 562 (Williams) and SB 673 (DeSaulnier), all impose exhaustive, state-prescribed requirements on economic development activities and projects that maximize expense and delay.

Consider recent votes in the Assembly Local Government Committee. Last week the committee passed AB 667. This groceries union-sponsored bill prohibits the approval of certain “superstores” that sell groceries unless a finding can be made that the store would have no material adverse economic effect in a surrounding five-mile “impact area” after the preparation of an exhaustive, 15-item report. The bill’s real effect is to create additional grounds for litigation. The League opposed the measure based upon the principle that land use decisions should be made at the local level. The League’s oppose letter is available online by going to www.cacities.org/billsearch by typing “AB 667” into the search function.
 
The Assembly Local Government Committee also approved AB 562 this week. Sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the bill requires local governments to track and maintain comprehensive data on any expenditure or loss of revenue for economic development purposes valued more than $100,000. To these costly and burdensome mandates, AB 562 also adds additional requirements for public hearings, biennial reports, and publication of information online. Local government processes are already highly transparent. The bill would have the effect of making local economic development efforts more cumbersome. The League’s oppose letter is available online by going to www.cacities.org/billsearch by typing “AB 562” into the search function.
 
On Monday without a hearing on its costs, the Senate Appropriations Committee sent SB 673 (DeSaulnier) to the Senate Floor. By invoking Senate Rule 28.8, the chair can take such action on a bill “without significant fiscal impact.”  SB 673, however, is certainly not without fiscal impact. This bill, recently supported by the California Professional Firefighters and the California Labor Federation, would halt development of any retail or commercial facility project that benefits substantially from any financial assistance “including but not limited to” a state or federal grant, low-interest loan, land donation or acquisition, remediation or environmental cleanup activity until an exhaustive analysis parallel to CEQA is prepared on the project including an assessment of potential measures to mitigate “any materially adverse economic impact.” The League’s oppose letter is available online by going to www.cacities.org/billsearch by typing “SB 673” into the search function.
 
The sponsors and supporters of these bills may believe that by limiting and constricting local economic development activities they can retain or expand union or other higher-wage jobs. While an understandable objective, such measures are much more likely to retard than enhance our fragile economy.
 
Call to Action
 
AB 667, AB 562 and SB 673 undercut local economic development efforts and undermine the ability of cities and residents to make decisions that best fit their own community. Cities are encouraged to send letters opposing these bills.


 
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