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League Opposes SB 673, a Bill That Would Limit Local Economic Development Flexibility

Bill Would Give OPR Authority to Conduct Analysis of Local Land Use Projects

March 29, 2013
The League has taken an oppose position on SB 673 (DeSaulnier), a bill that would prohibit the approval of any retail or commercial facility estimated to receive more than $1 million in subsidies unless a comprehensive analysis is prepared by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) or a public agency or private entity under contract with OPR.
The bill includes overly broad language and findings that would undermine local land use authority and would further restrict economic development. SB 673 is scheduled for hearing on April 3 in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.
In 2011, the League opposed similar legislation, SB 469 (Vargas; 2011) attempting to restrict “superstores” by requiring an exhaustive 17-point economic impact analysis. Gov. Jerry Brown ultimately vetoed SB 469 with the message “… While I recognize that the merits of large-scale projects need to be carefully considered, plenty of laws are already on the books that enable and in some cases require cities and counties to carefully assess whether these projects are in a community's best interests. This bill would add yet another layer of review to an already cumbersome process.”
The League’s opposition to SB 673 rests on several points, reminiscent of its previous opposition to SB 469, including:
  • What happened to subsidiarity?: Since the beginning of the year, the Governor has made several calls for what he has termed “subsidiarity” or the idea that a “central authority should only perform those tasks which cannot be performed at the more immediate or local level.”  This bill is in direct conflict with this principle and represents a micromanagement of local land use authority and economic development flexibility by the state. City officials and local voters are best equipped to evaluate the development needs in their community, not the state.
  • Anti-subsidy or anti-development?: While the bill purports to address subsidized developments, the requirements of the in depth state-performed analysis goes far beyond addressing perceived impacts of subsidies alone. In addition to covering potential revenues and costs and basic land use and safety concerns, the analysis requires consideration of impacts on low and moderate income housing, impacts to parks, open spaces, playgrounds, child care centers, community centers, effect of development on blight, and recommendations to mitigate adverse economic impacts. The state does not make these requirements of any other project funding with state subsidies. Whether intended or not, the bill would restrict all types of development with these far reaching requirements.
  • Further restricts local economic development: With the elimination of redevelopment, and the continued state effort to eliminate or dramatically reduce enterprise zones, local governments are running out of options to promote business development and job creation and retention at the local level. Further restriction of local economic development will only hurt cities and in turn will hurt the state as a whole. 
City officials are encouraged to send opposition letters. The League’s opposition letter and a sample opposition letter are available on the League’s website by typing “SB 673” into the search box.

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