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Legislative Action Day Brings Hundreds of City Officials to the Capitol to Advocate for City Priorities

Attendees Briefed on Transportation, Housing, Economic Development and Other Proposals

May 1, 2015
The League’s annual Legislative Action day started on Wednesday morning with a policy update for the assembled city officials on the major pending issues affecting cities.
League President and Scotts Valley Council Member Stephany Aguilar welcomed the delegates and thanked them for their commitment to their city and for making the trip to Sacramento for this important event.

“We come together to bring the voice of cities to the State Capitol. While our cities are all unique, our core priorities are united. When we join together we are powerful,” Aguilar told the audience.
League Executive Director Chris McKenzie informed cities on the Department of Finance’s proposed changes to the redevelopment dissolution process that attempts to change the rules after the fact. McKenzie explained that this proposal would undo court cases and change other statutes upon which local governments relied on when making decisions, and encouraged attendees to ask their legislators to reject the harmful elements.
McKenzie also reported on the drought meeting he attended, along with 15 mayors from throughout the state, with Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday. The Governor and mayors discussed water conservation realities and strategies including the impacts of the recent California 4th District Court of Appeal ruling that the city of San Juan Capistrano’s tired water rate system is unconstitutional. McKenzie stated that without tiered rates, water agencies may need to impose more severe penalties for water waste.
The League distributed four fact sheets on major issues for city officials to use in meetings with their legislators. These addressed:
  • Transportation and Public Works;
  • Economic Development and Redevelopment;
  • Affordable Housing; and
  • Medical Marijuana.  
Legislators Brief City Officials on Major Issues
City officials had the opportunity to hear from four legislators involved in major policy issues during Wednesday’s briefing. They each shared insights on transportation, affordable housing, medical marijuana and other issues.
Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), chair of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, outlined his efforts on his SB 16, a major transportation financing proposal aimed at halting the deterioration of state highways and local streets and roads. This measure passed its first legislative hurdle on Tuesday when it passed out the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. Sen. Beall, a former Santa Clara County supervisor and San Jose city council member, urged support for his funding plan because California’s highways, streets and roads will no longer be able to support a world class economy. “We are banking on the past and making the future pay the bills in many ways.”
Assembly Member Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) updated members on his medical marijuana legislation, AB 266, which is co-sponsored by the League and the California Police Chiefs Association. This measure passed its first hearing Tuesday. “I am a big believer that this is an area of California law that has been neglected,” said Cooley, a former city official and League first vice president. Mr. Cooley also explained how AB 266’s provisions that concentrate authority over medical marijuana in one state agency, while also protecting local control, provides greater accountability and oversight.
Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) gave an overview of her caucus’ priorities and shared that the Republican caucus is analyzing the housing and transportation proposals in hopes of finding bipartisan solutions. She encouraged city officials to come to Sacramento and share their stories. She relayed that when she was on the Modesto City Council, she came to the Capitol to advocate for local control. The Republican leader also thanked the League for support of her ACA 1, which would require legislation to be in print or available online for at least 72 hours before a final vote.
Assembly Member David Chiu (D-San Francisco) briefed members on the Assembly’s pending affordable housing funding package. He is the author of AB 35, along with Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), which would increase the state’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit by $300 million. This bill is part of a housing package that also includes the Speaker’s AB 1335, which would establish a permanent source of funding for affordable housing, generating up to $700 million annually. Assembly Member Chiu also commented on the drought and stressed that future housing be built using new techniques to conserve water.
Summit on Environmental Degradation and Other Harmful Effects of Illegal Marijuana Grows
During the day, the League also hosted a special summit on the environmental impacts and public safety issues resulting from illegal marijuana growing in California. The almost-two-hour event featured legislators, scientists and law enforcement who briefed the packed room on the environmental degradation from marijuana cultivation and the public safety dangers this activity poses for Californians. For more, please see “Summit Brings Together Environmental Experts, Public Safety and State Officials to Discuss the Impact of California’s Illegal Marijuana Grow Sites.”
Panel on Economic Development
Following legislative meetings, and prior to attending the League’s Legislative Reception, many city officials participated in a late afternoon panel on economic development, co-sponsored by the League’s Latino Caucus. Redwood City Council Member Alicia Aguirre, as caucus president, made opening remarks and introduced Dan Carrigg, the League’s senior director for policy development who moderated the panel. The panel comprised Assembly Member Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) and Assembly Member Edwardo Garcia (D-Coachella).
“This is an opportunity to hear from legislators who are playing leading roles in discussions in the Legislature about economic development,” Carrigg told the audience.
Carrigg briefed the audience on the 10 or so bills that are part of the Assembly’s economic development package, many of which affect cities including Garcia’s AB 184 and AB 185.
Assembly Member Garcia, who came to the Legislature in 2014 after serving for 10 years on the Coachella City Council, began by acknowledging the hard work of local officials. He thanked the assembled city officials for their service. “It is important to recognize the work you do, day in and day out in your communities. You are where the ‘rubber hits the road,’” said Garcia.
He also discussed how the committee he chairs, the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy, is talking a broad look at issues affecting these issues. For example, he explained, the committee is very interested in early childhood education. While this might not appear to be related, Assembly Member Garcia stressed how early childhood education has significant implications for job readiness and the economy.
Assembly Member Alejo remarked about the how the loss of redevelopment and the Enterprise Zone program has harmed cities, particularly those in disadvantaged areas. He told the audience that he was just one of three Democrats who voted against the elimination of redevelopment. The Assembly member is optimistic that this year the Governor will sign his legislation, League-supported AB 2, to recreate the redevelopment tool for those communities that need it most He concluded his discussion by saying that he is hopeful that AB 2 will be landmark legislation.

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