August 2019 – This Month in Sacramento

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Legislative Update
by Richard Markuson
Region 9 Legislative Advocate


The big news last month was the passage of the 2019-2020 State budget. Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders agreed to spend $2 billion to combat the state’s housing and homelessness. The state’s 13 largest cities will receive the largest share of the funding, at $275 million. Counties will receive $175 million, and regional agencies $190 million.

Accompanying the new spending: an expedited approval process for constructing “low barrier navigation centers” – temporary living shelters that connect homeless with more permanent housing and other services. Under the new rules, proposed shelters will not have to go through a full environmental review, a procedure homeless advocates say is often abused by neighborhoods seeking to delay or derail new shelters.

New rules spell out what punishments cities could expect if they don’t comply with state housing law. If a city fails for a year to fix its housing plans, a judge could fine that city between $10,000 and $600,000 per month. Judges also would be granted power to approve permits for new housing developments.

An earlier proposal that would have empowered a judge to divert state-administered transportation funding from a city is not in the final budget agreement.


Status Report on ASCE’s Bills of Interest

AB 48 (O’Donnell – D) Authorizes a $13 billion bond for the construction and modernization of Kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) and California Community Colleges (CCC) facilities to be placed on the 2020 primary statewide election and an unspecified amount for the statewide general 2022 election. ASCE Position: Support. Location: 6/19/2019-Senate GOV. & F.

AB 134 (Bloom – D) Requires funding from a Safe Drinking Water Fund (Fund) or Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund to be displayed in the Governor’s annual budget and requires at least every five years the Legislative Analyst Office’s (LAO) to provide an assessment of the effectiveness of expenditures from the Fund. ASCE Position: Watch. Location: 6/12/2019-S. E.Q.

AB 252 (Daly – D) Removes the sunset for Caltrans’ authority to assume the role of the U.S. DOT for NEPA decision making. ASCE Position: Support. Location: 6/25/2019-S. THIRD READING

AB 285 (Friedman – D) This bill updates requirements of the California Transportation Plan (CTP) to add environmental justice as a subject of consideration and to reflect the state’s GHG reduction goals. ASCE Position: Watch. Location: 6/24/2019-S. APPR.

AB 292 (Quirk – D) Updates the definition of potable reuse of recycled water by including raw water augmentation, treated drinking water augmentation, groundwater augmentation, or reservoir water augmentation within the definition of recycled water and deleting direct and indirect potable reuse. ASCE Position: Watch. Location: 6/19/2019-S. N.R. & W.

AB 305 (Nazarian – D) Makes a number of changes to existing law that allows publicly-owned utilities (POUs) that provide water service to form joint powers authorities (JPAs) for the purpose of issuing rate reduction bonds for specified water projects. ASCE Position: Watch. Location: 6/19/2019-S. APPR.

AB 393 (Nazarian – D) Requires the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) to assemble a working group to investigate and, by July 1, 2021, determine criteria for a “functional recovery” voluntary or mandatory standards following a seismic event for all or some building occupancy classifications ASCE Position: Support. Location: 6/18/2019-S. APPR.

AB 394 (Obernolte – R) Exempts from CEQA, until January 1, 2025, egress route projects or activities undertaken by a public agency that are specifically recommended by the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection that improve the fire safety of an existing subdivision if certain conditions are met. ASCE Position: Watch. Location: 6/13/2019-S. N.R. & W.

AB 402 (Quirk – D) Creates an opt-in program, administered by the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) to fund regulatory oversight of small public drinking water systems in Local Primacy Agency (LPA) counties. ASCE Position: Watch. Location: 5/29/2019-S. E.Q.

AB 429 (Nazarian – D) Directs the Alfred E. Alquist Seismic Safety Commission to compile an inventory of buildings potentially vulnerable to seismic activity in Alameda, Alpine, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Lake, Los Angeles, Marin, Mendocino, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Riverside, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Ventura counties. ASCE Position: Watch. Location: 6/11/2019-S. APPR.

AB 489 (Stone, Mark – D) This bill adds eligibility criteria for increasing the share of nonfederal costs for specified recreation facilities within flood projects. This bill would add outdoor recreation areas, sports complexes, and musical venues to the eligible criteria for increasing the state share of nonfederal costs from 50 percent to 70 percent. ASCE Position: Watch. Location: 5/29/2019-S. N.R. & W.

AB 638 (Gray – D) Requires the DWR to identify and update every two years, the statewide water storage capacity, the adverse effects of climate change to this storage capacity, and possible mitigation strategies. ASCE Position: Watch. Location: 6/19/2019-S. N.R. & W.

AB 695 (Medina – D) Extends the sunset on community college districts’ authority to enter into design-build public works contracts and adopts the same “skilled and trained workforce” requirements applicable to the design-build authority of state agencies and local governments. The bill contains provisions that allow a contractor under a project labor agreement to be presumed to meet the requirements of using a skilled and trained workforce. ASCE Position: Support. Location: 6/25/2019-S. THIRD READING

AB 722 (Bigelow – R) This bill would limit the total annual dam safety fees for a dam owned by an irrigation district with a rate-payer base of 500 or less. ASCE Position: Watch. Location: 5/29/2019-S. N.R. & W.

AB 756 (Garcia, Cristina – D) Authorizes the State Water Resources Control Board to order an individual public water system, specific groups of public water systems, or all public water systems to monitor for perfluoroalkyl substances and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). Requires a State Water Board-accredited laboratory to perform the analysis of any material required by an order to monitor for these substances. ASCE Position: Watch. Location: 6/24/2019-S. APPR.

AB 841 (Ting – D) Requires OEHHA to assess perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances in drinking water. ASCE Position: Watch. Location: 5/29/2019-S. E.Q.

AB 1142 (Friedman – D) Authorizes Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO)s, with a population over 200,000, to add additional performance indicators in the regional transportation plan (RTP). ASCE Position: Support. Location: 6/19/2019-S. E. U., & C.

AB 1180 (Friedman – D) Requires the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board), on or before January 1, 2023, to update the uniform statewide criteria for nonpotable recycled water uses. ASCE Position: Watch. Location: 6/24/2019-S. APPR. SUSPENSE FILE

AB 1304 (Waldron – R) Allows a water district to enter into a contract with a Native American tribe to receive water deliveries from an infrastructure project on tribal lands. ASCE Position: Watch. Location: 5/29/2019-S. N.R. & W.

AB 1522 (Low – D) Extends the operation of the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists until January 1, 2024. ASCE Position: Support. Location: 6/6/2019-S. B., P. & E.D.

AB 1580 (Levine – D) Requires a state agency undertaking a publicly funded major infrastructure construction project, as specified, that is estimated to cost $1 billion or more to establish an oversight committee (committee) with certain responsibilities. ASCE Position: Support. Location: 6/25/2019-S. APPR.

SB 6 (Beall – D) This bill requires the Department of General Services (DGS), in coordination with the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), to create a database of state and local surplus lands available for residential development. ASCE Position: Watch. Location: 6/19/2019-A. A. & A.R.

SB 19 (Dodd – D) This bill would require the SWRCB and the DWR to develop a plan to deploy a network of stream gages in order to address significant gaps in information necessary for water management and the conservation of freshwater species. ASCE Position: Support. Location: 6/18/2019-A. APPR.

SB 127 (Wiener – D) This bill requires more pedestrian and bicycle facilities to be installed on state highways, subject to limitations and exceptions, when the Department of Transportation is working on those highways. ASCE Position: OUA. Location: 6/6/2019-A. TRANS.

SB 200 (Monning – D) This bill establishes the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund to help water systems provide an adequate and affordable supply of safe drinking water in both the near and the long term. It requires the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to adopt a fund implementation plan and requires expenditures of the fund to be consistent with the plan. It also requires SWRCB, in consultation with local health officers and others, to make publicly available a map of aquifers that are used or likely to be used as a source of drinking water that are at high risk of containing contaminants. ASCE Position: Watch. Location: 6/10/2019-A. E.S. & T.M.

SB 330 (Skinner – D) This bill establishes the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, which places restrictions on certain types of development standards, amends the Housing Accountability Act (HAA), makes changes to local approval processes and the Permit Streamlining Act, and requires a local agency, upon request of the residential property owner, to delay enforcement of a code violation for seven years, or earlier at the discretion of the enforcement agency, if the correction is not necessary to protect health and safety. ASCE Position: Watch. Location: 6/19/2019-A. L. GOV.

SB 556 (Pan – D) This bill establishes a certification process for a business practicing land surveying under the jurisdiction of the BPELSG beginning January 1, 2022. BPELSG opposes; “The Board is concerned with the overall concept of the creation of a certification program for land surveying businesses. Aside from the technical aspects of implementing such a program, the Board does not believe the concept has been sufficiently studied and considered to determine if requiring businesses through which its licensees offer their professional services to obtain a certification is necessary to better protect the public. Existing law already indicates what requirements must be met in order for licensees to offer their services through a business entity.” ASCE Position: Watch. Location: 6/6/2019-A. B.&P.

SJR 5 (Beall – D) Urges the Congress and the President of the United States to take action on legislation to fund the nation’s transportation infrastructure. ASCE Position: Support. Location: 5/16/2019-A. TRANS.


New Reports of Interest

The International Council on Clean Transportation released Comparison of the Electric Car Market in China and the United States. This working paper compares the market and technological characteristics of electric cars in China and the United States, based on 2015 and 2017 data. The study finds that in both Chinese and U.S. markets a handful of cities accounted for the majority of electric car sales. The top 30 cities in both countries made up over 70% of the total electric car market in 2017, and approximately 40% of passenger vehicle sales. In both countries, fewer than 10 brands made up approximately 90% of the total electric car market share in 2015 and 2017. In China, brands tend to perform better in markets where they are headquartered or have a manufacturing facility. In the United States, leading models are similar across states, as most automakers have robust nationwide distribution and dealership networks.

Solar Energy released Overbuilding & Curtailment: the Cost-effective Enablers of Firm PV Generation. The study authors argue that overbuilding solar arrays and curtailing production is the most cost-effective way of achieving the states clean energy goals and stabilizing supply. A Los Angeles Times article reporting on the study notes that overbuilding can create flexibility for grid operators, yet “[t]he key question is how much extra solar power is beneficial, and how much is a waste of money.” The uncertainty of energy storage costs and challenges with citing solar farms are also questions to consider. Former Governor Jerry Brown had proposed a regional plan that would have allowed for sharing of excess capacity, yet some lawmakers feared a loss of control over the energy supply. Recent attempts include SB 772, which would have repurposed an abandoned mine as a hydroelectric plant. (Los Angeles Times, June 5, 2019).

Legislative Analyst’s Office has released “Allocating Utility Wildfire Costs: Options and Issues for Consideration,” examines recommendations to cost allocation changes identified by the Governor’s Strike Force and the Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost and Recovery and says: “Most of the changes would shift how future costs associated with utility-causing wildfires are paid among different groups. For example, changing the prudent manager standard would shift future risks from utility shareholders to ratepayers. Other changes—specifically, changing strict liability and establishing a wildfire fund—would likely result in a broader shift in risk and costs between shareholders, ratepayers, insurers and property owners.”


Governor’s Appointments

As Inspector General for CaltransRhonda Craft, Sacramento, director of the Office of Traffic Safety at the CA State Transportation Agency since 2014.

As Inspector General of the Bay Area Rapid TransitHarriet Richardson, University Place, WA, former city auditor for the City of Palo Alto.

To the Colorado River Board of CaliforniaJames Madaffer, San Diego, President of Madaffer Enterprises since 2009.

As Deputy Secretary for oceans and coastal policy and director of the Ocean Protection Council at the California Natural Resources AgencyMark Gold, Santa Monica, associate vice chancellor for environment and sustainability at UCLA.



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