December 2021 – This Month in Sacramento

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Legislative Update
by Richard Markuson
Region 9 Legislative Advocate

Fall Recess Ends

The Legislature will return to Sacramento on January 3, 2022, at 2:00 pm.

State Legislation

Following is the final list of ASCE tracked bills. They are sorted by bill number.

AB 43 (Friedman – D) grants Caltrans and local authorities greater flexibility in setting speed limits based on recommendations the Zero Traffic Fatality Task Force made in January 2020. Signed by the Governor ASCE Position: Watch

AB 464 (Mullin – D) expands the types of facilities and projects EIFDs may fund to include the acquisition, construction, or repair of commercial structures of small businesses, or facilities in which nonprofit community organizations provide health, youth, homeless, and social services, as specified. This bill is sponsored by the author. Signed by the Governor. Chapter 25, Statutes of 2021. ASCE Position: Support

AB 955 (Quirk – D) establishes additional requirements for the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) when it reviews an application for an encroachment permit for a broadband facility. Signed by the Governor ASCE Position:

AB 1010 (Berman – D) requires architects to complete five hours of continuing education training on zero net carbon design for every two-year licensing period. Signed by the Governor – Chapter 176, Statutes of 2021. ASCE Position: Watch

AB 1035 (Salas – D) this bill would have deleted the condition in the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Program requirement imposed on the department and those cities and counties to use advanced technologies and material recycling techniques to the extent possible. Vetoed by Governor. Governor’s Statement: Requiring all local agencies that have jurisdiction over streets and highways to comply with Caltrans’ recycling standards may result in increased costs. The standards adopted by Caltrans are specifically designed for Caltrans projects, which are generally larger and address a greater volume of traffic than some local projects. These requirements may not be appropriate for all local streets and roads. Further, this bill may create a reimbursable state mandate, which could result in significant state costs. ASCE Position: Watch

AB 1147 (Friedman – D) would have made numerous substantive changes to the required elements of MPOs regional transportation plans to ensure effective implementation of sustainable communities strategies and alternative planning strategies. This bill also requires the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to develop a guidance document to provide best practices for establishing “15-minute communities,” and requires Caltrans to develop a bicycle highway pilot program. Vetoed by Governor. Governor’s Statement This bill adds new and modified reporting at the local and regional levels on compatibility of land use and transportation planning with greenhouse gas reduction goals and a proposal for a pilot program to create a network of bicycle highways. Although the bill seeks to improve transparency to the Sustainable Community Strategies process, it does not require or incentivize regional and local governments to make land use decisions that change development and transportation patterns. While I share the author’s goal to align policies and promote the use of active transportation modes such as walking and biking, the bill is not necessary because state agencies are already collaborating on these policies and updating local requirements. I proposed $7.6 billion to make key investments in a wide variety of critically necessary projects including high speed rail, transit connectivity projects in advance of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, active transportation, and a variety of other rail system improvements. Not only will these projects improve safety and access for bicyclists and pedestrians, they will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are key to meeting our state’s climate objectives. ASCE Position: Watch

AB 1238 (Ting – D) this bill would have repealed provisions of law prohibiting pedestrians from entering a roadway and specifies that pedestrians shall not be subject to a fine or criminal penalty for crossing or entering a roadway when no cars are present. Vetoed by Governor. Governor’s Statement I want to thank the author for bringing this important issue forward. Unequal enforcement of jaywalking laws and the use of minor offenses like it as a pretext to stop people of color, especially in under-resourced communities, is unacceptable and must be addressed. While I am committed to tackling this issue as part of our continued work to reduce excessive use of force and bias, I cannot support this bill in its current form. California has the highest total number of pedestrian fatalities in the nation and ranks 8th for pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 in population. According to data collected in the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, there has been an average of 3,500 traffic fatalities per year over the past five years and approximately 30 percent of those were pedestrian fatalities. During that time period, 63 percent of the crashes resulting in pedestrian fatalities were the result of pedestrians taking actions against traffic controls or safety laws. I am concerned that AB 1238 will unintentionally reduce pedestrian safety and potentially increase fatalities or serious injuries caused by pedestrians that enter our roadways at inappropriate locations.

AB 1499 (Daly – D) authorizes Caltrans and RTPAs to use the design-build procurement method for transportation projects in California until 2034. Signed by the Governor. – Chapter 212, Statutes of 2021. ASCE Position: Support

SB 83 (Allen – D) would have established the Sea Level Rise Revolving Loan Program through the collaboration primarily of the Coastal Conservancy and the I-Bank. Vetoed by the Governor. In Senate. Consideration of Governor’s veto pending. Governor’s Statement To the Members of the California State Senate: I am returning Senate Bill 83 without my signature. This bill requires the Ocean Protection Council to develop the Sea Level Rise Revolving Loan Program to provide low-interest loans to local jurisdictions to purchase coastal properties identified as vulnerable. Unfortunately, it does not comprehensively address the costly activities envisioned, likely to be carried out over decades. Climate-driven sea level rise presents major land-use planning challenges. The scope and scale of the problem, and the work necessary to make sure that California can adapt to rising seas, requires innovative planning approaches and implementation action at the state and local level. Financial tools, such as the one proposed in SB 83, have the potential to play an important role in a portfolio of strategies that will help build coastal resilience in California. However, such an effort should be considered within a comprehensive lens that evaluates properties to be included in a statewide plan. I encourage the author to continue to engage with my Administration as we work together to ensure California’s coastal communities and natural resources are resilient to sea level rise. ASCE Position: Watch

SB 273 (Hertzberg – D) authorizes a municipal wastewater agency to acquire, construct, expand, operate, maintain, and provide facilities to manage stormwater and dry weather runoff. Signed by the Governor. Chapter 241, Statutes of 2021. ASCE Position: Favor

SB 319 (Melendez – R) requires local agencies that do not comply with impact fee annual report requirements for three years to include each year they did not comply with these requirements in requested audits. Signed by the Governor. Chapter 385, Statutes of 2021. ASCE Position: Watch

SB 339 (Wiener – D) extends the California Road Charge Pilot Program from 2023 until 2027. This extension will allow the CTC and CalSTA to continue their study of the viability of a road charge, or a fee based on road usage, as a replacement for the current gas tax. Signed by the Governor. Chapter 308, Statutes of 2021. ASCE Position: Support

SB 403 (Gonzalez – D) authorizes the State Water Resources Control Board to order consolidation between a receiving water system and an at-risk water system under specified circumstances. Signed by the Governor. Chapter 242, Statutes of 2021. ASCE Position: Watch

SB 414 (Jones – R) extends the time that a local agency has to hear an appeal to 45 days after an appellant files a request, and makes conforming changes. SB 414 also creates a separate definition of “cadastral surveying” to mean a survey that creates, marks, defines, retraces, or reestablishes the boundaries and subdivisions of the public land of the United States, or any other field survey of a cadaster that is a public record, survey, or map of the extent and ownership of land. Signed by the Governor. Chapter 106, Statutes of 2021. ASCE Position: Favor

SB 427 (Eggman – D) allows water agencies and districts to adopt an ordinance with enhanced penalties for water theft. Signed by the Governor. Chapter 137, Statutes of 2021.

SB 44 (Allen – D) establishes expedited administrative and judicial review of environmental review and approvals granted for “environmental leadership transit projects” that meet specified requirements. Requires prevailing wages and apprentices on private projects authorized by the bill. Signed by the Governor. Chapter 633, Statutes of 2021. ASCE Position: Watch

SB 552 (Hertzberg – D) imposes drought and water shortage contingency planning requirements on state small water systems, counties, and specified state agencies. Signed by the Governor. Chapter 245, Statutes of 2021. ASCE Position: Support

SB 626 (Dodd – D) authorizes DWR to use the design-build and CM/GC processes for project delivery for facilities of the State Water Project, excluding through Delta conveyance. –Signed by the Governor. Chaptered by Secretary of State. Chapter 247, Statutes of 2021

SB 640 (Becker – D) authorizes local governments to sponsor local streets and roads projects to be jointly funded by the Road Repair and Accountability Act (SB 1, Beall, Chapter 5, Statutes of 2017). Signed by the Governor. Chapter 108, Statutes of 2021. ASCE Position: Support

SB 671 (Gonzalez – D) requires the CTC, in coordination with other state agencies, to develop a Clean Freight Corridor Efficiency Assessment and incorporate the recommendations into their respective programs for freight infrastructure; and codifies existing CTC guidelines for eligible projects for the Trade Corridor Enhancement Program (TCEP). Signed by the Governor ASCE Position: Watch

SB 776 (Gonzalez – D) makes changes to the statute that guides the implementation of the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water (SADW) Fund, including consolidating the State Water Resources Control Board’s authority to enforce the terms, conditions, and requirements of its financial assistance programs. Signed by the Governor. Chapter 187, Statutes of 2021.

Reports of Interest

The Legislative Analyst’s Office released “Reducing the Destructiveness of Wildfires: Promoting Defensible Space in California,” finds that efforts to enforce laws requiring homeowners “in certain areas at high risk of wildfires” to maintain zones around their homes free of “excess” vegetation are “complicated by the fragmented and overlapping nature of state and local responsibilities;” recommends state gather consistent data on defensible space inspections, increase funding for CalFire inspectors and support research on “strategies” to improve defensible space compliance.


Public Policy Institute of California released a policy brief that reports “Most Support California’s Leadership in Climate Change Policy,” cites its July survey and says “two in three adults and likely voters are in favor of the state government making its own policies, separate from the federal government, to address climate change;” also says 64% of likely voters support “the plan to ban the issuance of new fracking permits starting in 2024,” but “partisans disagree, with most Democrats and independents in favor and most Republicans opposed.”


Public Policy Institute of California released a report “Priorities for California’s Water,” finds successful implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act’s “sustainability plans have some serious gaps—too much emphasis on new supply, not enough on reducing demand and insufficient attention to problems like impacts on shallow wells and land subsidence” and “has not adequately included small communities threatened by drying wells;” also finds “2017 failure of the Oroville Dam spillways highlighted the need to upgrade existing infrastructure to better manage droughts and floods” and priorities for addressing upgrades include “dam safety, repairing existing conveyance systems (key for expanding groundwater recharge), dealing with the flood risks from deteriorating levees and sea level rise and upgrading water treatment systems.”


Legislative Analyst’s Office released “2022-23 Budget: California’s Fiscal Outlook,” forecasts: “state will have a $31 billion surplus to allocate in the upcoming fiscal year and operating surpluses ranging from $3 billion to $8 billion over the multiyear period;” also forecasts state will need to allocate about $14 billion of the projected surplus across fiscal years 2020-21 and 2021-22 to meet the constitutional requirements of the State Appropriation’s Limit; says to meet those requirements legislature can “(1) lower tax revenues; (2) split the excess revenues between additional school and community college district spending and taxpayer rebates or (3) appropriate more money for purposes excluded from the State Appropriation’s Limit.”


Appointments of Interest by the Governor

As deputy director for special initiatives, Dept. of Water ResourcesBianca Sievers, 31, Sacramento, no party preference, policy advisor to director of Dept. of Water Resources since 2018.

To Western States Water CouncilE. Joaquin Esquivel, 39, Sacramento, Democrat, chair of State Water Resources Control Board since 2019; Karla Nemeth, 51, Sacramento, Democrat, director, Dept. of Water Resources since 2018.

To the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Advisory Council and the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control ForumJoaquin Esquivel, 39, Sacramento, Democrat, chair of the Water Resources Control Board since 2019; Jessica Neuwerth, 31, Los Angeles, Democrat, deputy director at the Colorado River Board since 2020

Reappointed to the Colorado River Basin Regional Water Quality Control BoardNancy Wright, 71, Whitewater, Republican, co-owner at Peter Wright General Contractor since 1977.

To the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control BoardGloria Alvarado, 53, Santa Ana, Democrat, executive director at the Orange County Labor Federation since 2018; John Scandura, 64, Huntington Beach, Republican, former branch chief for the Site Mitigation and Restoration Program at the Dept. of Toxic Substances Control.

Reappointed to the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control BoardBetty Olson, 74, Trabuco Canyon, no party preference, professor emeritus in the Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the UC Irvine School of Engineering since 2018; Stefanie Warren, 43, San Diego, Democrat, partner at Trails Law Group since 2018.




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