January 2019 – This Month in Sacramento

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Legislative Update
by Richard Markuson
Region 9 Legislative Advocate


State Legislation

The State Legislature were sworn into their respective offices on December 3, 2018 when they convened their 2019-2020 session. Constitutional officers including Governor-elect Gavin Newsom were sworn in on January 7, 2019.

Assembly Member Phil Ting (D – North Farallon Islands and parts of San Francisco) introduced AB 68 and AB 69, ostensibly to make it easier and faster for homeowners to build livable space in their backyards. According to the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, applications for ADU permits have jumped significantly since the Legislature eased some regulations, but homeowners still face challenges when it comes to building codes, limiting the full potential of ADUs.

Ting’s ADU bills aim to:

  • Speed up the approval process to 60 days
  • Prohibit restrictive local requirements pertaining to lot size and parking
  • Allow more types of units, such as units in multi-family dwellings, to be approved with less bureaucratic review
  • Create a Small Home Building Standards Code to make construction more cost-effective and safe

Senator Bill Dodd (D – Solano) has reintroduced his stream gage bill from last year that died because of cost. SB 919 would have required Department of Water Resources to develop a plan to deploy a network of stream gages, if funding is provided to develop the plan. Stream gages measure the hydrologic characteristics of a river or stream at a specific location. They can range from a measuring stick that shows the stage (elevation of the water surface) to automatic gages that measure and transmit highly accurate information on elevation, flow rate, temperature, turbidity, and other water quality indicators. His new bill is SB 19 and it would require the DWR and the board to give priority in the plan to placing or modernizing and reactivating stream gages where lack of data contributes to conflicts in water management or where water can be more effectively managed for multiple benefits and to consider specified criteria in developing the plan. Dodd noted, “We’re faced with a constant cycle of droughts and flooding, and this bill is an important step toward managing our water for the long run. Stream gages provide important information. Unfortunately, gaps in the current system make it difficult to ensure water is going where it’s needed. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”



New Reports of Interest

Public Policy Institute of California has released its report, “Financing Higher Education Capital Projects,” finds “economic pressures and policy decisions have led California to underinvest in higher education infrastructure over the past decade, ballooning deferred maintenance backlogs across all three systems,” says: “Estimates reported by UC, CSU and community colleges reflect that facility modernization and maintenance could cost more than $50 billion through 2022-23.”

California State Auditor’s office releases report, “California Public Utilities Commission: It Could Improve the Transparency of Water Rate Increases by Disclosing Its Review Process and Ensuring That Utilities Notify Customers as Required,” recommendations include: “By May 2019, the CPUC should begin to publish after each general rate case a summary of why, and by how much, water rates will change as a result of the proceeding.”

The Legislative Analyst’s Office has released “Assessing California’s Climate Policies—An Overview,” summarizes “different types of economic effects on state climate policies” including the benefits of Green House Gas reductions, identifies key issues for the Legislature to consider for future climate change policy design, including recommendations to “use economywide carbon pricing to achieve low-cost GHG reductions” and “establish a robust system for climate policy evaluation” to ensure “more complete information about the effects of state climate policies.”

LAO also released “Assessing California’s Climate Policies—Transportation,” reviews “available information on the effects of policies aimed at reducing Green House Gas emission from the transportation sector,” says light-duty passenger vehicles are the largest source of GHG emissions, finds emissions “declined from 2006 to 2016, but have increased slightly in recent years,” also finds “overall effects of the state’s policies aimed at reducing transportation GHGs are largely unclear” and the “large number of policies targeting transportation emissions creates challenges.”

Water Research Foundation released Wildfire Impacts on Drinking Water Treatment Process Performance: Development of Evaluation Protocols and Management Practices. Seeking to understand the effects of wildfire on water quality and treatability, as well as the effects on treatment plant costs and operation, the research team set out to accomplish three tasks: “evaluate the effects of a wildfire on a particular treatment operation; simulate post-fire runoff using conventional processes; and evaluate the best treatment practices to deal with wildfire-impacted source waters.” The report includes a framework for utilities to assess the impacts of wildfire on water quality and treatment, and also recommendations “made around the design and operation of treatment systems for utilities threatened by wildfire.” (Public Works, Nov. 28, 2018).

Transport Reviews released Impacts of Automated Vehicles on Travel Behavior and Land Use: An International Review of Modelling Studies. “This paper provides a comprehensive review of modelling studies investigating the impacts of AVs on travel behavior and land use. It shows that AVs are mostly found to increase vehicle miles travelled and reduce public transport and slow modes share. This particularly applies to private AVs, which are also leading to a more dispersed urban growth pattern. Shared automated vehicle fleets, conversely, could have positive impacts, including reducing the overall number of vehicles and parking spaces. Moreover, if it is assumed that automation would make the public transport system more efficient, AVs could lead to a favoring of urbanization processes. However, results are very sensitive to model assumptions which are still very uncertain.”

Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago released Introducing the Air Quality Life Index. “People could add years to their lives in California and other smog-plagued parts of the world if authorities could reduce particulate pollution – soot from cars and industry…. No other large U.S. city would benefit more than Fresno, which has soot concentrations at roughly twice the WHO [World Health Organization] guidelines. Fresno residents would live a year longer if the region could meet the health organization’s recommended levels of exposure…. The average Los Angeles resident could add eight months of life. The average Sacramento resident would add nearly three.”

Senate Office of Research released Climate Change and Health: Understanding how Global Warming Could Impact Public Health in California. “Public health is strongly affected by environmental conditions Therefore, the environmental changes resulting from global climate change have important implications for public health, as do the strategies used to mitigate harmful impacts of climate change…. The first part of the report describes the state of climate change in California and possible effects on human health. The second part is a detailed summary of research showing how California’s population already is affected by extreme heat and other suboptimal environmental conditions that could worsen with climate change.”



Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. made the following appointments:

Sean Maguire of Carmichael has been appointed to the California State Water Resources Control Board. Maguire has been supervising water resources control engineer at the State Water Resources Control Board since 2017, where he was senior water resources control engineer from 2015 to 2017. He held several positions at Kennedy/Jenks Consultants from 2003 to 2015, including water resources practice leader, senior associate engineer and senior staff engineer. Maguire is a member of the Groundwater Resources Association of California.

Daniel Millsap of Folsom, has been appointed deputy of the Capital Outlay Program at the California Conservation Corps. Millsap has been project director at the California Department of General Services since 2018. He served in several positions as a construction supervisor at the California Department of Parks and Recreation from 2007 to 2018. Millsap was project manager at 4leaf Inc. from 2006 to 2007, regional health and safety supervisor and staff engineer at Kennedy/Jenks Consultants from 2002 to 2006 and a staff engineer at Kleinfelder from 2001 to 2002. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.



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