October 2019 – This Month in Sacramento

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Legislative Update
by Richard Markuson
Region 9 Legislative Advocate


The Legislature returned from its’ summer recess and entered its’ final five weeks of session – which will conclude on September 13.

Status Report on ASCE’s Bills of Interest

AB 48 by O’Donnell (D – Long Beach) This bill places a $13 billion general obligation bond measure on the March 3, 2020 primary ballot and an unspecified general obligation bond measure on the November 8, 2022 general election, to be operative only if approved by voters at their respective statewide elections. It also makes changes to the existing School Facility Program (SFP). Senate Rules Committee. Support

AB 65 by Petrie –Norris (D – Laguna Beach) This bill requires the California State Coastal Conservancy (SCC) to prioritize projects that provide natural infrastructure and multiple public benefits when allocating funding from the California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2018 (Proposition 68). Awaiting final Senate passage.

AB 101 by Committee on Budget This is the Housing trailer bill for 2019 –20. It contains the necessary changes related to the 2019 Budget Act. Chaptered

AB 252 by Daly (D – Anaheim) This bill removes sunset provisions that provides the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) the authority to carry out the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Assignment Program. Support Chaptered

AB 292 by Quirk (D – Hayward) This bill changes 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 the distinction between “direct” potable reuse and “indirect” potable reuse. Senate Inactive File.

AB 305 by Nazarian (D – North Hollywood) AB 305 allows wastewater utilities to issue rate reduction bonds and makes numerous changes to the process of issuing those bonds. Enrolled.

AB 508 by Chu (D – San Jose) This bill makes changes to statute related to the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB’s) authority to order the consolidation of drinking water systems, including setting a deadline of July 1, 2020, as the date by which the SWRCB must develop a policy that provides a process for members of a disadvantaged community to petition for consolidation; and requiring the SWRCB, before ordering consolidation or extension of service, to notify owners and occupants of dwelling units that are reliant on a domestic well with unsafe drinking water about the adequacy and safety of the unit’s drinking water. Awaiting final Senate passage.

AB 587 by Friedman (D – Glendale) This bill allows for an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to be sold or conveyed separately from the primary residence to a qualified buyer under specified circumstances. Senate Floor Amendments of 8/21/19 align affordability restrictions with existing law by requiring owner –occupied units on the property to be preserved for low –income housing for 45 years. Awaiting final Senate passage.

AB 670 by Friedman (D – Glendale) Makes any covenant, restriction, or condition contained in any deed, contract, security instrument, or other instrument affecting the transfer or sale of any interest in a planned development instrument and provision in a governing document or an amendment to a governing document of a common interest development (CID) that either effectively prohibits or unreasonably restricts the installation of an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) or junior accessory dwelling unit (JADU) in a single –family, planned development void and unenforceable. Allows for “reasonable restrictions” on ADUS and JADUS Enrolled.

AB 756 by Garcia, Cristina (D – Bell Garden) Authorizes the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) to order one or more public water systems to monitor for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluroalkyl substances (PFAS) and establishes a separate public notification process as a result of any confirmed detection(s). Chaptered

AB 782 by Berman (D – Palo Alto) Codifies the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) categorical exemption for transfers of ownership of interests in land in order to preserve open space, habitat, or historical resources, thereby eliminating the exceptions for project –specific effects which apply to a categorical exemption. Enrolled.

AB 1413 by Gloria (D – San Diego) This bill authorizes local transportation authorities in Placer and San Diego Counties, which have existing transactions and use tax (TUT) authority, to levy a TUT in any portion of its jurisdiction, with voter approval. Awaiting final Senate passage.

AB 1414 by Friedman (D – Glendale) Existing law, last session’s SB 606 (Hertzberg), Chapter 14, Statutes of 2018, and AB 1668 (Friedman), Chapter 15, Statutes of 2018, requires urban retail water suppliers to calculate an urban water use objective no later than November 1, 2023, and annually thereafter, and establishes other reporting requirements. Some of those reports are due January 1, some are due before June, some are due October 1, and others due November 1. This bill realigns the various reporting dates established in last session’s SB 606 and AB 1668 so that all reports required by those bills are due on either July 1 or January 1, and makes other minor technical amendments. Enrolled.

AB 1475 by Bauer –Kahan (D – Orinda) This bill authorizes regional transportation agencies (RTAs) to use the construction manager/general contractor (CM/GC) procurement method on any transportation project that is not on the state highway system. Enrolled

AB 1633 by Grayson (D – Concord) This bill authorizes cities with the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to develop and implement a traffic signal optimization plan to reduce travel times, number of stops, and fuel use. Senate Floor Amendments of 8/21/19 strike reducing “emission of greenhouse gases, criteria air pollutants, and toxic air contaminants” from the list of goals of the traffic signal optimization plans, thereby narrowing their focus to reducing “travel times, the number of stops, and fuel use.” Awaiting final Senate passage.

ACA 1 by Aguiar –Curry (D – Winters) Proposes amendments to the California Constitution to allow a city, county, or special district, with 55% voter approval, to incur bonded indebtedness or impose specified special taxes to fund projects for affordable housing, permanent supportive housing, or public infrastructure. Support Assembly Floor.

SB 128 by Beall (D – San Jose) Senate Bill 128 extends the existing best –value contracting pilot program until January 1, 2025. The bill also changes the date that a participating county must submit a report to the Legislature to March 1, 2024, and adds Santa Clara and Monterey counties to the existing pilot program Awaiting final Senate passage.

SB 134 by Hertzberg (D – Van Nuys) This bill prohibits the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) from issuing an information order, written notice or conservation order for a violation of water loss performance standards if water loss is the only objective not being met, and if the State Water Board is already taking enforcement action for water losses as part of an urban water use objective. Chaptered.

SB 197 by Beall (D – San Jose) This bill removes the Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) sunset provision relative to withholding retention proceeds on public contracts Support Awaiting final Assembly passage.

SB 690 by Hueso (D – San Diego) Requires the State Coastal Conservancy, when expending any funds for the purposes of addressing transboundary flows and pollution in the Tijuana River Valley, to the extent feasible, to prioritize those projects identified in studies on the Tijuana River Valley that are required by statute. Awaiting final Assembly passage.

SJR 5 by Beall (D – San Jose) Urges the Congress and the President of the United States to take action on legislation to fund the nation’s transportation infrastructure. Support Awaiting final Senate passage.


New Reports of Interest 

Solar Energy released Overbuilding & Curtailment: the Cost –effective Enablers of Firm PV Generation. “New research published in the peer –reviewed journal Solar Energy suggests California should embrace the idea of building more solar panels than it can consistently use, rather than treating oversupply as a problem to be solved. It sounds counterintuitive, but intentionally overbuilding solar facilities—and accepting they’ll often need to be dialed down in the absence of sufficient demand—may be the best way to keep electricity prices low on a power grid dominated by renewable energy, the research found.” However, other analysts maintain this study “didn’t take into account the costly transmission lines that may be needed to accommodate an overbuild of solar, or the landowner opposition that has frustrated solar farm developers in California and elsewhere.” (Los Angeles Times, June 5, 2019).

The National Bureau of Economic Research released Social Connectedness in Urban Areas. Social connectedness is an important aspect of the social capital that provides important emotional and health benefits as well as economic resiliency. In this study of the spatial structure of social networks in the New York metro area, the available evidence indicates that access to public transit is a significant factor in the strength and diversity of an individual’s social connectedness. In fact, the ease of access to public transit was a “substantially stronger predictor of social connectedness between zip codes than geographic distance.”

State Investments in Clean Energy and Transportation Technology. This report provides a high –level overview of California’s investments in clean energy. It describes the stages of new technology along a five –step “pipeline” of development: fundamental research; applied research; prototype products; demonstration of the prototype; and commercial deployment. The report estimates that in FY 2018 –19, “state investments in clean energy and transportation technology are primarily in the commercial deployment stage of development, where the programs have a pulling influence on moving technology through the pipeline.”

Effects of Fossil Fuel and Total Anthropogenic Emission Removal on Public Health and Climate. A recent study finds that phasing out fossil fuels would prevent about 3.6 million premature deaths. “If we reduced the impact of all sources of anthropogenic pollution (including things like agriculture), the researchers calculate, the number of deaths prevented per year would jump to 5.6 million…. They find that, in particular, rapidly reducing fine particulate matter in the atmosphere could greatly reduce health impacts of exposure to air pollution, which include cardiovascular disease, asthma, and lung cancer…. The study finds that aerosols have masked (that is, dampened the effect of) global warming by about 0.5 degrees Celsius. That effect has been particularly pronounced in areas of North America and northeast Asia, where researchers find that up to two degrees of warming has been masked.” (Pacific Standard, Apr. 17, 2019).

Nature Based Designs to Mitigate Urban Heat: The Efficacy of Green Infrastructure Treatments in Portland, Oregon. Urban heat, when coupled with climate change impacts, represents a growing concern in city planning. One potential response is to mitigate heat island effects by making alterations to the built environment. These changes can include designing increase vegetation and tree cover, the use of reflective materials, and green roofs. The study found that the effectiveness of each intervention varied across the specific land –use types. Instead of a single mitigation solution, planners will need to adopt multiple strategies that target specific climates and landscaped environments.


Governor’s Appointments

As deputy secretary for environmental policy and housing coordination at the California State Transportation AgencyDarwin Moosavi, Sacramento, special advisor to the secretary of the CA State Transportation Agency since 2019.

To the California Water CommissionTeresa Alvarado, San Jose, San Jose director of SPUR since 2016; Matthew Swanson, Turlock, President and CEO at Associated Feed since 1998

As chief counsel, High –Speed Rail AuthorityAlicia Fowler, Sacramento, deputy secretary and general counsel at the California State Transportation Agency since 2015.

As chief of strategic communications, High –Speed Rail AuthorityMelissa Figueroa, West Sacramento, deputy secretary of communications and strategic planning at the California State Transportation Agency since 2015.

As director of planning and sustainability, High –Speed Rail AuthorityMargaret Cederoth, Sacramento, sustainability director and practice leader at WSP, a construction management firm that contracts with High –Speed Rail Authority.

As director of engineering, High –Speed Rail AuthorityChristine Inouye, Sacramento, undersecretary at the California State Transportation Agency since 2017.

As director, California Office of Traffic SafetyBarbara Rooney, Elk Grove, deputy director of legislation at the California High –Speed Rail Authority since 2015.


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