Three bills that would have established "green" building standards for housing, commercial structures and state government buildings were vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The governor also vetoed a controversial planning bill that would have limited cities' ability to satisfy regional fair-share mandates with non-residentially zoned properties. In addition, the governor rejected a bill that would have placed new requirements on mobile home park conversions to resident-owned subdivisions, and a bill that would have mandated additional disclosure of economic development subsidies.
Overall, Schwarzenegger vetoed 214 of the 964 bills (22%) sent to him by the Legislature, according to Peter Detwiler, staff director for the Senate Local Government Committee. Schwarzenegger has consistently vetoed more than 20% of bills that reached him, a higher percentage than any governor of the last 40 years.
While the governor has attempted to bolster his standing among environmentalists, he rejected the three green building bills because, he said, they took the wrong approach. The bills were AB 1058 (Laird), which would have required the Building Standards Commission and the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to adopt green standards for residential structures by 2010; AB 888 (Lieu), which would have required commercial buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's "gold" standard by 2013; and AB 35 (Ruskin), which would have mandated the gold standard for new and renovated state government buildings.
In his veto messages, Schwarzenegger said he supports "development of green building standards." But, echoing the California Building Industry Association, the governor said neither private entities such as the Green Building Council nor state lawmakers should determine the building standards. Instead, Schwarzenegger said, "I am directing the California Building Standards Commission to work with specified state agencies on the adoption of green building standards for residential, commercial and public construction for the 2010 code adoption process."
While the green building vetoes generated substantial publicity, Schwarzenegger's rejection of AB 414 (Jones) was of interest primarily to city planners and affordable housing advocates. The bill would have permitted cities and counties to count only 50% of the potential housing units in commercial zones for the purpose of meeting fair-share affordable housing numbers. Housing advocates said the bill was necessary to prevent local governments from using dual zoning — mixed-use or commercial areas where housing is permitted — to fulfill all of their Regional Housing Needs Assessment affordable housing mandate. Planners and cities countered that the bill would discourage infill, promote sprawl and limit local flexibility — a message that appears to have reached Schwarzenegger. In his veto message, the governor said HCD should evaluate housing elements on a case-by-case basis.
Other land use bills receiving vetoes:
• AB 1542 (Evans). The bill would have amended the Subdivision Map Act to impose new requirements on the conversion of mobile home parks to resident-owned subdivisions. Park residents and affordable housing advocates contend the conversions are a way to skirt local rent control regulations. The governor expressed some understanding but said "mobile home issues require a comprehensive approach."
• AB 1091 (Bass). The bill would have altered criteria for awarding $300 million in transit-oriented development housing funds by requiring developments to be within one-half mile — rather than one-quarter mile — of a transit station. The governor said the looser standard "could substantially reduce the effectiveness of this program."
• SB 103 (Cedillo). The measure would have required local agencies to prepare a report, conduct hearings and post information on their websites regarding any economic development subsidy worth at least $100,000. Schwarzenegger said local governments "already provide sufficient information" about such subsidies, and the bill would add to government expense and delay projects.
• AB 1743 (Huffman). The bill would have delayed construction on a planned death row project at San Quentin State Prison until after the state studies possible alternative sites. Many locals would like to see the 40-acre site in question used for a transit station or affordable housing. The governor, however, said lawmakers earlier concluded San Quentin is the best place for the project, and delays only add $1 million a month to the $340 million project.
• AB 1219 (Jones). This district bill would have permitted the state to make deals with the City of Sacramento to provide for development of The Docks mixed-use project along the Sacramento River, and for redevelopment of the rail yards adjacent to downtown. Schwarzenegger said he was open to selling state land but only if the deals were exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act; otherwise, the state would incur additional costs.
The governor did sign a number of land use measures:
• AB 1053 (Nuñez). Drafted during the last hours of the session, this bill makes business improvement districts eligible for Proposition 1C housing funds for infrastructure. The speaker carried the bill on behalf of developer AEG, which wants to tap the funds for an entertainment-oriented mixed-use project in downtown Los Angeles.
• AB 641 (Torrico). The bill permits affordable housing developers to delay paying development fees until the certificate of occupancy stage.
• AB 1259 (Caballero). This measure extends by a year the deadline for jurisdictions in the Monterey Bay Area Governments region to submit updated housing elements. The new deadline is June 30, 2009.
• SB 2 (Cedillo). A compromise among local governments and homeless advocates, the bill requires cities and counties to identify specific sites for homeless shelters and not impose on transitional and supportive housing projects any restrictions beyond those that apply to any residential project.
• AB 373 (Wolk). This bill overhauls the Mello-Roos Community Facilities District law and the school facilities improvement district law.
• SB 162 (Negrete McLeod). Under this measure, local agency formation commissions must consider environmental justice when deciding on boundary changes.
The governor also signed six flood control and land use planning measures