While it seemed as if Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed every land use bill besides SB 375, he did in fact sign several pieces of legislation. Although some bills are minor in nature, some pieces of legislation make important changes to aspects of the general plan law, authorize funding for courthouses and parks, and even ease development of a mixed-use project on the Sacramento waterfront.

Here's a look at some of the more important land use bills that the governor signed:

• AB 31 (de Leon). Allocates $400 million from Proposition 84 parks money for a competitive grant program targeted at park-poor communities.

• AB 1358 (Leno). Requires cities and counties to include in circulation element updates provisions for "complete streets." The requirement is effective with updates adopted after January 1, 2011. "Complete streets" are those that provide for bicyclists, pedestrians, disabled people and others besides motorists. The bill also requires the Governor's Office of Planning and Research to update the General Plan Guidelines.

• AB 1451 (Leno). Extends an existing property tax exemption for new construction of solary energy systems and solar power generation projects until 2016. The bill enjoyed strong support from utilities and alternative energy supporters, but it was opposed by Kern County supervisors. A $1 billion, 250 megawatt solar energy facility is planned for eastern Kern County.

• AB 2026 (Villines). Authorizes the California Department of Parks and Recreation to sell two acres on the Sacramento River waterfront to the City of Sacramento, and exempts the transaction from the California Environmental Quality Act. The property is essential for "The Docks" project, which proposes 1,100 housing units and 500,000 square feet of office and retail space along the river just south of the Tower Bridge.

• AB 2069 (Jones). Tightens the no-net-loss provisions to prevent decreases in potential housing sites. Some jurisdictions zone land for mixed-use development, and count potential housing development in those zones in their housing element's inventory of available residential sites. This bill requires jurisdictions that approve commercial development in these zones to take steps to ensure that adequate sites remain available to meet the jurisdictions' fair-share housing obligations. The governor vetoed a similar bill last year.

• AB 2280 (Saldaña). Clarifies recent changes to the density bonus law. The density bonus law permits development of up to 35% more units than zoning allows if a certain percentage of units are available to low-income households. As originally introduced, AB 2280 overhauled the law. But the bill was watered down to the point where it makes mostly minor, technical amendments to the law in order to prevent disputes between developers and local governments over the size of density bonuses and other incentives.

• AB 2494 (Caballero). Places $200 million of Proposition 1C park funding with the Department of Housing and Community Development. The bill settles a dispute over whether HCD or Parks and Recreation should allocate the money. Housing advocates argued that HCD should be in control because the funding is supposed to be tied to production of affordable housing units.

• AB 2921 (Laird). Amends the procedures for rescinding Williamson Act contracts and for addressing contract breaches. Five years ago, the Legislature authorized the Department of Conservation (DOC) to identify and respond to breaches, which typically result from development of protected agricultural land. This bill modifies the DOC procedures.

• SBX2 1 (Perata). Directs existing bond funds to programs and projects intended to stabilize the Bay Delta and increase water supply reliability through projects other than new dams.

• SB 187 (Ducheny). Authorizes implementation of a pilot project for Salton Sea restoration. The state budget includes $17.8 million for the project (see CP&DR Environment Watch, September 2007). 

• SB 732 (Steinberg). Creates the Sustainable Communities Council to coordinate state programs and allocates Proposition 84 monies to fund sustainable community planning.

• SB 1065 (Correa). Allows cities and counties to use revenue bonds to refinance mortgages on owner-occupied homes for households earning up to 150% of median income. The League of California Cities and the California Association of Realtors were among the supporters.

• SB 1407 (Perata). Authorizes the sale of $5 billion in lease-revenue bonds to fund courthouse construction, renovation and repair. The bill also raises criminal and civil fees and fines to pay off the bonds.  

• SB 1681 (Battin). Overhauls and streamlines the process by which the Department of General Services (DGS) disposes of surplus state property. Sponsored by DGS, the bill provides local governments and nonprofit housing developers with easier access to surplus state lands.

- Paul Shigley