This month's legislative session, which concludes August 31, includes no game changers like SB 375, but it does include a few bills related to land use and redevelopment that bear watching. 


Los Angeles Stadium CEQA Exemption

Over 100 organizations have signed on to a statement circulated by the Planning and Conservation League opposing a CEQA exemption for the development of a would-be NFL football stadium in downtown Los Angeles. The concerns have arisen in part because of an exemption granted to Majestic Realty in 2009 for its proposed stadium in the City of Industry and because of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's stated desire to grant exemptions to certain projects in the name of economic development. 

However, rumors about AEG's intentions are purely speculative, according to company officials. 

"We have progressed no further than researching and evaluating different alternatives," said Michael Roth, AEG's VP of communications. "We have not sought any legislation or announced any plans to pursue a stadium." Roth added that any stadium would still need to prepare an environmental impact report.  

PCL Legislative Director Tina Andolina said no bill has yet come forward but speculated that the exemption might come in the form of a budget amendment or a gut-and-amend. She said that AEG had hired lobbyists in Sacramento for the purpose of seeking the exemption, but that PCL could not confirm those reports. Roth said that the idea for the stadium is in such early phases that to yet call it a plan would be an exaggeration. 

Then again, in Andolina's analysis, publicity raised by PCL and its supporters might be the sort of action that would cause a developer to lay low or abandon an excemption request entirely. 

"When these things are done in the light of day," said Andolina, "they're typically killed because there's so much opposition to this type of underhanded political maneuvering." 

Assembly Bill 499 (Hill) 

Status: Senate Floor (Second Reading)

Assembly Bill 499 would make it more difficult for courts to dismiss legal challenges regarding CEQA on technicalities. Currently, confusion over which "real parties in interest" to list when a lawsuit is filed can lead to cases being dismissed before they are heard. AB 499 clarifies that the parties that must be named in a CEQA lawsuit for a particular project are those listed by the lead agency as "recipients of approval" for that project in the agencies' Notice of Exemption (NOE) or Notice of Determination (NOD). 



AB 1641 (Hall). Redevelopment: blighted areas

Status:  Senate Floor (second reading).

This bill would codify what critics have long contended about early public housing complexes: they inherently constitute blight. This bill would provide that blighted areas may be characterized by the existence of housing constructed as government-owned projects constructed prior to January 1, 1960. The bill would authorize a project in these areas to include the development of other housing, including privately owned housing units available to persons and families of low and moderate income and workforce market-rate housing units.


AB 2531 (Fuentes) Redevelopment: economic development

Status: Senate Local Government Committee

A game-changer that would allow redevelopment agencies to pay for business development and job programs, rather than just brick-and-mortar remedies for blight. Would have a sunset of January 1, 2018. 

See previous CP&DR coverage July 16, 2010


Disadvantaged Communities

SB 1174 (Wolk) Land use: general plan: Future Sustainable Communities Pilot Project.

Status: Assembly Appropriations Committee

This bill would creates the Future Sustainable Communities Pilot Project to pay for general plan updates for disadvantaged communities, using Proposition 84 bond funds. The bill would  authorize a city or county with a disadvantaged unincorporated community, inside or near its boundaries to apply to the Strategic Growth Council, as specified, to receive the financial assistance necessary to update its general plan to facilitate the transformation of the disadvantaged unincorporated community into a sustainable community. The bill would require the Strategic Growth Council to choose 5 cities and 5 counties with a disadvantaged unincorporated community inside or near their boundaries to receive financial assistance in order to promote sustainability in those communities.

SB 194 (Florez). Community Equity Investment Act of 2010. 

Status: Assembly Housing & Community Development Committee

Whereas the state currently collects and distributes Community Development Block Grant funds to communities of less than 50,000, this bill would extend that system to large "entitlement communities" as well. Those cities currently receiving CDBG funds directly from the federal department of Housing and Urban Development. It would impose various requirements on a 

local government in receipt of those funds that would, among other things, attempt to ensure the representation and participation of citizens of disadvantaged unincorporated communities.

AB 853 (Arambula) Local Government Organization

Status: Senate Floor, Second Reading

This bill would expand planning for, and expedites city annexations of, disadvantaged communities by identifying infrastructure deficits in municipal service reviews. This bill would also require the agency to include in its written statement a determination with respect to the location and characteristics, including infrastructure needs or deficiencies, or any disadvantaged inhabited communities, thereby imposing a state-mandated local program. The bill would also require a commission, upon the review and update of a sphere of influence on or after July 1, 2010, to include in the review or update of each sphere of influence of a city or special district that provides public facilities or services related to sewers, nonagricultural water, or structural fire protection to include the present and probable need for public facilities and services of disadvantaged inhabited communities. The current sticking point revolves around the costs that counties would have to bear in paying for the annexation application for disadvantaged communities. 


Miscellaneous Land Use

AB 987 (Ma) expands the maximum area of a transit village development district.  

Status:  Senate Floor.  

Based on emerging research that suggests that transit-riders are willing to habitually walk up to one-half mile in order to reach a high-frequency transit stop such as light rail or subway, this bill would double the current designation of a transit village development district to one-half mile from one-quarter mile. 

Assemblymember Ma introduced a similar bill last year that got veoted. In his veto message, Gov. Schwarzenegger indicated that he objected to a component of the bill that dealt with infrastructure financing districts. Ma has removed that component in this year's bill, which is intended to facilitate the sort of transit oriented development that SB 375 promotes. 

"If I was staffing this bill," said Peter Detwiler, Staff Director of the Senate Local Government Committee, "I would make the pitch that what's in this bill is consistent with the governor's commitment to densification." 

AB 2650 (Buchanan) Prohibits medical marijuana establishments within 600 feet of schools.  

Status:  Senate Appropriations Committee.

Even as cities across the state are implementing their own regulations to control – or prohibit – the sale of medical marijuana, AB 2650 would impose a statewide restriction with regards to schools. It would, however, grandfather any opposing local ordinance adopted before 2011. 

The League of California Cities has taken the position to oppose the bill unless it is amended, on the grounds that it would interfere with local control. 

AB 602 (Feuer). Land Use: Cause of Actions: Time Limitations

Status: Senate Floor (second reading)

Seeking to change a Court of Appeal (Urban Habitat v. City of Pleasanton), this bill would create an unlimited statute of limitations to challenge land use planning decisions regarding housing elements.   

See previous CP&DR coverage June 24, 2010