State Policy Roundup: What a Week It’s Been!

It’s been a make-or-break week for land use and transportation legislation in Sacramento, ending with a dramatic vote on high speed rail.  As the Legislature packs up its bags and heads off to summer recess, here is our rundown of the week’s highs and lows--

High Speed Rail Plan Passed by Legislature
“This is the wrong way and the wrong place to start implementing this vision.” Senator DeSaulnier

“Risk can be measured in many different ways.  We have a chance now to do something that people generations from now will thank us for.” Senator Steinberg

The drama surrounding California’s latest plan for high speed rail has been building for months and culminated in this afternoon’s climactic Senate vote.  After an intense flurry of last-minute negotiations, the plan, SB 1029, squeaked through with 21 votes in support and 17 against. Senators Simitian, Lowenthal, DeSaulnier and Pavley joined Republicans in voting against the plan, while the remainder of Democrats voted for it.

Here’s how the final plan allocates the $8 billion in state and federal funds:

– $5.8 billion for construction of the Initial Operating Segment (IOS) of the High-Speed Rail System in the Central Valley.
– $1.1 billion for “Bookend” funding for improvements in the San Francisco Peninsula and the Los Angeles Basin.
– $819 million for “Connectivity” funding for improvements on existing rail regional and inter-city systems to improve connectivity to the High-Speed Rail System.
– $252.5 million for design, planning, and right-of-way acquisition activities for the High-Speed Rail System.

Parking reform bill dies
Just minutes before a key vote on Tuesday, Asm. Nancy Skinner rescinded AB 904, the parking reform bill sponsored by the California Infill Builders Federation.  This move ends the bill’s prospects for this year, but retains the ability to reintroduce a similar concept next year.  Skinner has already announced that she intends to reintroduce the bill next year.

AB 904 would have made it more difficult for cities to impose onerous parking requirements on new development in transit-rich neighborhoods. It was supported by several ClimatePlan partners including MoveLA, NRDC and TransForm.

California cities were divided over the bill, with some cities embracing the bill as an opportunity to fix outmoded parking requirements.  Opposition came from other cities who joined with the APA to oppose the bill based on concerns that the bill doesn’t provide enough flexibility to opt-out.  Read CPDR’s analysis here.

Bill to steer cap and trade revenues advances
The Legislature continues to push forward with a variety of bills to shape the allocation of cap and trade revenue. The bill enjoying the most support from advocates is a bill by Speaker Perez , AB 1532, which directs ARB to develop an expenditure plan for review by the Legislature. This bill continued its advance this week, passing out of Senate policy committees.  When the Legislature reconvenes in August, the bill will go to Senate Appropriations and, if it passes there, then on to a full vote of the Senate.

This bill includes language encouraging ARB to direct funds to, among other things:

– “Investments in low-carbon transportation and infrastructure, including . . . public transportation and sustainable transportation and infrastructure development . . .
– “Local and regional sustainable development efforts that are, to the extent applicable, consistent with the sustainable communities strategy or alternative planning strategy . . .
– “Investments in natural resource protection, including, but not limited to, any of the following:

(A) Natural resource management programs and projects.
(B) Land conservation and restoration.
(C) Development and implementation of sustainable agriculture, forestry, and related water, land, and resource management practices.”

Redevelopment 2.0 continues to advance
SB 1156, Senator Steinberg’s bill to reinvent redevelopment, continues to inch forward.  This legislation tweaks existing redevelopment law to allow local governments to establish a “Sustainable Communities Investment Authority” to finance redevelopment-type activities in areas around transit. This week SB 1156 passed the Assembly policy committees.  Its next stop after the Legislature’s summer recess, is Assembly Appropriations, and if it succeeds there it will go to a full vote of the Assembly.


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