The Legislature returns on Monday from their summer recess and with just one more month left in the 2015-2016 legislative session, let’s get right back into the best and worst bill nominees.
Budget Trailer Bill 707: California is one of the few states that doesn’t have “by right” housing protocols; that is that as long as development plans comply with existing zoning ordinances and land use rules, development permits only need administrative review, not “political review” – i.e. approval by planning/zoning/environmental commissions and city councils. The longer and more uncertain the process, the less development occurs. This is bad news when California is facing an economically-debilitating housing affordability crisis. Governor Brown has proposed Budget Trailer Bill 707, which creates “by right” protocols if certain parameters are met. Brown’s proposal is far from perfect, but would help encourage development. As adding supply is the only long-term solution to California’s housing woes, action like this is needed. I tentatively put this trailer bill in the “best” section, however. It looks like Big Labor and Big Environment may use their substantial clout over the Legislature to force amendments – such as prevailing wage and CEQA mandates – which would render this proposal ineffective. If Republicans are smart, they’d team up with the Governor and Mod Dems to pass the proposal, eliminating Big Labor and Big Environment’s bargaining chips.
SB 32 and AB 197: Both these bills need to pass for them to go into effect. SB 32 is Fran Pavely’s “AB 32-on-steroids,” requiring the Air Resources Board to adopt rules to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions of 40% of 1990 levels by 2030. It lacked support in 2015 and was pulled from consideration, but is back. AB 197 is a gut-and-amend bill. It would create the Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies and make changes to the responsibilities and composition of the Air Resources Board. First, AB 197 appears to be a solution in search of a problem, which makes it superfluous legislation. Secondly, with AB 32 in the midst of legal problems and challenges and its effectiveness seriously in question, I don’t think the Legislature should be doubling-down on it right now. Both these bills are more about government bureaucracy and politics than solving a policy problem.
From California Realpolitik.