October 11 marked the end of the 2015 California legislative session. Greenbelt Alliance endorsed a lot of bills (and opposed one: AB 779). Below is a run-down of how they fared.
Signed Into Law
AB 744 will allow low-income housing developments within one-half mile of a major transit stop to be exempt from minimum parking requirements. Building parking is expensive; reducing parking requirements lowers the cost of affordable housing. More on AB 744
Under AB 498, any developer proposing a project in a wildlife corridor must take concrete steps to promote, protect, or restore the function of the wildlife corridor. More on AB 498
Signed Into Law… With Caveats
SB 350 will require California to get 50% of its energy from renewable energy sources and increase building efficiency by 50% by 2030. This is great news for the climate, but we’re disappointed that successful lobbying by the oil industry led to a key provision—reducing petroleum use by 50%—being removed from the final bill. More on SB 350
Passed by Legislature But Vetoed by Governor
AB 35 would have increased investment in construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing across the California by increasing state housing tax credits. Governor Brown vetoed this bill out of concern for its impact on the state budget—we hope the governor will address funding for affordable housing as part of the 2016 budget process. More on AB 35
Didn’t Pass in 2015 But Might Stand a Chance in 2016
SB 317 would provide funds for protection of agricultural and natural areas and would also create and expand neighborhood parks in underserved communities. More on SB 317
SB 32 would set a statewide greenhouse gas reduction target of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 and authorize interim targets for 2030 and 2040. Adopting these long-term targets would drive new state policies to ensure that long-term land-use plans help reduce emissions caused by driving and focus growth in walkable neighborhoods near transit. More on SB 32
AB 761 would provide incentives to use California farmland for capturing and sequestering greenhouse gases while creating additional water, habitat, and economic benefits for farmers. Incentivizing the adoption of sustainable farming practices can help prevent conversion of farmland into sprawl development.
AB 1335, the Building Homes and Jobs Act, would generate additional funds for the development and preservation of affordable homes for Californians on fixed incomes and create tens of thousands of well-paying jobs. More on AB 1335
SB 367 would provide funding for farmers who reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through projects that provide environmental and health benefits. More on SB 367
AB 1360 would allow Transportation Network Companies (such as Uber and Lyft) to charge individual fares for shared rides with other passengers—legalizing paid carpooling. An increase in carpooling will reduce demand for individual car ownership, thus reducing demand for parking and other auto-oriented infrastructure.
SCA 5 would annually assess commercial and industrial properties to tie their tax rates more closely to their current market value. This would increase local government revenues generated by property taxes and reduce the pressure that local governments feel to “chase” sales tax revenue by giving preference to commercial developments over new homes.
Didn’t Pass in 2015 and Hopefully Won’t in 2016 Either
We’re disappointed that AB 779 may come back during the next legislative session. AB 779 would delay implementation of SB 743 and be a major setback for infill development. Passed in 2013, SB 743 changes how transportation impacts of development projects are evaluated to better reflect how environmentally-friendly infill development leads to less driving and less pollution. Delaying the implementation of SB 743 would make it more difficult for good infill projects to move forward. More on AB 779
For the next legislative session, Greenbelt Alliance will continue pushing state leaders to pass laws that make the Bay Area (and the rest of California) a better place to live for everyone. If you’d like to learn more about any of these bills, contact Stephanie Reyes.
This article was co-authored by Monica Van Luven.
Photo: Steve Rhodes via Flickr