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Matt Vander Sluis

2016 Legislative Session Wrap-Up

California’s 2016 legislative session ended on September 30th with many successes for Greenbelt Alliance’s endorsements, but also with some disappointments. Here’s an overview:

Signed Into Law

AB 2031 (Bonta) allows cities to issue bonds for construction of new affordable homes based on the revenue stream of “boomerang funds,” which are funds received by cities and counties after the dissolution of redevelopment. This allows cities to build more homes faster to address the state’s housing affordability and displacement crisis.

AB 2087 (Levine) allows public agencies to create “Regional Conservation Investment Strategies” which help guide investments in resource conservation and protection of threatened and endangered species. This could help link project mitigation to larger conservation goals and strategies.

AB 2299 (Bloom) and SB 1069 (Wieckowski) will make it easier and less costly for homeowners to create an accessory dwelling unit (also known as a granny unit or in-law unit) in their backyards or as part of their existing homes.

SB 32 (Pavley) will continue California’s bold leadership in tackling climate change by requiring greenhouse gas emissions in the state to decrease by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. This builds upon AB 32, California’s landmark climate change law passed in 2006, which set a statewide greenhouse gas emission reduction requirement for 2020.

SB 1386 (Wolk) affirms that the protection and management of natural and agricultural lands is a key strategy in meeting the state’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, and therefore encourages investment in protection and restoration of these lands.

We’re also very excited about the Governor’s signature of SB 1000, which requires local governments to include an environmental justice (EJ) element in their General Plan. This law shoulder foster smarter land use decisions that improve air quality, promote food access, foster healthier homes, and enhance opportunities for physical activity for disadvantaged communities.

Sadly, the following did not make it to the governor’s desk.

AB 2817 (Chiu), as a reprise of last year’s vetoed AB 35, would have increased the value of the State Low Income Housing Tax Credit by $100 million per year for five years, increasing investment in the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing across the state.

AB 2502 (Mullin, Chiu), also known as the “Palmer Fix” and identical to last year’s vetoed AB 1229, would have affirmed the ability of local governments to implement inclusionary housing programs. These programs ensure that new housing developments include a certain percentage of affordable homes. They’ve been a vital tool for the provision of affordable homes across California.

SB 1318 (Wolk) would have prohibited a city or district from extending water infrastructure or services until it has extended these services to all disadvantaged communities within or adjacent to its sphere of influence.

AB 2444 (Garcia) would have given California voters the opportunity to approve a parks and natural resources bonds to fund water quality, coastal protection, and outdoor access improvement programs, and tackle the state’s deferred maintenance backlog for parks and recreation areas.

SB 879 (Beall) would have given California voters the opportunity to approve a statewide $3 billion bond for affordable housing to address the housing affordability crisis.

For the next legislative session, Greenbelt Alliance will continue pushing state leaders to pass laws that help the Bay Area (and the rest of California) grow in ways that make it more sustainable and affordable. If you’d like to learn more about any of these bills, contact Matt Vander Sluis.

This article was co-authored by Gabrielle Guidetti.

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