1:10 p.m. - 2:50 p.m. Thursday, May 5, 2011 Sacramento, California
Land Use & Environment Committee Mission Statement: This Committee is a Policy committee. Its mission is to develop C.A.R.'s land use and environmental policy. It has original jurisdiction to evaluate legislation and regulation in the following issue areas as they relate to real estate: Environmental, Land Use and Zoning, Property Rights, Resources, and Subdivision and Development.
Staff Coordinator: Elizabeth Gavric Federal Committee Staff: Matthew Roberts
I. Welcome and Opening Remarks - Greg Haas, Chair
II. Action Item* - Georgia Richardson a. AB 37 (Huffman) Smart Meters IBP
III. Environmental – Nick Zigic, Issue Chair a. AB 685 (Eng) – State Water Policy – Watch. Part of a 6-bill package, AB 685 (Eng) makes the human right to water a policy of the state. More than 11.5 million Californians rely on water suppliers that faced at least one violation of State Drinking Water Standards. In several communities throughout the state the sole water supply is contaminated, leaving families who are unable to afford treatment often left entirely without safe water. In addition to public health threats, Californians are faced with rising water bills to treat contamination and upgrade old infrastructure, which if neglected could even offset the benefits of treatment. California does not have a universal statewide lifeline water rate or allocation – similar to our lifeline rates for energy and phone service – so when costs become excessive, families cannot pay their bills and, thereby, they risk losing water service entirely. This bill sets forth the basic human right to a safe and clean water supply. b. Naturally Occurring Asbestos Regulations. C.A.R. is part of a coalition of public and private organizations also representing the construction materials and building industries, labor, manufacturing, forestry, agriculture, geologists, and scientists and engineers. Coalition members have been directly and indirectly affected by the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) control regulations for many years. A central component of these regulations is Test Method 435 (M435), which is the laboratory test method used to determine whether NOA concentrations in a bulk sample of soil or rock meet CARB’s 0.25 percent regulatory trigger. The coalition is currently working with CARB on defining laboratory qualifications, sample preparation procedures, laboratory analysis procedures, and the definition of “asbestos”. c. Federal and State Wetland Issues. --Federal: In December 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) sent draft “Clean Water Protection Guidance” to the Office of Management and Budget for regulatory review. This “Guidance” describes how EPA and the Corps will identify waters subject to jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The document will substantively change the Agencies’ policy on waters subject to jurisdiction under the CWA and, as the agencies acknowledge, will significantly increase the scope of the CWA’s jurisdiction over more waters and more provisions of the Act as compared to current practice. This “Guidance” not only will change agency policy without following the proper, transparent rulemaking process but will reverse decisions by the United States Supreme Court that set limits on the Federal Government’s authority to regulate waters. Moreover, the “Guidance” will undermine the Federal-State partnership that has long existed, resulting in confusion and further delaying permitting processes. --State: As for our own wetlands issues in California, we are in the process of working with a coalition to draft comments in response to the State Water Board's Notice of Preparation of Environmental Impact Report/Initial Study that are due on May 20, 2011. This Project is the adoption of a proposed Wetland Area Protection Policy and regulations governing the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the State. d. Questions on Reported Items or Other Business?
IV. Land Use and Zoning - Patrick Lieuw, Issue Chair a. AB 49 (Gatto) – Development: Expedited Permit Review – Support. AB 49 will require the Office of Permit Assistance to assist developers of commercial or industrial projects with understanding the permit approval process and meeting environmental quality requirements. The bill will provide grants and technical assistance to city and county agencies to assist them in creating an expedited development permit process and in some cases designate a specific administrative entity that will serve as the point of contact for the applicant throughout the process. C.A.R. supports AB 49 because it would help to streamline and expedite the confusing development permit process and serve as a model for permit streamlining for residential developments.
b. SB 668 (Evans) – Local Government: Williamson Act – Watch. This bill would, until January 1, 2016, authorize an open-space district, a land-trust organization, or a nonprofit entity to enter into a contract with a Williamson Act landowner to keep that landowner’s land in contract under the Williamson Act, for a period of up to 10 years in exchange for the open-space district’s, land-trust organization’s, or nonprofit entity’s payment of all or a portion of the foregone property tax revenue to the county, where the state has failed to reimburse the city or county for property tax revenues not received as a result of Williamson Act contracts. c. Federal Flood Insurance. The Flood Insurance Reform Act Of 2011”, amongst other things, reauthorizes the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through Sept. 30, 2016, allows up to a 3-year moratorium on flood insurance for specified circumstances, redefines loss of use, sets minimum deductibles and payments, deals with insurance rates, establishes the Technical Mapping Advisory Council and seeks ways to privatize the NFIP. d. Federal Natural Hazard Risk Reduction Legislation. California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein have introduced the Natural Hazards Risk Reduction Act of 2011. The purpose of the legislation is to improve the nation’s preparedness for earthquakes and violent windstorms. The legislation will reauthorize the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) through FY 2015. The NEHRP will be tasked with assessing new and existing earthquake hazards, improve building codes and work to decrease the damage of seismic activity.
e. Questions on Reported Items or Other Business?
V. Property Rights – Kim Boda, Issue Chair a. SB 588 (Evans) Coastal resources: California Coastal Act of 1976: enforcement: penalties – Oppose. This bill would give the California Coastal Commission (CCC) authority to pursue and retain the penalties collected and to pursue a judicial action and obtain judgment liens to collect those penalties. C.A.R. is opposed to SB 588 because judicial authority to pursue fines and penalties should remain with the courts where due process is afforded and not with the CCC. Furthermore, SB 588 effectively promotes a "bounty hunter" incentive to fine landowners.
b. Questions on Reported Items or Other Business?
VI. Resources - Georgia Richardson, Issue Chair a. AB 14x/AB1054 (Skinner) – Energy: Clean Energy Financing – Support. Existing law requires the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (Authority) to establish a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Reserve Program to assist with the financing of renewable energy sources or energy or water efficiency upgrades through the use of voluntary contractual assessments. Due to actions by federal home loan entities that have stalled the current financing method of the PACE program, AB 1054 would require the Authority to establish a Clean Energy Reserve Program to reduce the cost of a financial institution loan for the purposes of installing energy upgrades by providing a reserve or financial assistance to a qualifying financial institution. C.A.R. supports AB 1054 as it provides alternative financing options to homeowners to install energy and water efficiency improvements.
b. AB 904 (Skinner) PUC Energy Efficiency Programs – Support. This bill would require the PUC to coordinate with the Energy Commission to ensure that energy efficiency programs result in real reductions, examine alternatives to traditional energy efficiency services, and look into the establishment of a program that would allow residential heating, ventilation and air conditioning retrofits to be financed through an increase in the owners electric or gas bill. C.A.R. supports this measure as it would examine and improve energy efficiency programs and mandates as well as provide homeowners with a funding alternative for energy efficient retrofits.
c. SB 454 (Pavley) – Energy Efficiency Standards – Removal of Opposition. SB 454 would subject a licensed contractor to disciplinary action for a failure to comply with California’s Energy Efficiency standards and would require the California Energy Commission (CEC) to work with the Contractor’s Board to identify and investigate and discipline licensees and unlicensed contractors who fail to comply with energy efficiency standards. This measure would also prohibit and public utility from issuing any rebates or incentives for energy efficiency improvements without evidence that any appropriate building permits have been issued. As introduced, SB 454 would have also allowed the CEC to bring an action and impose civil penalties on a licensee or an unlicensed contractor who violates any of the regulations. C.A.R. sought amendments to remove this provision because it would have given the CEC judicial authority as well as creating a “bounty hunter” incentive to fine contractors for improperly installing energy efficient features. With these amendments, C.A.R. has removed our opposition but will continue to work with the author and stakeholders to monitor the development of this bill.
d. GO SOLAR CALIFORNIA - Solar Advantage Value Estimator (SAVE) Program Update. The California Energy Commission (CEC) is developing SAVE for use by appraisers, REALTORS® and others in order to provide a means for evaluating existing solar systems and to determine their expected. SAVE will provide appraisers with a tool that can place an actual dollar value on the system, and will help to provide prospective purchasers with information on the average energy savings that can be achieved. The CEC has also been compiling a database of properties with solar systems by using various state rebate programs and by coordinating with utilities and installers. The database contains property addresses and other information related to the size and age of the systems on the property. The CEC anticipates SAVE will be released to the public for their use in the summer of 2011. For information on SAVE please visit:
b. Questions on Reported Items or Other Business?
VII. Subdivision & Development - Theresa Wilson, Issue Chair a. AB 208 (Fuentes) Land use: subdivision maps: expiration dates – Support. Under the Subdivision Map Act , this bill would, for any tentative map that will expire between the effective date of the bill and January 1, 2014, extend the expiration date by twenty-four months. C.A.R. supports this measure because it extends the life of thousands of tentative maps so that when the when California’s economy and housing sector does show a resurgence in activity, the construction industry will be poised to being building right away rather than waiting for new maps to be approved.
b. AB 741 (Huffman) – Onsite Wastewater Disposal – Support. – This bill, in an effort to prevent and decrease environmental contamination from aging sewer and septic systems, would expand current law which allows public agencies to enter into voluntary contractual assessments with property owners to finance the installation of renewable energy, energy and water efficiency improvements on their property, to include sewer and septic upgrades and conversions. C.A.R. supports this measure as it would offer homeowners an alternative to finance much needed sewer repairs or conversions.
c. AB 955 (Huber) Onsite Sewage treatment Systems – Support if Amended. This bill requires the State Water Resources Control Board use a multi-tiered categorization of septic systems for the development of statewide septic regulations or policies. These requirements will be implemented by authorized local agencies and state or regional boards shall have the ability to establish exemption criteria. C.A.R. has been an active stakeholder in the development of statewide septic regulations with one of the biggest concerns being how and when compliance to any regulations would be triggered. While C.A.R. is supportive of the local agency involvement concepts in AB 955 it is seeking amendments to specifically state that a time-of-sale trigger will not be used as the method of compliance as the addition of such significant transaction costs would be devastating to the already fragile rural real estate market.
d. AB 964 (Huffman) - State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund: onsite sewer improvement projects – Support. This bill would authorize the State Water Board to use federal funds to offer locally-administrated low-cost loans for voluntary sewer lateral and septic system improvements or replacements and would require a public agency receiving funds to establish a 10-year plan for sewer and septic upgrades. C.A.R. supports this measure as it would offer homeowners an alternative to finance much needed sewer lateral repairs or replacements or septic repairs, replacements or connections to municipal sewers. C.A.R. also supports the development of a 10-year plan that will allow for a regional approach that will require fair treatment of all homes in the community, as an alternative to a point of sale approach. e. Questions on Reported Items or Other Business?
VIII. Septic Working Group Update – Shari Setser
IX. Other Items
X. REALTOR® Committee on Air Quality (RCAQ) Report (time permitting)
"*" indicates that issue briefing materials are included with the reporting committee's agenda materials.