A pack of positive bills for cities awaits the Governor’s pen

Sep 2, 2022

The 2022 legislative session ended on Aug. 31, but technically speaking it stretched into the wee hours of Sept. 1. As usual, lawmakers saved the most contentious bills for last, including an ambitious climate change package.  

Most measures impacting cities headed to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk with little fanfare. A number of the bills awaiting action from the Governor would positively impact cities. Of the nearly forty priority bills for cities, Cal Cities is requesting a veto for 14. 

Bills that would expand access to behavioral health care, provide additional time to comply with organic waste recycling regulations, and prevent the theft of catalytic converters all passed. However, a few measures that threaten local control also passed, including those impacting local housing plans, cannabis, and parking regulations.  

The Governor has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto any bills on his desk. Below is a breakdown of the top pending priority bills. Cities are encouraged to send letters of support or opposition to the Governor. Updated sample letters and action alerts will be available in the Cal Cities Action Center

Housing, Community, and Economic Development 

Despite several big budget wins for cities, Cal Cities-supported housing bills, such as AB 1748 (Seyarto) and AB 1945 (Aguiar-Curry), failed to advance this year. Many of the remaining bills would hinder cities’ ability to properly plan for and support increased housing. 

Two similar bills, SB 6 (Caballero) and AB 2011 (Wicks), which would require cities to approve housing in areas zoned for office, retail, and parking, made it to the Governor’s desk. One key difference is that SB 6 would still allow the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to apply. AB 2011 on the other hand, would require cities to ministerially approve, without condition or discretion, such developments. A developer would be able to choose which of the two processes to use.  

Cal Cities secured additional flexibility for cities in both bills. However, Cal Cities remains opposed to the measures and is asking the Governor to veto them.  

Cal Cities is also requesting a veto for SB 897 (Wieckowski). The measure would make numerous changes to accessory dwelling unit (ADU) law, even though the law has been amended each of the last five years. Most notably, this measure would force cities to allow 25-foot ADUs if they are attached to the primary dwelling. This would effectively create two-story structures.  

AB 2097 (Friedman) would remove a bargaining chip for cities: parking requirements. The measure would significantly restrict parking requirements within one half-mile of public transit, which the bill defines as a high-quality transit corridor with a 15-minute interval or a major transit stop. It would also prohibit a city from imposing parking requirements on certain other housing projects, regardless of how far they are out from transportation. Cal Cities is requesting a veto for AB 2097.  

Other priority bills include: 

  • AB 2234 (Rivas, Robert) Planning and zoning: housing: postentitlement phase permits.
    Cal Cities Position: Opposed; Requesting Veto 

Transportation, Communications, and Public Works 

Cal Cities has already scored several key transportation victories this year, with most key bills amended to address Cal Cities’ concerns. However, a few priority bills remain.  

The data-collection bill AB 2752 (Wood) would create an interactive map showing all developed last-mile broadband service connections from the state’s open-access, middle-mile broadband project. Last-mile connections are the final connection between an internet company and an end user. Cal Cities is requesting the Governor sign AB 2752, as the additional information would help close the digital divide faster.  

Cal Cities is also requesting the Governor’s signature for AB 1938 (Freidman). The bill would clarify that cities have the authority to lower their speed limits, as outlined in last year’s AB 43 (Friedman, 2021).  

However, Cal Cities is seeking a veto on AB 1685 (Bryan). This measure would require cities to forgive at least $1,500 in parking fines and fees annually for people experiencing homelessness. The measure would significantly increase financial and administrative costs for cities. Moreover, there are already many local and statewide programs in place that reduce the financial burden of these citations.  

Community Services 

By far the most high-profile measure that would impact cities is SB 1338 (Umberg), the legislative vehicle for the Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Court Program. Cal Cities is requesting the Governor sign the bill after securing several key amendments, including one that clarifies the role of cities in the program.  

The CARE Court program aims to connect unsheltered Californians experiencing acute behavioral health needs with a court-ordered care plan managed by a care team in the community. These CARE plans could include clinically prescribed, individualized interventions with several supportive services, medication, and a housing plan.   

Cal Cities is also requesting the Governor’s signature on a complementary package of bills from Sen. Susan Eggman: SB 929, SB 1238, SB 1035, and SB 1227. Collectively, these measures focus on better coordinating existing systems and increasing access to statewide data about the behavioral health care system.  

Relatedly, AB 2281 (Lackey) would establish a grant program to improve access to mental health services for children under the age of five. Historically, California’s youngest residents have been left out of similar programs, making this a critical, much-needed change. Local government agencies would be eligible for the program’s funding. Cal Cities is requesting the Governor’s signature for AB 2281.  

Other priority bills include: 

  • AB 2164 (Lee) Disability Access: Funding
    Cal Cities Position: Support; Requesting Signature
  • AB 1742 (Robert Rivas) California Cigarette Fire Safety and Firefighter Protection Act: Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
    Cal Cities Position: Support; Requesting Signature 
  • AB 2645 (Rodriguez) Local emergency plans: integration of access and functional needs: community resilience centers
    Cal Cities Position: Support; Requesting Signature  

Sept. 14 Update: The Governor signed AB 2645 (Rodriguez) and SB 1338 (Umberg), along with revenue and taxation bill AB 2887 (E. Garcia), after this story was published.

Environmental Quality 

Although the final hours of this year’s legislative session were marked by a high-profile climate scrap, Cal Cities’ priority measures escaped unscathed. Cal Cities is requesting the Governor sign the following four bills: AB 1985 (Robert Rivas), AB 2440 (Irwin), AB 2142 (Gabriel), and AB 2247 (Bloom)

The Cal Cities-sponsored AB 1985 would give cities an additional two years to comply with SB 1383’s (Lara, 2016) procurement requirements. The bill builds on the $180 million secured in the 2022-23 State Budget for the new organic waste recycling regulations.  

Another recycling bill, AB 2440, would require producers of batteries and battery-embedded products to establish a stewardship program for their collection, transportation, and recycling. California currently lacks a convenient collection and recycling system for batteries and batteries embedded in products. When improperly disposed of, these products can create fires or explosions.  

AB 2247 would require manufacturers of PFAS or a product containing intentionally added PFAS to register the PFAS or the product on the publicly accessible platform. Commonly known as “forever chemicals,” PFAS do not decay, are highly mobile, and can be found in everyday objects. Increasing public awareness about these dangerous chemicals is a cost-effective way to protect the health of residents and the environment.  

Water conservation bill AB 2142 would reinstate an important tax exemption for turf replacement rebates from gross income in California. Water efficiency incentive programs like this are a proven, effective way to spur immediate and ongoing water efficiency. However, taxing these rebates can create an unnecessary barrier for households — especially low-income families. If passed, the tax exemption would create a minimal general fund loss for the state. 

Public Safety 

Lawmakers passed several public safety measures that would be beneficial to cities. Cal Cities is requesting the Governor’s signature on AB 1740 (Muratsuchi) and SB 1087 (Gonzalez). The two bills would increase the tracking of catalytic converter sales and outline parameters for who may purchase or possess them. Since 2020, the number of catalytic thefts in California has spiked. However, police officers have few tools to respond, making this a critical measure.  

The Cal Cities-sponsored AB 662 (Rodriguez) also passed out of the Legislature. This measure would provide resources for an evidence-based, comprehensive, and tiered approach to suicide safety for first responders. Due to their jobs, first responders are five times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression than others. Many may be at an elevated risk for suicide, and few receive culturally competent care. Cal Cities is requesting the Governor sign this bill. 

Cal Cities is requesting a veto for SB 1186 (Wiener), a bill that would require all jurisdictions to change their ordinances to allow for the delivery of medicinal cannabis. The measure disregards both the intent of the state’s regulatory cannabis framework and the reality that local jurisdictions in California have vastly different needs. 

Other priority bills include: 

  • AB 2730 (Villapudua) Prisons: Rehabilitation Programs
    Cal Cities Position: Support; Requesting Signature
  • AB 988 (Bauer-Kahan) Mental health: 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
    Cal Cities Position: Support; Requesting Signature 

Governance, Transparency, and Labor Relations 

Several problematic labor bills are headed to the Governor’s desk for action.  

SB 1127 (Atkins) would fundamentally alter longstanding rules and timeframes for determining the eligibility for workers’ compensation claims; SB 284 (Stern) would substantially expand California’s current workers’ compensation presumption for post-traumatic stress disorders. Additionally, SB 931 (Leyva) would create new financial penalties for violating a section of the Government Code that governs employer actions and union membership.  

Although Cal Cities secured amendments for SB 1127 and SB 931, the measures remain costly. Cal Cities is seeking a veto for both bills, along with SB 284.  

A Cal Cities-sponsored Brown Act bill, AB 2647 (Levine), is also headed to the Governor’s desk, and Cal Cities is requesting his signature. This measure would alleviate administrative delays by allowing documents to be shared online with a local legislative body and the public if physical copies are available in person the next business day. The bill would also increase public access to government information.  

SB 1131 (Newman) would expand an existing confidentiality program — Safe at Home — to public health officers, election workers, school board members, and others. This program limits the exposure of public officials to harassment, threats, and acts of violence from the public that resulted from their work serving a public entity. This measure would take effect immediately upon signature. Cal Cities is requesting the Governor sign SB 1131.  

Other priority bills include: 

  • SB 1089 (Wilk) Public employee retirement systems: prohibited investments: Turkey
    Cal Cities Position: Opposed; Requesting Veto
  • AB 1711 (Seyarto) Privacy: breach
    Cal Cities Position: Opposed; Requesting Veto 

Revenue and Taxation 

Despite another record surplus, lawmakers are again seeking to undermine local government budgets for statewide initiatives. AB 1951 (Grayson) would convert the current state General Fund-only sales and use tax exemption for the purchase of manufacturing equipment into a full exemption, including locally approved tax rates. The measure would create an estimated $2 billion revenue loss for local governments. Notably, the exemption does not have any requirements attached, such as job creation. 

Similarly, AB 2887 (E. Garcia) would increase the annual sales and use tax exclusion limit by $50 million for eligible alternative energy and advanced manufacturing. The annual local government revenue loss for AB 2887 would exceed $25 million annually for 3 years. Cal Cities is requesting the Governor veto both measures.  

Lawmakers also passed SB 1449 (Caballero), which Cal Cities is requesting the Governor sign. The bill would authorize grants to cities for infrastructure projects in proposed or completed annexations of unincorporated areas, particularly disadvantaged communities. 

Additionally, AB 2622 (Mullin) is now headed to the Governor's desk. The bill would extend the sales and use tax exemption provided to local governments for zero-emission transit buses. Cal Cities is requesting the Governor's signature for AB 2622.  

How cities can respond 

The legislative fight is far from over. Gov. Gavin Newsom has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto any bills that reach his desk. Updated sample letters and action alerts will be available in the Cal Cities Action Center. Additional updates will be provided in Cal Cities Advocate or through the regional public affairs team