SB 244 (Wolk) places onerous planning and an annexation burden on cities at a time when they are struggling with their budgets, which have been compounded by recent state raids on redevelopment and vehicle license fee revenues. With warped logic that could only make sense in Sacramento, cities are now supposedly being helped by a provision just added to the bill that allows cities to borrow money from the state to pay for these new requirements.

The bill requires cities to identify disadvantaged communities, provide a map, a description of the area, as well as an analysis of water, storm water drainage, and structural fire protections needs. The bill also requires the Local Agency Formation Commission to deny an application to annex a territory contiguous to a disadvantaged unincorporated community, unless a second application to annex the disadvantage community is submitted.

It takes money to fix these areas, but this year the state has taken millions in local funding away. Redevelopment funds could have helped pay for infrastructure; that’s gone at least until the Supreme Court rules. SB 89 took $130 million in vehicle license fees from cities, which contained special funds for cities annexing unincorporated areas.

The latest amendments to SB 244 now allow cities to borrow money from the state for planning costs for eligible projects from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. These funds can only be used for wastewater treatment and water recycling facilities, non-point source pollution projects that protect rivers and streams, and projects that provide enhancement and protection of estuaries.  At best, this would only allow cities to borrow a fraction of the costs for the analysis and planning requirements associated with SB 244.

If your city has not taken a position in opposition yet, it is time to get on record. A borrowing provision to pay for this state mandate just adds insult to injury. Call or send a letter your legislators immediately to urge them to vote no. A sample opposition letter can be found by searching SB 244 on the League’s website at