By Jeff Ballinger & Krysten Steele, Best Best & Krieger.
Welcome to 2017.
As in previous years, our California legislators were busy in 2016 creating new laws that affect public agencies; the majority of which became effective on Jan. 1. As always, ensuring you are in compliance with all new regulations is of the upmost importance.
Here is a brief summary of the new laws that may have specific impact on your agency or municipality. For additional information, please click on the link to the full text of each bill and/or seek the advice of legal counsel.
AB 54 – Disability access: construction-related accessibility claims: demand letters. This bill requires that information about demand letters submitted under the Construction-Related Accessibility Standards Compliance Act, regarding construction-related accessibility claims for violations of those standards, be submitted to the Commission in a standard format on its website.
AB 241 – Bankruptcy: retired employees: disclosure of names and mailing addresses. A local public agency must provide the name and mailing address of each retired employee, or his or her beneficiary, to any organization that is qualified in representing retired employees in a neutral evaluation process, the declaration of a fiscal emergency and adoption of a resolution, or a bankruptcy proceeding.
AB 278 – Municipal elections. This bill deletes the requirement in municipal or special elections, for members of the legislative body by districts, from districts, by districts with an elective mayor, or from districts with an elective mayor, that the ordinance describe the boundaries, and number, of each legislative district. The new law now requires the legislative body to prepare a proposed map describing the boundaries and numbers of the legislative districts, after the ordinance is passed or enacted.
AB 350 – District-based municipal elections: preapproval hearings. Requires a political subdivision that changes to, or establishes, district-based elections, to hold public hearings before and after drawing a preliminary map or maps of the proposed district boundaries.
SB 441 – Public Records Act: exemptions. The California Public Records Act requires that a reasonably segregable portion of a public record be available for inspection by any person requesting the public record after deletion of the portions that are exempted by law. This new law exempts from disclosure any identification number, alphanumeric character, or other unique identifying code used by a public agency to identify a vendor or contractor, or their affiliates, unless the identification code is used in a public bidding or an audit involving the public agency.
SB 450 – Elections: vote by mail voting and mail ballot elections. This bill requires an elections official who receives a vote by mail ballot that he or she did not issue, to forward that ballot to the official who issued the ballot no later than eight days after receipt. By this requirement, the bill imposes a state-mandated local program.
AB 806 – Community development: economic opportunity. This bill recasts current law authorizing a city, county, or city and county, with the approval of its legislative body, by resolution after a public hearing, to acquire, sell, or lease property in furtherance of the creation of an economic opportunity. Current law requires that resolution to contain a finding that the sale or lease of the property will assist in the creation of economic opportunity.
SB 807 – Unmanned aircraft systems. This bill further limits the exposure to civil liability of an emergency responder for damage to an unmanned aircraft or system, if the damage was caused while the emergency responder was performing specific emergency services and the unmanned aircraft or system was interfering with those services.
SB 975 – Tax increment: property tax override rates. Current law authorizes an infrastructure financing plan or a community revitalization and investment plan to provide for the division of taxes levied upon taxable property, if any, between the affected taxing entities. This bill, for the purpose of any law authorizing the division of taxes, prohibits the division of revenues derived from a property tax rate approved by the voters pursuant to specified provisions of the California Constitution and levied in addition to the general property tax rate limited by the California Constitution.
SB 1107 – Political Reform Act of 1974. Current law prohibits a person who has been convicted of a felony involving bribery, embezzlement, extortion or theft of public money, perjury, or conspiracy to commit any of those crimes, from being considered a candidate for, or elected to, a state or local elective office. Additionally, campaign funds under the control of a former candidate or elected officer are considered surplus campaign funds at a prescribed time, and the use of surplus campaign funds is prohibited except for specified purposes. This new bill prohibits an officeholder who is convicted of one of the above felonies from using funds held by that officeholder’s candidate controlled committee, for purposes other than certain purposes permitted for the use of surplus campaign funds.
SB 1108 – Elections: state and local reapportionment. Current law authorizes a county board of supervisors to appoint a committee of county residents to study changing the boundaries of its supervisorial districts. Current law authorizes a city council to appoint a committee of city residents to study changing the boundaries of its council districts, directs a committee to report its findings to the city council, and identifies committee recommendations as advisory only. This bill deletes those provisions and instead authorizes a county or general law city to establish a commission, composed of residents of the county or city, to either change the boundaries of the districts or recommend changes to the boundaries of the districts to the governing body.
SB 1182 – Controlled substances. Current law generally provides that the possession of ketamine, gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), and flunitrazepam is a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year. This bill makes it a felony, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for 16 months, or two or three years, to possess these substances with the intent to commit sexual assault. By creating a new crime, this bill imposes a state-mandated local program.
SB 1263 – Public water system: permits. Requires a person submitting an application for a permit on a proposed new public water system to first submit a preliminary technical report to the State Water Resources Control Board; at least six months before initiating construction of any water-related improvement. Because a misstatement in the report could be a crime under the provision, this bill imposes a state-mandated local program by expanding the scope of a crime.
SB 1349 – Political Reform Act of 1974: Secretary of State: online filing and disclosure system. This bill requires the Secretary of State to develop and certify (for public use) an online filing and disclosure system for campaign statements and reports that provides public disclosure of campaign finance and lobbying information in a user-friendly, easily understandable format.
SB 1436 – Local agency meetings: local agency executive compensation: oral report of final action recommendation. This bill, requires the legislative body, prior to taking final action, to orally report a summary of a recommendation for a final action on the salaries, salary schedules, or compensation paid in the form of fringe benefits of a local agency executive during the open meeting in which the final action is to be taken.
AB 1494 – Voting: marked ballots. Current law prohibits a voter from showing his or her ballot after it is marked to reveal its contents. This bill creates an exception to that prohibition that permits a voter to voluntarily disclose how he or she voted if that voluntary act does not violate any other law.
AB 1546 – Vital Records. This bill authorizes a local registrar to release birth and death record indices to the county recorder within its jurisdiction for the preparation or maintenance of indices. This measure extends the application of access restrictions applicable to confidential portions of certificates of live birth to confidential birth record indices.
AB 1661 – Local government: sexual harassment prevention training and education. Requires local agency officials to receive sexual harassment prevention training and education if the agency provides any type of compensation, salary, or stipend to those officials, and allows a local agency to require employees to receive sexual harassment prevention training or information. The bill also requires an entity that develops curricula to satisfy this requirement; to consult with the city attorney or county counsel regarding the sufficiency and accuracy of that proposed content.
AB 1732 – Single-user restrooms. Commencing March 1, this bill requires all single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment, place of public accommodation or government agency to be identified as all-gender toilet facilities. The bill authorizes inspectors, building officials, or other local officials responsible for code enforcement to inspect for compliance with these provisions during any inspection.
AB 1785 – Vehicles: use of wireless electronic devices. This bill prohibits a person from driving a motor vehicle while holding and operating a handheld wireless telephone or communication device. The bill includes an exception for functions that require only “the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger,” when the phone is mounted in the vehicle. By changing the definition of a crime, the bill imposes a state-mandated local program. The California Constitution requires the State to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the State. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement. However, this bill provides that no reimbursement is required by this Act for a specified reason.
AB 1787 – Open meetings: public comments: translation. Under this law, if a local legislative body limits the time for public comment during a public meeting, the legislative body is required to provide at least twice the allotted time to a member of the public who utilizes a translator. This will ensure that non-English speakers receive the same opportunity to directly address the legislative body; unless simultaneous translation equipment is used to allow the body to hear the translated public testimony simultaneously.
AB 2220 – Elections in cities: by or from district. Current law authorizes the legislative body of a city with a population of fewer than 100,000 people to adopt an ordinance that requires the members of the legislative body to be elected by district, or by district with an elective mayor, without being required to submit the ordinance to the voters for approval. This bill deletes the population limitation in that provision.
AB 2228 – Code enforcement officers. Requires the Board of Directors of the California Association of Code Enforcement Officers to develop and maintain standards for the designation of Certified Code Enforcement Officers including minimum training, qualifications and experience requirements for applicants to qualify for the CCEO designation.
AB 2257 – Local agency meetings: agenda: online posting. This bill requires the legislative body of a local agency to post online an agenda for a meeting occurring on and after Jan. 1, 2019, of a legislative body of a city, county, city and county, special district, school district, or political subdivision established by the State that has a website. The agenda should be posted on the agency’s primary website homepage, and should be accessible through a prominent, direct link.
AB 2318 – Nonprofit organizations: use of public resources. Current law prohibits a nonprofit organization or its officers, employees, or agents from using, or permitting another to use, public resources received from a local agency for any campaign activity not authorized by law. Current law authorizes the Attorney General, any district attorney, or any city attorney of a city with a population over 750,000 to bring a civil action to recover a civil penalty against any person who intentionally or negligently violates that prohibition. This bill clarifies that the prohibition applies to making contributions or expenditures not authorized by law, and specifies certain expenditures authorized by law that are not subject to the prohibition.
AB 2389 – Special districts: district-based elections: reapportionment. This bill authorizes a governing body of a special district to require, by resolution, that the members be elected using district-based elections without being required to submit the resolution to the voters for approval and requires that the resolution include a declaration that the change in the method of election is being made in furtherance of the purposes of the California Voting Rights Act of 2001.
AB 2442 – Density bonuses. This bill requires a density bonus to be provided to a developer that agrees to construct a housing development that includes at least 10 percent of the total units for transitional foster youth, disabled veterans, or homeless persons. The bill requires that these units be subject to a recorded affordability restriction of 55 years and be provided at the same affordability level as very low income units. The bill sets the density bonus at 20 percent of the number of these units. By increasing the duties of local agencies, this bill imposes a state-mandated local program.
AB 2476 – Local governments: parcel taxes: notice. Requires the legislative body of a local agency to provide notice of a new parcel tax to the owner of a parcel affected by the tax, if that owner does not reside within the jurisdictional boundaries of the taxing entity. The notice must include specified information and to be provided to the property owner in a specified manner. This bill provides that the local agency may recover the reasonable costs of the notice from the proceeds of the parcel tax.
AB 2492 – Community revitalization. Current law authorizes certain local agencies to form a community revitalization and investment authority within a community revitalization and investment area, to carry out provisions of the Community Redevelopment Law related to infrastructure, affordable housing, and economic revitalization among others. Current law requires not less than 80 percent of the land calculated by census tracts or census block groups within the area to be characterized by several conditions, including a condition that the land has an annual median household income of less than 80 percent of the statewide annual median income. This bill authorizes the calculation to be made with a combination of census tracts and census block groups.
AB 2693 – Financing requirements: property improvements. Current law authorizes the legislative body of a public agency to determine that it would be convenient, advantageous, and in the public interest to designate an area within which authorized public agency officials and property owners may enter into voluntary contractual assessments to finance certain improvements. This bill prohibits a public agency from permitting a property owner to participate in a program unless the property owner satisfies certain conditions and the property owner is given the right to cancel the contractual assessment at any time prior to midnight on the third business day after certain events occur without penalty or obligation, consistent with certain requirements.
AB 2801 – Local government: fees and charges: written protest. Current statutory law provides notice, protest, and hearing procedures for the levying of new or increased fees or charges by local government agencies. One written protest per parcel, filed by an owner or tenant of the parcel, is counted in calculating a majority protest to a proposed new or increased fee or charge. This bill requires the agency to maintain the written protests for a minimum of two years following the date of the hearing to consider the written protests. By increasing the duties of local officials, this bill imposes a state-mandated local program.
AB 2843 – Public records: employee contact information. The California Public Records Act excepts from public inspection the home addresses and home telephone numbers of state employees and employees of a school district or county office of education, provided that disclosure can be made in specified instances, including to an employee organization. This bill with certain exceptions, extends the limitation on the disclosure of the personal information to all employees of a public agency and extends the limitation to include personal cellular telephone numbers and birth dates.
AB 2853 – Public records. Authorizes a public agency that posts a public record on its website to refer a member of the public to inspect the public record to the public agency’s website where the public record is posted. This bill states that if a member of the public requests a copy of the public record due to an inability to access or reproduce the public record from the website, the public agency must promptly provide a copy of the public record.
Jeffrey S. Ballinger is a partner with Best Best & Krieger LLP and leader of the firm’s Municipal Law practice group. His practice emphasizes all aspects of governmental law, as well as planning and zoning and environmental and natural resources law. He can be reached at Jeff.Ballinger@bbklaw.com.
Krysten Steele is a paralegal in the Municipal Law practice group of Best Best & Krieger LLP. Her work as a paralegal focuses on municipal law, public policy and ethics compliance and litigation. She can be reached at Krysten.Steele@bbklaw.com.