In part four of the New Law Guidance series from Best Best & Krieger LLP (BBK), we cover important new legislation for 2024 related to election law, density bonus law, parking, labor law, microenterprises, cannabis and crimes. Below we provide takeaways and analyses of AB 63, AB 323, AB 361, AB 594, AB 1325, AB 1448, AB 1684 and SB 602.
AB 63 (Bill) constitutes an act to add Sections 15306 and 15504.5 to the Elections Code relating to elections.
This Bill requires the elections official to post updated information regarding the election on their internet website at least once per week beginning no later than the Thursday following the election until submission of a certified statement of the results. The information must include updated results for any candidate for office or measure appearing on the ballot, the number of ballots processed, an estimated number of outstanding unprocessed ballots (according to specified categories), and the date and time when it is expected that the next results will be posted at a minimum.
- The Bill permits the elections official to stop posting the results when either of the following occurs: (1) a certified statement of results is published, or (2) the only ballots left to count are vote by mail ballots, for which a voter has the opportunity to cure their ballot by verifying or providing their signature.
- This Bill requires the Secretary of State to include a notation if applicable when transmitting a certificate of election to the state assembly or state senate regarding a person who appears to have received the plurality of votes in an election for legislative office. The required notation is that the person was not continuously registered to vote in the district in which the person appears to have received a plurality of votes from the date the candidate filed their declaration of candidacy to the date on which the Secretary of State transmits the certificate of election or other information.
- The Bill will implement a state-mandated local program by imposing new duties on local elections officials. 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. This Bill would provide that if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the Bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.
DENSITY BONUS LAW
AB 323 (Bill), passed on 10/11/23, is an act to add Section 714.7 to the Civil Code and to amend Section 65915 of the Government Code relating to land use.
- The Bill requires the developer and the city or county to ensure that the for-sale unit that qualified the developer for the award of the density bonus is either (1) initially sold to and occupied by a person or family of the required income, or (2) if the unit is not purchased by an income-qualified person or family within 180 days after the issuance of the certificate of occupancy, the qualified nonprofit housing organization that is receiving the above-described welfare exemption meets specified requirements. These requirements include: (a) having a determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service affirming its tax-exempt status, as specified; (b) being based in California; and (c) the primary activity of the nonprofit corporation being the development and preservation of affordable home ownership housing in California that incorporates within their contracts for initial purchase a repurchase option that requires a subsequent purchaser that desires to sell or convey the property to first offer the nonprofit corporation the opportunity to repurchase the property pursuant to an equity sharing agreement or a specified recorded contract that includes an affordability restriction. These requirements on local agencies with respect to density bonuses will impose a state-mandated local program.
- The Bill also prohibits a developer from selling a unit constructed pursuant to a local inclusionary zoning ordinance that is intended for owner-occupancy by persons or families of extremely low, very low, low or moderate income (low income) to a purchaser that is not a person or family of extremely low income.
- However, the Bill authorizes a developer to sell that unit to a qualified nonprofit housing corporation as defined that will ensure owner-occupancy pursuant to the income limitation recorded on the deed or other instrument defining the terms of conveyance eligibility if the unit has not been purchased by an income-qualifying person or family within 180 days of the issuance of the certificate of occupancy.
- The Bill specifies that every unit offered in a manner inconsistent with this requirement is a violation and that violators are exclusively subject to a civil penalty of not more than $15,000.
- The Bill authorizes a civil penalty to be assessed and recovered in a civil action brought in the name of the people of the State of California by the county counsel or city attorney for the jurisdiction in which the violation occurred in a court of competent jurisdiction.
The purpose of AB 361 (Bill) is to add and repeal Article 3.6 (commencing with Section 40245) of Chapter 1 of Division 17 of the Vehicle Code relating to vehicles.
This Bill would authorize a local agency as defined to install automated forward-facing parking control devices on city-owned or district-owned parking enforcement vehicles for the purpose of taking photographs of parking violations occurring in bicycle lanes until January 1, 2030.
- The Bill requires a designated employee of a city, county, city and county, or a contracted law enforcement agency for a special transit district (who is qualified by the city and county or the district to issue parking citations) to review photographs for the purpose of determining whether a parking violation occurred in a bicycle lane; and to issue a notice of violation to the registered owner of a vehicle within 15 calendar days, as specified.
- The Bill requires these photographic records to be confidential and make these records available only to public agencies to enforce parking violations.
- The Bill requires any local agency that implements this pilot program to report to specified committees of the Legislature on the system’s effectiveness and impact on traffic outcomes, among other things, by December 31, 2028.
Existing constitutional provisions require that a statute that limits the right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies be adopted with findings demonstrating the interest protected by the limitation and the need for protecting that interest. This Bill would make legislative findings to that effect.
AB 594 (Bill) adds sections to the Labor Code (Lab. Code) relating to authorizing a public prosecutor to prosecute an action, either civil or criminal, for a violation of specified provisions of the Labor Code or to enforce those provisions independently.
- “Public prosecutor” means the attorney general, a district attorney, a city attorney, a county counsel, or any other city or county prosecutor (Lab. Code § 180).
- The Bill allows a public prosecutor to prosecute an action, either civil or criminal, for violations of the Labor Code, and pay recovered monies to those employees affected by the violation (Lab. Code § 181(a)).
- The Bill allows a public prosecutor to seek injunctive relief to prevent continued violations and to recover any and all reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs (Lab. Code § 181(b)-(c)).
- This Bill requires a public prosecutor to provide 14-day notice to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement prior to prosecution of an action under this Bill. However, failure to provide notice is not a defense to the action (Lab. Code § 181(d)(1)).
- This Bill supersedes any individual agreement between workers and employers limiting actions to mandated arbitration, and explicitly states the Department of Justice shall not stay trial proceedings of the public prosecution (Lab. Code § 182).
- The Bill allows public prosecutors to enforce these willful employment misclassification provisions through specified methods, including by investigating an alleged violation, ordering temporary relief, issuing a citation and filing a civil action and recovering penalties as damages payable to the affected employee (Lab. Code § 226.8).
- Fiscal Impact: The Bill does not appropriate funds for this initiative and no expected/contemplated costs associated with the change.
AB 1325 (Bill) eases restrictions for microenterprise home kitchen operations (MEHKO). Specifically, the Bill:
- Amended Section 113825 of the Health and Safety Code to: (1) increase the number of meals that an MEHKO can prepare and sell per week from 60 to 90 meals per week; and (2) raise the maximum amount of verifiable gross annual sales that a MEHKO can have from $50,000 to no more than $100,000, adjusted for inflation.
- The Bill also defines a “meal” to mean the amount or quantity of food that is intended to be consumed by one customer in one sitting, and can include one or more of any of the following: main dish, appetizers, side dishes, beverages, baked goods or desserts.
- This Bill is an urgency statute that went into effect upon Governor Newsom’s signature on July 21, 2023.
AB 1448 (Bill) responds to the ongoing challenges posed by unlicensed cannabis operations in California by offering financial incentives to strengthen local agencies’ enforcement against these illicit activities. Under existing law, those engaging in unlicensed cannabis activities are subject to civil penalties. Civil penalties brought by the attorney general, county counsels, city attorneys or city prosecutors were used to reimburse the costs incurred by the prosecuting agency prior to the Bill’s enactment. Any remaining funds were subsequently directed into the state’s General Fund.
- The Bill marks a significant departure from this existing framework to provide greater reimbursements to local jurisdictions for their efforts in prosecuting unlicensed cannabis activities.
- With the recognition that local jurisdictions are at the forefront of enforcement against such activities, the Bill reallocates half of any remaining penalties to local jurisdictions (a share that would have otherwise been contributed to the General Fund). The other half of the remaining penalty will continue to be deposited into the General Fund.
- By offering a more direct financial incentive to local agencies, the Bill enhances local enforcement initiatives while allowing these agencies to reinvest penalty funds into further enforcement against unlicensed cannabis activities.
AB 1684 (Bill) signifies a pivotal departure from California’s original concentrated focus on illegal cannabis cultivation by extending local agencies’ enforcement authority to a broader range of unlicensed cannabis operations. With this change, local agencies gain the ability to immediately impose administrative fines or penalties encompassing a wider spectrum of unlicensed cannabis operations (including the cultivation, manufacturing, processing, distribution and retail sale of cannabis).
- The Bill authorizes local agencies to classify these unlicensed activities as public nuisances subject to abatement in order to strengthen enforcement efforts at the local level.
- The Bill expands on existing authority by allowing local agencies to hold property owners and business entities associated with unlicensed commercial cannabis activities jointly and severally liable.
- The Bill introduces a ceiling on these immediate administrative fines or penalties, capping them at $1,000 per violation at a maximum of $10,000 per day. Despite these limitations, the Bill leaves room for the possibility of imposing larger fines otherwise authorized by other laws.
- The enactment of the Bill also enhances collaboration between local authorities and the Office of the Attorney General by allowing agencies to refer cases of such activities directly to the attorney general for civil enforcement.
- The extensive measures of the Bill against unlicensed cannabis activities ultimately signal California’s ramped-up efforts to sustain a compliant cannabis market and address the public dangers associated with such activities.
SB 602 (Bill) amends the Penal Code regarding the enforcement of trespassing against perpetrators to allow law enforcement and property owners to have expedited tools for protecting real property.
- Changes existing law now requiring the owner to make a separate request to the peace officer on each incident when police assistance is needed for a trespass, except the owner can make a single 30-day request when there is a fire hazard, or the owner is out of town or otherwise absent (Penal Code section 602 (o)).
- Changes existing law to allow a single request for assistance, submitted electronically, in a notarized form provided by the law enforcement agency, to a peace officer that is valid for between 30 days and 12 months (Penal Code section 602 (o)(1)).
- Authorizes local governments to accept electronic submissions of requests for peace officer assistance on trespass matters. However, electronic submission is not required under the statute (Penal Code section 602 (o)(3)).
- Fiscal Impact: No appropriations made and there are no expected costs associated with the change.
Disclaimer: BBK Legal Alerts are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts, facts specific to your situation or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information herein.