Cal Cities solidified some key early wins last week as lawmakers wrapped up last year’s remaining business. Legislators voted down measures that would impose new rules for warehouses. Meanwhile, a bill that would make it easier for people to serve on local advisory bodies, boards and commissions moved to the Senate.
California’s legislative cycle lasts two years. Bills that fail to advance in the first year can be taken up again in the second year.
Legislators rejected both AB 1000 (Reyes) and AB 1748 (Ramos), which would have placed overly strict standards on new warehouses or warehouse expansions to lessen their impact on local air quality. Cal Cities opposed AB 1000 and monitored AB 1748 for any major changes.
Over the past decade, companies have built thousands of warehouses in California, particularly in the Inland Empire region. Some have started expanding into less populated areas of the Central Valley. Those regions now have some of the worst air quality in the nation.
Cal Cities is committed to working with the state to advance clean air initiatives. However, AB 1000 included duplicative requirements for medium and heavy-duty vehicles and emission standards already managed by the California Air Resources Board and air quality management districts.
AB 1000 would also have usurped cities’ ability to zone, plan and perform environmental reviews under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The law requires cities to mitigate significant environmental impacts. Other recent environmental laws, like the state’s Advanced Clean Fleet Rule, also made parts of the bill moot.
Although the two measures failed to advance, lawmakers are preparing to take up warehouse citing again this year. Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas called on Asm. Juan Carrillo to form a working group to determine how to balance warehouse expansions without sacrificing jobs. Cal Cities will report on the working group’s progress, as well as any related legislative proposals as the session continues.
Remote public meeting flexibility
In good news for cities, AB 817 (Pacheco) moved to the Senate. Co-sponsored by Cal Cities, the bill would address key recruitment and safety issues by easing restrictions on remote meetings for local non-decision-making legislative bodies. It would allow members of local advisory bodies, boards and commissions to participate in online public meetings without posting their location and without allowing the public into the private location — just like state advisory bodies.
Barring any unforeseen surprises late today, legislators are now fully focused on the year ahead. Lawmakers have until Feb. 16 to introduce any new bills. Policy committee meetings will begin in earnest when the legislature reconvenes from a brief spring recess on April 1.