Governor Acts on Key Bills for Sacramento Region Dealing with EVs, Infill Housing and Forest Management

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9/28/18 September was a busy month in the Governor’s office as he worked to meet the September 30 deadline to sign or veto all legislation sent to him at the end of the legislative session. While a number of bills were still pending as of this writing, the Governor did act on a variety of measures with a direct impact on the Sacramento region, including bills in the area of CEQA, electric vehicles, and forest management.

AB 1804 (Berman) creates a CEQA exemption for multifamily residential infill projects in certain unincorporated areas. The bill originally applied the existing infill categorical exemption for development in cities to infill in counties, but it was amended during the legislative process. This bill now provides a statutory CEQA exemption to residential or mixed-use housing infill projects in certain unincorporated areas of a county. The project must include at least six residential units and the development must occur on a project site of no more than five acres that is substantially surrounded by qualified urban uses, in addition to other requirements. The exemption sunsets in six years.

The Governor signed two bills related to electric vehicle infrastructure deployment, SB 1000 (Lara) and AB 2127 (Ting). SB 1000 prohibits a city or county from restricting the types of electric vehicles that use public charging stations that were funded with state or ratepayer funds. The bill requires the California Energy Commission (CEC) to assess whether charging station infrastructure and access is disproportionately deployed by population density, geographical area, or population income level. If it makes such an assessment, it must use state funds, including incentives, to more proportionately deploy new charging station infrastructure. Finally, the bill requires the California Public Utilities Commission to consider numerous issues related the use of charging stations.

AB 2127 requires the CEC to prepare a statewide assessment, updated every two years, of the electric vehicle charging infrastructure needed to support the state’s goal of putting at least five million zero-emission vehicles on California roads by 2030, and of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

The Governor signed multifaceted forest management bill, SB 901 (Dodd), which was the result of the Wildfire Preparedness and Response Conferenced Committee. The bill addresses wildfire prevention, response, and recovery while also touching on forest management policies. It includes, among other provisions, a CEQA exemption for certain fuel reduction activities on national forest lands that have already had a National Environmental Policy Act analysis, new tools to help nonindustrial timber owners with wildfire resilience and other related issues, the continuous appropriation of $200 million of cap-and-trade funds for five years for healthy forest and fire prevention programs and fuel reduction projects, and a requirement for the California Air Resources Board to develop a report every five years that assesses greenhouse gas emissions associated with wildfire and forest management activities.

AB 2518 (Aguiar-Curry) is another forest management related bill signed by the Governor. It directs the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) to identify barriers to in-state production of mass timber and other innovative forest products and develop proposed solutions that are consistent with the state’s climate objectives on forest lands. It also directs the Forest Health Task Force to develop recommendations for siting of additional wood product manufacturing facilities in the state.