2003 Significant Legislation


October 14, 2003

TO: People Interested in Local Government, Public Finance, and Land Use

FROM: Senator Tom Torlakson

SUBJECT: Important Local Government Bills During 2003


Land Use and Development

Local Agency Formation Commissions

Local Government Powers

Local Finance

Because Governor Gray Davis finished acting on bills, I wanted you to know about some of the measures that the Senate Local Government Committee worked on during 2003 that affect local agencies’ powers, revenues, and land use topics.  Under the California Constitution, the urgency bills take effect immediately; the regular bills become law on January 1, 2004.

The fastest way to get copies of these bills and the Committee’s analyses, other analyses, histories, voting records, and any veto messages is from the California Legislature’s official website:www.leginfo.ca.gov.  You can also order a printed copy of any bill by writing directly to the Bill Room, State Capitol (Room B-32), Sacramento CA 95814-4906.  Single copies are always free

More information about the Committee’s work, including detailed references on land use, redevelopment, LAFCOs, and links to useful websites is available on the Committee’s own website:



                                               LAND USE AND DEVELOPMENT


SB 18 (Burton) increases protections for Traditional Tribal Cultural Sites, adding them to OPR’s General Plan Guidelines and to the procedures for adopting general plans, specific plans, and open space elements.  Status:  Failed on the Assembly Floor.

SB 745 (Ashburn) makes permanent the Subdivision Map Act’s environmental subdivision provisions.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 76 of the Statutes of 2003.

SB 806 (Sher) renames the general plan’s circulation element as the “transportation element.”  Status:  Senate Floor Inactive File; two-year bill.

SB 898 (Burton) would have imposed an 11- year moratorium on rezoning agricultural land for nonagricultural uses; amended to declare legislative intent.  Status:  Assembly Local Government Committee; two-year bill.

AB 51 (Simitian) requires general plans’ land use elements to identify the land use categories that provide for child care facilities.  Status:  Vetoed.

AB 170 (Reyes) requires San Joaquin Valley counties and cities to add air quality concerns to their general plans.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 472, Statutes of 2003.

AB 332 (Mullin) requires counties and cities to notify airport land use commissions (ALUCs) and Caltrans before overriding airport land use compatibility plans.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 351, Statutes of 2003.

AB 1228 (Dutton) requires county and city zoning ordinances to allow amateur radio antennas, codifying the FCC’s limited preemption of local land use control.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 50, Statutes of 2003.

AB 1347 (Maze) requires counties and cities to account for development agreement fees the same way they account for other development project fees.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 288, Statutes of 2003.

AB 1410 (Wolk) adds transit oriented development to the list of land uses that get preferential treatment when public agencies sell surplus lands.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 772, Statutes of 2003.

AB 1492 (Laird) creates a new procedure for local officials to terminate a Williamson Act contract if there’s a material breach of contract.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 694, Statutes of 2003.



AB 518 (Salinas) requires LAFCOs to consider how proposed boundary changes affect regional housing needs.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 176, Statutes of 2003.

AB 520 (Salinas) allows the Santa Cruz LAFCO to approve phased annexations that implement Watsonville’s urban growth boundary.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 36, Statutes of 2003.



SB 61, SB 62, and SB 63 are the Senate Local Government Committee’s annual Validating Acts.  Status:  Signed; Chapters 9, 294, and 295, Statutes of 2003.

SB 66 (Senate Local Government Committee) is the annual Local Government Omnibus Act, making 26 relatively minor and noncontroversial changes to the state laws affecting local agencies’ powers and duties.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 296, Statutes of 2003.

SB 163 (Alarcón) and *SB 906 (Alarcón) allow cities and counties to contract-out for services only if they meet specific conditions.  Status:  SB 163, Senate Appropriations Committee; two-year bill.  SB 906 failed on the Assembly Floor.

SB 341 (Senate Local Government Committee) enacts the Public Cemetery District Law, revising the laws that govern cemetery districts.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 57, Statutes of 2003.

SB 1068 (Senate Local Government Committee) sets deadlines for the State Controller’s annual financial reports for cities, counties, and special districts.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 126, Statutes of 2003.

AB 474 (Salinas) revises the requirements for retaining and destroying special districts’ records.  Status:  Senate Local Government Committee; two-year bill.



SB 109 (Torlakson) improves the Attorney General’s oversight of redevelopment agencies’ annual independent audits.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 318, Statutes of 2003.

SB 114 (Torlakson) prohibits local officials from subsidizing the relocation of big box stores and vehicle dealers within the same market area.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 781, Statutes of 2003.

SB 321 (Torlakson) enacts the $15 billion “Invest in California Infrastructure Bond Act” to finance transportation projects, affordable housing programs, and additional capital for the Infrastructure Bank. Status:  Senate Appropriations Committee; two-year bill.

SB 392 (Local Government Committee) conforms the benefit assessment procedures in the Improvement Act of 1911 and the Municipal Improvement Act of 1913 to the constitutional requirements of Proposition 218.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 194, Statutes of 2003.

SB 407 (Torlakson) shifts about $35 million in property tax revenue from enterprise special districts to ERAF and allocates the money to pay for the counties’ costs of running the recall election and the 2004 elections.  Status:  Failed on the Assembly Floor.

*SB 621 (Burton) allocates money from the Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund to local governments.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 858, Statutes of 2003.

*SB 1045 (Senate Budget Committee) is the Budget Trailer Bill that shifts $135 million from redevelopment agencies to the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF) in 2003-04, saving the State General Fund a similar amount in school apportionment payments.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 260, Statutes of 2003.

*SB 1047 (Senate Budget Committee) gives Orange and Yolo counties bigger shares of property tax revenues, paid from ERAF and the State General Fund.  Status:  Senate Rules Committee; two-year bill.

SCA 11 (Alarcón) lowers the voter-approval threshold for local special taxes and general obligation bonds from a 2/3-vote to 55% for affordable housing, transportation, open space, and general infrastructure.  Status:  Senate Constitutional Amendments Committee; two-year bill.

AB 94 (Chu) allows cities and counties to raise their existing extraordinary property tax rates to pay for pension programs approved by the voters before Proposition 13.  Status:  Vetoed.

*AB 421 (Steinberg) allows cities and counties to choose either the sales tax growth rate or the property tax growth rate as the formula for replacing sales tax revenues lost because of the “Triple Flip.” Status:  Failed on the Senate Floor.

*AB 944 (Steinberg) allows Property and Business Improvement Districts to issue assessment bonds and to levy assessments against business owners.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 763, Statutes of 2003.

AB 1051 (Goldberg) allows local agency utilities to charge nondiscriminatory utility rates to schools, public universities, and state agencies.  Status:  Vetoed.

*AB 1749 (Budget Committee) is the Budget Trailer Bill that repeals the authority of counties to charge booking fees and the continuous appropriation to reimburse cities and special districts for their booking fees.  Status:  Senate Desk; two-year bill.

*AB 1755 (Budget Committee) is the Budget Trailer Bill that shifts $250 million from redevelopment agencies to the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF) in 2003-04, saving the State General Fund a similar amount in school apportionment payments.  Status:  Senate Desk; two-year bill.

* AB 1766 (Budget Committee) and *AB 7x (Oropeza) are the Budget Trailer Bills that creates the “Triple Flip,” suspending county and city sales tax rates but offsetting their revenue losses with larger shares of property tax revenues.  Status:  AB 1766; signed, Chapter 162, Statutes of 2003.  AB 7x; signed, Chapter 13, Statutes of the First Extraordinary Session of 2003-04.

*AB 1768 (Budget Committee) is the Budget Trailer Bill that requires the VLF backfill gap loan to be repaid to cities and counties no later than August 15, 2006.  Status:  Signed; Chapter 231, Statutes of 2003.

* = The Senate Local Government Committee did not hear this bill.

Committee Address