2004 Significant Legislation

October 1, 2004


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

FROM:  Senator Tom Torlakson

SUBJECT:  Important Local Government Bills During 2004

Local Powers & Governance

Land Use & Development

Local Agency Formation Commissions

Local Finance

During the Fall Interim Recess


Now that Governor Schwarzenegger has finished acting on bills that the Legislature passed this year, I wanted you to know about some of the measures that the Senate Local Government Committee worked on that affect local agencies and land use topics.  The urgency bills took effect immediately; the regular bills become law on January 1, 2005.




SB 1091, SB 1092, and SB 1093 (Senate Local Government Committee) are the annual Validating Acts.  Status: Signed; Chapters 29, 284, and 285, Statutes of 2004.

SB 1165 (Senate Local Government Committee) is the annual Local Government Omnibus Act, making 21 relatively minor and noncontroversial changes to the state laws affecting local agencies’ powers and duties.  Status: Signed; Chapter 118, Statutes of 2004.

SB 1272 (Ortiz) requires ethics training for special districts’ board members and managers, increases auditing and whistle-blower protection requirements, and limits the compensation that districts give their board members.  Status: Failed in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

AB 474 (Salinas) revises the requirements for retaining and destroying special districts’ records.  Status: Signed; Chapter 362, Statutes of 2004. 

AB 1936 (Berg) creates the procedures for consolidating Del Norte County and Crescent City as a city-county, with voter approval.  Status: Died in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

AB 2031 (Cogdill) requires counties’ search and rescue operations to be consistent with the OES Search and Rescue Model Operating Plan.  Status: Signed; Chapter 326, Statutes of 2004.

AB 2279 (Dymally) repeals the requirement that irrigation districts’ board members must be landowners.  Status: Failed in the Senate Local Government Committee.

AB 3036 (Yee) allows public agency utilities to charge other public agencies utility rates that are comparable to nonpublic users.  Status: Died in the Senate Appropriations Committee.


SB 18 (Burton) adds concerns for California Native American places, features, and objects to OPR’s General Plan Guidelines, to the contents of general plans’ open space elements, and to the procedures for adopting general plans.  Status: Signed; Chapter 905, Statutes of 2004.

SB 699 (Sher) requires counties and cities to report how closely their general plans follow OPR’s General Plan Guidelines, and corrects the deadline for filing annual reports on the status of their general plans and Status: Signed; Chapter 916, Statutes of 2004.

SB 806 (Sher) renames the general plans’ circulation element as the “transportation element.”  Status: Died on the Senate Floor Inactive File.

SB 926 (Knight) revises the general plan requirements for military bases and military operating areas.  Status: Signed; Chapter 907, Statutes of 2004.

SB 1462 (Kuehl) requires cities and counties to notify the military about proposed development projects located under or near military special use airspace and allows the military to request consultation. Status: Signed; Chapter 906, Statutes of 2004.

SB 1592 (Torlakson) requires cities and counties to adopt infill ordinances or specific plans for infill development.  Status: Died in the Assembly Local Government Committee.

SB 1056 (Alarcón) and SB 1641 (Alarcón) require cities and counties to prepare economic impact reports before acting on the construction of superstore retailers.  Status: SB 1056 was vetoed; SB 1641 died in the Senate Local Government Committee.

SB 1820 (Machado) changes the method for determining property values when canceling a Williamson Act contract.  Status: Signed; Chapter 794, Statutes of 2004.

AB 502 (Canciamilla) allows an applicant for natural gas exploration or production permits to pay for expedited permit processing.  Status: Signed; Chapter 439, Statutes of 2004.

AB 1320 (Dutra) makes it easier for cities and counties to designate transit villages.  Status: Signed; Chapter 42, Statutes of 2004.

AB 1192 (Dutra) requires counties and cities to be solely responsible for the law prohibiting reducing residential densities.  Status: Signed; Chapter 10, Statutes of 2004.

AB 1903 (Maddox) requires cities and counties to use “no less favorable” standards when acting on land use decisions that affect religious institutions and assemblies.  Status: Died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

AB 2055 (Wolk) renames the general plans’ open space element as the “agricultural and open space element” and recognizes agricultural land as a separate component of open space land.  Status: Vetoed.

AB 2473 (Wolk) revises the Solar Rights Act, continuing the state’s preemption of local control over the installation of solar energy devices.  Status: Signed; Chapter 789, Statutes of 2004.

AB 3065 (Kehoe) expands the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection’s review of the general plans’ safety elements in counties and cities that contain State Responsibility Area land and very high fire hazard severity zones.  Status: Signed; Chapter 951, Statutes of 2004.


SB 1266 (Torlakson) expands from 75 acres to 150 acres the size of county islands that are eligible for expedited city annexations.  Status: Signed; Chapter 96, Statutes of 2004.

SB 1607 (Machado) prohibits LAFCOs from putting land located in the Delta Protection Commission’s primary zone into the sphere of influence or boundary of a city or special district that provides sewers, nonagricultural water, or roads.  Status: Failed in the Senate Local Government Committee.

AB 2067 (Harman) allows the consolidation of special districts that operate under different principal acts.  Status: Signed; Chapter 471.

AB 2306 (Richman) prohibits the Ventura LAFCO from requiring the City of Simi Valley to annex its county islands as a condition of other city annexations.  Status: Signed; Chapter 805, Statutes of 2004.

AB 3077 (Assembly Local Government Committee) makes 11 changes to the state laws governing local boundaries, including the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Act.  Status: Signed; Chapter 355, Statutes of 2004.


*SB 592 (Denham) reimburses Stanislaus County’s investigation and prosecution costs in the Scott Peterson case, reimburses small counties’ homicide trial costs, and sets standards for reimbursing counties’ homicide trial costs.  Contingent on the enactment of AB 1075 (Matthews). Status: Died on the Senate Floor.

*SB 1096 (Senate Budget Committee) is the Budget trailer bill that shifts $1.3 billion in property tax revenues from counties, cities, special districts, and redevelopment agencies to ERAF during 2004-05 and again in 2005-06.  Status: Signed; Chapter 211, Statutes of 2004.

*SB 1102 (Senate Budget Committee) is the Budget trailer bill that revises several state-local programs, including reimbursements for county sheriffs’ booking fees and the Santa Barbara County Formation Commission.  Status: Signed; Chapter 227, Statutes of 2004.

SB 1212 (Ducheny), SB 1774 (Johnson), SCA 21 (Torlakson), and SCA 22 (Johnson) propose reforms to the state-local fiscal relationship.  Status: SB 1212 died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee; SB 1774 died in the Assembly Local Government Committee; SCA 21 died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee; SCA 22 died in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

SB 1404 (Soto) allows cities and counties to set up Multifamily Improvement Districts and finance neighborhood projects and programs with benefit assessments.  Status: Signed; Chapter 526, Statutes of 2004.

SB 1770 (Senate Local Government Committee) allows special districts to borrow money using securitized limited obligation notes (SLONs).  Status: Signed; Chapter 114, Statutes of 2004.

SB 1808 (Senate Local Government Committee) revises the base year for state reimbursement of local booking fees to 2002-03, and sunsets the reimbursements in 2007.  Status: Died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee (but see SB 1102, above).

SB 1905 (Torlakson) deregulates county agriculture commissioners’ fees, including fees for inspecting commercial weighing and measuring devices.  Status: Failed in the Senate Local Government Committee.

*SB 1909 (Machado) gives Orange and Yolo counties bigger shares of property tax revenues, paid from ERAF and the State General Fund.  Status: Vetoed.

*SCA 4 (Torlakson) protects local governments from future revenue shifts and from unfunded state mandates. (Originally SCA 9, Torlakson.)  Status: Proposition 1-A on the November 2, 2004 ballot.

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: Died on Senate Floor Inactive File.

AB 723 (Matthews) allows local officials to use Infrastructure Finance Districts to finance Jobs-Housing Opportunity Zones.  Status: Died on the Senate Floor Inactive File.

AB 1075 (Matthews) reimburses Stanislaus County’s prosecution costs in the Scott Peterson case, sets standards for reimbursing counties’ homicide trial costs, and reimburses small cities and counties’ murdered peace officers’ investigation and suspect apprehension costs.  Contingent on the enactment of SB 592 (Denham).  Status: Vetoed.

AB 2115 (Assembly Budget Committee) makes changes to the SB 1102, the Budget trailer bill on state-local fiscal affairs.  Status: Signed; Chapter 610, Statutes of 2004.

AB 2805 (Ridley-Thomas) allows Los Angeles officials to extend the Hoover Redevelopment Project Area to help rebuild the Memorial Coliseum, with approval from the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank.  Status: Signed; Chapter 954, Statutes of 2004.

AB 2851 (Laird), AB 2853 (Laird), and AB 2856 (Laird) repeal specific state-mandated local programs and reform the processes for reimbursing the local costs of state mandates.  Status: Signed; Chapters 316, 889, and 890, Statutes of 2004.

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

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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:


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Proposition 65: Local Government Funds, Revenues, State Mandates was the subject of a joint hearing with the Assembly Local Government Committee.  The Committee also held an interim hearing on Best Practices: Successful Infill Development Strategies and Tactics.  Summary reports from these hearings are available for purchase from Senate Publications at (916) 327-2155.

In November, the Committee will convene a Working Group to rewrite the Community Services District Law.  The Committee plans to introduce the results as a bill in 2005.

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The Legislature will convene for the 2005-06 Session on Monday, December 6, 2005.

Committee Address