Leg Tracker: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

It was a banner year for Bay Area Council legislation on a range of issues, but the overall picture from Sacramento was far less sanguine when it comes to priorities for California’s business community and strengthening the state’s economic competitiveness. Organized labor and progressives showed again why they are a dominating force in California politics, and why it’s imperative that the business community elevate its game.

In a Politico story this week highlighting labor’s legislative successes this session, Council CEO Jim Wunderman expressed the frustration that many business leaders across the state feel that their voice is not being heard: “On the business side, we’re not feeling like we have a seat at the table, and we need to earn one and we need to do it quickly.”

Hence, the recent creation of the New California Coalition (NCC) of statewide business and regional groups aligned around strong economy principles, co-led by Wunderman and  LA BizFed CEO Tracy Hernandez. NCC was influential in helping Governor Newsom recently pass his slate of CEQA-related reforms to enable green infrastructure.  More news on NCC next week.  

On the good news front, five measures sponsored by the Council await Gov. Newsom’s signature:

  • AB 1033 (Ting): allows condo ADUs and ADU sales. 
  • AB 1114 (Haney): end discretionary post entitlement permitting.
  • AB 1287 (Alvarez):Requires a city, county, or city and county to grant additional density and concessions and incentives if an applicant agrees to include additional low- or moderate-income units on top of the maximum amount of units for lower, very low, or moderate income units.
  • AB 1633 (Ting):Establishes Housing Accountability Act penalties for wrongful denials via CEQA, putting a stop to denials like the well-publicized 469 Stevenson project in San Francisco.
  • SB 76 (Wiener): Allows development of entertainment zones that provide for engagement of brick-and-mortar bars and restaurants in San Francisco. 

In addition to AB 1633, which is one of the most impactful housing related bills this session, the Council has strongly urged the Governor to sign SB 4 and SB 423 by Senator Wiener (D-San Francisco). SB 4, aka the ““Yes in Gods Backyard” bill, would dramatically streamline housing approval on land owned by an independent institution of higher education or a religious institution. SB 423 extends the sunset for Senator Wiener’s SB 35 (2017), one of the state’s most successful tools for accelerating development of affordable housing.

Other positive developments and priorities for the Bay Area Council was the defeat of ACA 6 (Haney), which proposed imposing state labor standards on the UC system, and AB 1000 (Reyes), which would impose strict requirements for the construction of logistics facilities and warehouses throughout California.

However, the session was marked with the passage of several bad bills of priority to the Council, namely SB 799 (Portantino), which extends unemployment insurance to striking workers, and AB 316 (Aguiar-Curry), which stifles innovation and effectively kills the pathway to fully autonomous trucks in California. The Council is currently activating members and partners to urge that the Governor veto both of these harmful measures. The Council is also urging Gov. Newsom’s veto of AB 819 (Bryan), which would reduce penalties for fare evasion on public transit.

The Council extends its thanks to Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP for their leadership in guiding our legislative efforts and helping secure passage of many of our bills. We encourage you to read Brownstein’s full end-of-session recap.

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