In With the New – Part Six
BBK’s New Law Guidance for a Well-Informed Start to 2023
In Part Six of our “In With the New” series, Best Best & Krieger LLP covers important new legislation related to environmental matters, housing and public employment. Below, you will find takeaways and analyses of the following: AB 1811, AB 1648, AB 1445, SB 1338 and SB 1131.
Under existing law, local agencies are authorized to prepare plans for flood protection. Under newly adopted AB 1811, which amends Water Code section 8201 as of January 1, 2023, if a local agency does adopt a local flood protection plan, it must now include a strategy to address not only the relevant flood risk and system resiliency, but also climate change, rainwater, and stormwater management. Further, the plan must now include an update on the status of coordination with water suppliers on how the management of any floodwaters can bolster the local water supply. If your agency adopted a local flood protection plan, please contact an attorney to determine how best to amend the existing plan to address the updated requirements of Water Code section 8201.
Assembly Bill 1648 updates the current law related to disaster preparedness for animals, by adding Section 8608.1 to the Government Code. Under existing law, the Office of Emergency Services is required to develop a standardized emergency management system in coordination with state agencies and local emergency management agencies. This system includes the California Animal Response Emergency System (CARES) program, which the Department of Food and Agriculture oversees.
Under AB 1648, cities or counties that require a kennel license or permit to operate a kennel within their jurisdiction must require the kennel owner(s) to create and submit an animal natural disaster evacuation plan as a condition for obtaining the license or permit. This legislation imposes a new requirement on local governments and is considered a state-mandated local program.
California’s recent wildfires have shown the importance of evacuation plans for animals. With proper planning, animals could avoid injuries during disasters. AB 1648 aims to help families evacuate with their pets, potentially saving animals and reducing the burden on first responders.
State law currently requires each county and city in California to adopt a comprehensive general plan, which must include (among other things) a housing element. For each housing element in its fourth or subsequent iteration, the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) determines the existing and projected need for housing for that region, commonly referred to as that jurisdiction’s “RHNA number.” In turn, each regional “council of governments” – or HCD, if there is no regional council of governments – allocates a share of the RHNA number to each city and county within that region through adoption of a final “regional housing need plan.” Historically, in adopting this regional housing need plan, the council of governments was required to adopt a methodology for distributing the existing and projected housing needs among its cities and counties. The adopted methodology was required to include certain factors, including but not limited to each member jurisdiction’s jobs and housing relationships, opportunities and constraints for developing additional housing, income level and housing relationships and homelessness concerns.
Under AB 1445, which amends Government Code sections 65584.04 and 65584.06 and takes effect January 1, 2025, each council of governments need only “consider including” the statutory factors in developing their methodology – they are no longer necessarily required to include every single factor in the methodology. The bill also added a new suggested consideration for the methodology: emergency evacuation route capacity, wildfire risk, sea level rise, and other potential climate change impacts that could affect housing needs. The bill is intended to ensure that local governments take into account the effects of climate change when developing housing policy, although it does not strictly require such considerations.
Housing and the Unhoused
Senate Bill 1338 “Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Court Program” will provide upstream assistance to thousands of Californians suffering from untreated schizophrenia spectrum, psychotic, and substance use disorders. It requires an initial “cohort” of counties—Glenn, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne, and the City and County of San Francisco—to implement the program no later than Fall 2023. All remaining counties must implement the program by December 1, 2024.
Safe at Home is a confidential address program administered by the California Secretary of State’s office that offers victims of domestic violence, reproductive health care service providers, employees, volunteers and patients a substitute mailing address to receive first-class, certified and registered mail. The purpose of the substitute address is to keep residential addresses confidential in public records and protect the identity of the individual under certain conditions. The address is accepted by California state, county and city government agencies in lieu of a residential or other mailing address where a victim can be tracked down.
SB 1131 expands the Safe at Home program to election workers and other public employees who are subject to harassment, violence or threats of violence for the purposes of shielding their home addresses from the public eye. Further, the applicant seeking address confidentiality (rather than a representative of the facility) is permitted to submit a certified statement detailing their own experiences with threats, harassment or violence in connection with the reproductive health care facility or a restraining order issued due to such experiences, as a reason for seeking address confidentiality. Previously, to qualify for this program, an applicant was required to provide a certified statement from someone at the reproductive health care services facility stating that the facility or its associates have experienced threats or acts of violence within the past year. Making false statements on the application is a misdemeanor.
SB 1131 was passed with an urgency clause, meaning it took effect immediately after Governor Newsom signed it.
Disclaimer: BBK Legal Alerts are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts, facts specific to your situation, or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information herein.