A Well-Informed Start to 2024: BBK’s Guidance for New Laws in California – Part Five
New Legislation Related to Local Government
In Part Five of the New Law Guidance series from Best Best & Krieger LLP (BBK), we cover important new legislation for 2024 related to local government. Below we provide takeaways and analyses of AB 965, AB 1637, AB 1638, AB 1734, SB 329, SB 411, SB 748 and AB 1753.
AB 965 (Bill) requires California local agencies to undertake “batch broadband permit processing,” which is the simultaneous processing of multiple permit applications for substantially similar broadband project sites under a single permit effective January 1, 2024. “Broadband projects” can include any (or a combination of) wireless facilities, fiber optic connections, and other supporting equipment. Broadband project sites are considered “substantially similar” if they are “nearly identical in terms of equipment and general design, but not location.” Localities would be prudent to update their application forms and internal permit review workflow processes, and ensure staff are aware and ready to implement the new requirements.
- Cities with a population of less than 50,000 and counties with a population of less than 150,000 can place a limit of not less than 25 project sites under a single permit. For larger cities and counties, the minimum is 50 project sites.
- Where limited resources affect a local agency’s ability to process applications for a broadband project, local agencies must work with the applicant “in good faith” to resolve resource limitations which may include provision by the applicant of supplemental resources.
- Batch broadband permit processing for “wireless” broadband projects must be completed within the applicable Federal Communications Center shot clocks. The locality must either approve the wireless broadband projects and issue the permits or reject the applications and notify the applicants within the applicable FCC shot clock period to avoid a deemed approval pursuant to Government Code section 65964.1.
- The Bill does not apply to eligible facilities requests (a certain category of wireless applications that federal law requires local authorities to approve under short timelines or face a federal deemed grant). Poles located within the limits of the City and County of San Francisco that are used for the primary purpose of operating San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency public transit vehicles are exempt. Publicly owned electric utilities that are already required to give communications providers access to their utility poles under a 2011 state law (codified in Pub. Util. Code Section 9510 et seq.) are also not subject to this batch permitting bill.
AB 1637 (Bill) requires every city and county internet website to utilize either a “.gov” or a “.ca.gov” domain (or redirect its website to a “.gov” or “.ca.gov” domain) by January 1, 2029. The Bill also requires every city and county to ensure that each email address provided to its employees also utilizes a “.gov” domain or a “.ca.gov” domain. This Bill declares this is a matter of statewide concern and also applies to all California charter cities.
AB 1638 (Bill) adds a section to the Government Code (Gov. Code) relating to local public agencies providing non-English-speaking people a sufficient number of qualified bilingual persons in public contact positions or as interpreters to ensure provision of information and services in the language of the non-English-speaking person.
- The Bill requires providing emergency response services to a population of five percent (5%) or more of citizens who are deficient in English (according to American Community Survey date) local agencies to provide information related to the emergency in English and in all languages spoken jointly by the five percent (5%) or more of the population. (Gov. Code, § 7299.7 (a)) commencing January 1, 2025 in the event of an emergency within the jurisdiction of a local agency.
- The Bill requires local agencies to use data to determine which languages are spoken jointly by five percent (5%) or more of the population in its jurisdiction and to reassess that data every five (5) years. (Gov. Code § 7299.7 (b)(2)) by January 1, 2025.
- The Bill imposes various requirements on the manner in which information is provided in languages other than English such as:
- Ensuring that the quality of information translated and provided to individuals that speak English less than “very well” is as comprehensive, actionable and timely as the information provided to English-speaking persons.
- Endeavoring to utilize community members with the cultural competencies and language skills necessary to effectively communicate with those that speak English less than “very well” using native speakers of the relevant languages who also speak English fluently whenever feasible (Gov. Code, § 7299.7 (c)(1)-(2)).
- Fiscal Impact: The Bill does not appropriate funds for these new requirements; however, this Bill specifies this as a state mandate. Therefore, if the Commission on State Mandates determines the Bill contains costs mandated by the state, it shall reimburse those costs under the California Constitution. If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made.
AB 1734 (Bill) adds a section to the Government Code (Gov. Code) relating to local government requirements and procedures for assessment, declaration and disposition of surplus land.
- The Bill adds Government Code section 54222.3.1 which sunsets on January 1, 2034 (Gov. Code, § 54222.3.1 (i)).
- The Bill incentivizes cities with populations exceeding 2.5 million citizens to dispose of land for: (1) Low Barrier Navigation Centers; (2) Supportive Housing; (3) Transitional Housing for youth or young adults (12-24 years old); or Affordable Housing (Gov. Code, § 54222.3.1 (a)(1)-(4).) In doing so, the city may avoid the normal surplus land disposition process set forth in the Government Code, provided that the area is designated pro-housing under Govt. Code section 65589.9 and compliant with Department of Housing and Community Development laws.
- The Bill requires cities who utilize this program to dispose of surplus land pursuant to this law to include prescribed information in a specified annual report. (Gov. Code, § 54222.3.1 (e) et seq.). Any local agency that disposes of land in violation of these provisions is liable for a civil penalty of:
- 30% of the greater of the final sale price or fair market value of the land at disposition (or discounted net present value of the fair market value of the lease as of the date the lease was entered into) for the first violation.
- 50% of the greater of the final sale price or fair market value of the land at disposition (or discounted net present value of the fair market value of the lease as of the date the lease was entered into) for the second or subsequent violations.
- Fiscal Impact: The Bill does not appropriate funds for this initiative and no expected costs are associated with the change. Enforcement and auditing regarding verification of compliance and civil penalties will be done through the Department of Housing and Community Development.
SB 329 (Bill) constitutes an act to amend Section 36516 of the Government Code relating to local government.
Existing law authorizes a city council to enact an ordinance to provide each member of the city council a salary based upon the population of the city, as specified. Existing law further authorizes that amount to be increased by the city council by an amount that does not exceed five percent (5%) for each calendar year from the operative date of the last adjustment of the salary that is in effect when the increase is enacted. Existing law provides for the procedures by which a city may enact ordinances.
- The Bill would increase the maximum amount of salary that may be approved by an ordinance passed by the city council as specified based upon the population of the city.
- This Bill would authorize the salary of council members to be increased beyond the specified maximum to an amount not exceeding the following: (1) The greater of either five percent (5%) for each calendar year from the operative date of the last adjustment of the salary in effect when the ordinance or amendment is enacted, or (2) an amount equal to inflation since January 1, 2024, based upon the California Consumer Price Index (which shall not exceed 10% for each calendar year).
- The Bill would require the city council to consider the adoption of an ordinance to increase council member compensation in open session during at least two regular meetings of the city council.
The purpose of SB 411 (Bill) is to add and repeal Section 54953.8 of the Government Code relating to local government, and declaring the urgency thereof to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.
This Bill authorizes an eligible legislative body to use alternate teleconferencing provisions related to notice, agenda and public participation as prescribed until January 1, 2026, if two conditions are met: (1) The city council has adopted an authorizing resolution and (2) two-thirds (2/3) of an eligible legislative body votes to use the alternate teleconferencing provisions. The Bill defines “eligible legislative body” for this purpose to mean a neighborhood council that is an advisory body with the purpose of promoting more citizen participation in government and making government more responsive to local needs. The eligible legislative body must be established pursuant to the charter of a city with a population of more than 3,000,000 people.
- This Bill requires an eligible legislative body authorized under the Bill to provide publicly accessible physical locations for public participation as prescribed.
- The Bill requires that at least a quorum of the members of the neighborhood council participate from locations within the boundaries of the city in which the neighborhood council is established.
- This Bill requires that a quorum of the members of the eligible legislative body participate in person from a singular physical location that is open to the public and within the boundaries of the eligible legislative body at least once per year.
SB 748 (Bill) requires a city or county to provide a statement to an applicant for business license or permit and to an applicant for the renewal of a business license or permit about the applicant’s obligation to make their property and website compliant with state and federal disability law on and after January 1, 2024.
The Bill provides the text of the statement that must be provided to each applicant, which encourages the applicant to obtain a Certified Access Specialist inspection and obtain additional information about how to comply with disability laws.
AB 1753 (Bill) amends the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) law to explicitly cross-reference a current requirement of executive officers as found in Revenue and Taxation Code (Tax Code). Existing law (particularly the section pertaining to when the executive officer is to issue a certificate of filing (Government Code Section 56658)) makes no reference to Section 99 of the Tax Code.
- Section 99 specifically provides that the LAFCO executive officer shall not issue a certificate of filing unless or until a property tax-sharing agreement has been adopted to prevent executive officers from mistakenly issuing certificates of filing prematurely and in violation of Section 99.
- Adding this cross-reference to Government Code Section 56658 will help ensure LAFCO executive officers are aware of this requirement and implement the law accordingly.
- This Bill would now allow an executive officer to email or other form of delivery (rather than only mail) a copy of a resolution adopted by the LAFCO to the proponents and each local agency affected by a proposal.
- The Bill requires the confirmation of the receipt of a copy of the resolution if transmitted using email or electronic means.
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.