Speaker's Commission
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California Planners Endorse Speaker's Commssion Rec's

Tony Lettieri,
By Tony Lettieri, AICP, CCAPA President

When we started the year, I said that we needed to focus our efforts on Sacramento. Specifically, the need to have a State Planning Policy Framework or even a State Plan. Without that direction from the State, major policy issues are continually decided on a case-by-case basis. Those policy issues include, to name just a few: long-term preservation of agricultural lands, state transportation and other infrastructure strategies, natural resource protection, and local government fiscal reform.

These are thorny issues that have, at best, been deferred and, at worst, been ignored. The cost is business as usual with sprawl being the dominant landform despite all of our rhetoric to the contrary. Of course, the other cost is disgust by the voters of California, manifested by the many citizen initiatives to control growth, and the limits of urban development.

At the CCAPA Conference in Long Beach, we discussed many issues, but one that will continue through next year is CCAPA's State Plan Task Force Initiative. We believe that it is imperative that the State set its own agenda, that it focus on the kind of statewide issues mentioned above, and that it get moving now. Under Ted Commerdinger's initiative, CCAPA members from all over the state drafted a report that focused on the issues and what to do about them. The goal is not only to influence legislation but also to create a State Planning Framework.

At the CCAPA Conference, a structure for preparation of a state
comprehensive plan was discussed. This structure was developed using a statutory model described in the Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook, Phases I & 2 Interim Edition published by the American Planning Association. CCAPA encourages the Governor and the Legislature to set up such a mechanism to define the state's priorities, which would then guide state decisions for allocating money and growth. The following are summaries of the first three positions regarding state planning. The first deals with recommended legislation to require a State Plan, the second with how that State Plan should be coordinated with existing legislation, and the third with CCAPA's position on recommendations of the Speakers Commission on State and Local Government Finance.

State of California Comprehensive Plan

The Office of the Governor shall prepare, with the involvement of the state legislature, all state agencies and the citizens of California, and adopt a state comprehensive plan. The plan shall articulate a vision of the potentials for the state and its citizens, and identify means for achieving those potentials.

The purpose of the state comprehensive plan is to ensure the coordinated, integrated, and orderly social, physical, and economic growth of the state that achieves statewide goals. The plan is to provide a basis for identifying critical issues facing the state, determining state priorities, allocating limited state resources, and harmonizing the plans of various state, regional, and local governmental units.

The state comprehensive plan shall be composed of goals and policies that are stated in plain, succinct, easily-understandable words to achieve the plan's vision. The goals and policies shall be statewide in scope or interest and shall be consistent and compatible with one another, but may address certain regions of the state, provided that there is statewide interest in so doing. The plan shall be a direction-setting document, giving policy guidance to state agencies, regional agencies and local governments, and shall also include a system of measurement to identify the extent to which the vision and its associated goals are being accomplished. The plan shall enumerate goals and policies regarding proposed or foreseeable changes in each of the following areas, based on relevant studies identified above, and shall describe how the selected goals and policies were derived from an assessment of their probable social, environmental, economic, and related consequences; natural resources; agriculture; urbanization; natural hazards and disasters; public safety; economic development; housing, including affordable housing; technological change; energy; transportation; governmental organization and intergovernmental relations, education; human and social services; recreational and cultural development; and citizen involvement.

Regional plans prepared by state and regional agencies shall be consistent with the state comprehensive plan. Each state and regional agency adopting a plan shall include within its plan a statement describing how such plan is consistent with the state comprehensive plan.

The Office of the Governor shall monitor the state's progress toward accomplishing the vision and goals of the comprehensive plan. On a biennial basis, the Office of the Governor shall review the state comprehensive plan with state agencies significantly affected by provisions of the plan, and may propose, in writing, amendments to the plan, accompanied by an explanation of the need for such amendments. Such amendments shall be approved in the same manner as the adoption of the original plan.

Tie the State's Annual Infrastructure Plan to the Policies of the State Plan for Growth

In 1999, Governor Gray Davis signed AB 1473, authored by now Speaker Bob Hertzberg. That bill requires the Governor, in conjunction with the Governor's Budget, to submit annually to the Legislature a proposed 5-year capital infrastructure plan. Beginning January 2002, the plan must identify the Governor's capital outlay policies and funding priorities for a 5-year period for infrastructure needed by state agencies, schools, and postsecondary institutions and a proposal for funding the needed infrastructure.

CCAPA supported this measure. However, we view it as an opportunity to steer funding to projects which meet or exceed the goals California has for the way the state wants to grow. Without this State Plan guide, this annual infrastructure plan will simply continue to allow the state to grow as other forces dictate -- for better or, most likely, worse -- and with state funding! It is critical that the State take the initiative to plan for California's growth, and then fund only those projects, at the state and local level, which are consistent with that plan. Without connecting a state plan with money, California will continue to abdicate its right to steer growth in the right direction.

The Speaker's Commission Knows Best: Enact Recommendation of the Speaker's Commission Conference Committee on Local Finance Reform

In March, 2000, the Speaker's Commission on State & Local Government Finance issued a report of recommendations on fiscal policy, local/state fiscal reform, and governmental accountability. CCAPA strongly supports the guiding concepts of the Commission:
  • The local finance system should facilitate balanced state, regional, and local conservation and development policies as well as finance local and regional services. In order to avoid dependence on one revenue source, local governments should derive their revenues from a diversity of sources, including property tax, sales tax, and general-purpose state subventions.
  • The finance base for local and regional services should be a constitutionally protected, stable, and reliable and be sufficient to assure basic services. The transparency of state and local government should be increased.

From those guiding concepts, the Commission made several recommendations for local fiscal reform, including:

  • Swap Sales Tax for Property Tax. Within each county, the county and each city would swap a portion of their locally levied sales tax with the State for an equal amount of the property tax.
  • Settle ERAF. The state would return $1 billion of property taxes to counties, cities, and special districts from the Education Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF) in each county or other State sources over time in annual installments, provided that the growth in any year of per capita non-Proposition 98 general fund revenue exceeds the statewide consumer price index for the prior year.
  • Make the Countywide Sales Tax Authority Permanent. The existing 5% transactions and use taxing authority would be moved into the Constitution so that voters, upon their approval of this proposal, would have the assurance that the revenues could not be used to supplant State spending.

CCAPA would also add:

  • Let the Majority of Voters Decide Local Funding Priorities. Place an amendment to the Constitution on the state ballot that would extend the majority vote to all local infrastructure bond measures.

Based on the Speaker's Commission suggestions, a conference committee has been meeting to finalize local finance reform recommendations, and look at bold solutions to these long-standing problems. CCAPA supports this effort, and looks forward to reviewing the final recommendations.

Develop Mechanisms to Promote Regional and Local Collaboration

In 1994, SB 517 (Bergeson -- Chapter #300) was signed into law. The bill enacted the Mediation and Resolution of Land Use Disputes statute to establish a formal mediation process for land use disputes. Specifically the bill:

  • Provides that specified land use actions may be subject to mediation and that within five days after the deadline for a respondent or defendant to reply to an action, the court may invite the parties to consider resolving the dispute by a mutually acceptable mediator.
  • Provides that if the court invites the parties to consider mediation, the parties shall notify the court within 30 days if they have selected a mutually acceptable person to serve as a mediator; if no selection is made within 30 days, the action will proceed; and the court cannot draw any implication, favorable or otherwise, from the refusal by a party to accept the invitation by the court to consider mediation.
  • Stays all applicable time limits with respect to the underlying action while the mediator conducts the mediation, provides for reactivation of the action under specified conditions, and prohibits the mediator from filing and a court from considering any declaration or finding by the mediator other than a required statement of agreement or non-agreement unless all parties agree in writing.
  • Requires the mediator to file a report within the Office of Permit Assistance; permits the Judicial Council to adopt rules, forms and standards necessary to implement the bill, and requires OPA, in cooperation with Judicial Council, to report to the Legislature regarding the implementation of this bill by January 1, 2001. Sunsets this process January 1, 2002.

CCAPA believes that this process should be:

  • Extended without a sunset.
  • Expanded to other local disputes that lead to a lawsuit.
  • Expanded to allow local agencies to initiate the process.

At the Bakersfield Conference, the membership asked that CCAPA take a leadership role in crafting legislation on state planning. With input from members throughout the state and other organizations, we have done that. Now we need to see it through.

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