Archives: January 2013

2012 Legislative Wrap-Up

Governor Brown signed over 80 environmental, energy, and land use bills into law at the end of the 2012 legislative cycle. This is a selective list of key bills of general applicability, effective January 1, 2013.


AB 890 (Olsen, Perea) adds section 21080.37 to the Public Resources Code, exempting from CEQA until 2016 the repair, maintenance, and minor alterations of existing roadways, provided the proposed project is initiated by a city or county to improve public safety, does not cross a waterway, and involves negligible or no expansion of an existing use. AB 890 applies to municipalities of less than 100,000 people.

AB 1665 (Galgiani) adds section 21080.14 to the Public Resources Code, exempting closure of railroad grade crossings from CEQA for public safety reasons, in accordance with the California Public Utilities Commission’s regulations.

AB 2245 (Smyth) modifies section 21090.20.5 of the Public Resources Code, exempting from CEQA until 2018 projects that consist of restriping of streets and highways for bicycle lanes in an urbanized area that is consistent with a city or county bicycle transportation plan. The exemption requires the lead agency to follow specified notice and traffic impact assessment requirements, including additional public review.

AB 2564 (Ma) adds section 21080.21 to the Public Resources Code, and exempts pipeline safety projects under one mile in length from CEQA, per specified requirements.

SB 972 (Simitian) amends sections 21083.9 and 21092.2, and repeals section 21162 of the Public Resources Code, requiring lead agencies to provide written notice of scoping meetings and notices of completion of EIRs and other CEQA determinations to local agencies, upon written request. SB 972 ensures that local agencies will receive the same convenient access to information as individuals and organizations.  

Climate Change

AB 296 (Skinner) adds section 18941.9 to the Health and Safety Code and adds Part 5 to Division 34 of the Public Resources Code to require Caltrans to develop a standard specification for sustainable or cool pavements that can be used to reduce the urban heat island effect. AB 296 also requires the California Building Standards Commission to consider incorporating that specification as an additional strategy in the California Green Building Standards Code.

SB 1066 (Lieu) adds section 31113 to the Public Resources Code to authorize the State Coastal Conservancy to address the impacts of climate change on resources within its jurisdiction.


AB 2196 (Chesboro) amends section 25741 of the Public Resources Code, and adds section 399.12.6 to the Public Utilities Code to expand the eligibility of biofuels under the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission’s renewable energy resource and electricity generation programs.

SB 1222 (Leno) adds Chapter 7.5, commencing with section 66015, to the Government Code to place limitations and restrictions on the permit fees charged by a city or country for residential and commercial rooftop solar energy systems.

SB 1122 (Rubio) amends section 399.20 of the Public Utilities Code to require the California Public Utilities Commission to procure specified generating capacity from bioenergy projects that commence operation after June 2013.

SB 1268 (Pavley) amends section 25411, 25415, 25421, 25443, and 25449.4 and adds section 25412.5 and 25442.8 to the Public Resources Code, extending programs for grants and loans to local governments and public institutions from the California Energy Commission to maximize energy use savings from January 2013 to January 2018. SB 1268 also improves the loan program to local governments by reducing interest rates, and encouraging equitable distribution of loans statewide with an emphasis on disadvantaged communities.

High Speed Rail

AB 16 (Perea) adds section 185036.1 to the Public Utilities Code, encouraging the High Speed Rail Authority to acquire equipment manufactured in California.

Land Use

SB 1094 (Kehoe) amends sections 65965, 65966, 65967 and 65968 of the Government Code to comprehensively modify provisions for state conservation trust land and mitigation agreement programs.

Planning and Local Government

AB 1585 (J. Perez) amends section 34176 of the Health and Safety Code to appropriate $50 million in disencumbered Prop 1C bonds and future disencumbered funds for the Infill Infrastructure Program and the Transit-Oriented Development Program.


AB 685 (Eng) adds section 106.3 to the Water Code, requiring state water policy to consider use of water for domestic purposes as the highest use.

AB 1650 (Portantino) adds section 768.6 to the Public Utilities Code, requiring the California Public Utilities Commission to set standards for local government emergency preparedness plans and for utilities to adopt these plans.

AB 1750 (Solorio) amends section 7027.5 of the Business and Professions Code and adds part 2.4 to the Water Code, allowing landscape contractors to install rainwater capture systems and clarifying that rainwater systems do not require water rights permits.

For a complete list of bills signed into law at the end of 2012, please see “The 2012 New Laws Report,” available at For a more complete summary of environmental, energy, climate change and land use bills that passed the Legislature, not all of which were signed by the Governor, please see The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research Legislative Bill Summary, available at

Holland & Knight Study Concludes that Infill Development Projects are a Common Target of CEQA Suits

According to a recent Holland & Knight study based on published CEQA opinions from 1997 to 2012, more than half of the challenged projects in cases reviewed were infill development projects. Holland & Knight based its conclusions on a review of 95 published Court of Appeal and California Supreme Court decisions. The firm’s analysis also concluded that, in those published cases, more than a third of projects challenged were public works projects. The most commonly-challenged types of projects, according to the study, involved public infrastructure (19%) and mixed-used developments (19%). These results do not include any analysis of unpublished Court of Appeal cases.

A full copy of the Holland & Knight study can be found here:

California Department of Fish and Game Changes Its Name

As of January 1, 2013, the Department of Fish and Game will be known as the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW). Governor Brown signed AB 2402 into law on September 25, 2012, thereby enacting the name change. DFW will use new internet ( and email addresses, but the old URL and email addresses will continue to work indefinitely. Many department materials will still use the old name, however. AB 2402 reduced the cost associated with the name change by preventing DFW from undergoing a wholesale turnover of materials.

According to DFW, the name was changed to better reflect its evolving responsibilities. Congressman Huffman, who introduced the bill when he was still in the California Assembly, further commented that the old name reflected previous duties of the agency to set hunting seasons and limits. DFW’s mission continues to be “to manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife, and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public.”

Twelve states continue to use “game” in the name of the agency overseeing wildlife (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia and Wyoming).

For further information, please see: and

Court upholds EIR for redevelopment of Treasure Island

On December 14, 2012, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Teri Jackson issued her ruling on pending litigation challenging the Environmental Impact Report prepared for a plan to redevelop Treasure Island.  Judge Jackson ruled the City of San Francisco had complied with CEQA in certifying the EIR and approving the plan.  The plan, approved by the Board of Supervisors in June 2011, calls for 8,000 residential units, commercial and office uses, and roughly 300 acres of open space.  The lawsuit raised a wide range of claims regarding the EIR.  Judge Jackson rejected these claims and denied the petition.  RMM partners Whit Manley and Chip Wilkins and Senior Associate Jennifer Holman represented Treasure Island Community Development, the developer who worked with the City to formulate the plan.