Staff Report and Recommendation on Pending Legislation

(For Commission consideration on April 15, 2021)

Summary and Recommendations

The following state and federal legislation is of interest to the Commission. Since it is early in the session, several of the bills are still “spot” bills that will be amended to provide more substantive language, and several bills covering a similar topic may be combined.

The staff recommends that the Commission support the following bills: (1) H.R. 610 (Speier), The San Francisco Bay Restoration Act; (2) SB 1 (Atkins), Coastal resources: sea level rise; (3) AB 67 (Petrie-Norris), Sea level rise: working group: economic analysis; and (4) AB 897 (Mullin), Office of Planning and Research: regional climate networks: climate adaptation action plans.

Staff Report

There are multiple bills of interest to the Commission in the first year of the Legislature’s current two-year session.

H.R. 610. The San Francisco Bay Restoration Act

This bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Jackie Speier of San Mateo. It is currently pending in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The bill would provide $50 million in federal funding annually for five years to help restore the San Francisco Bay, resulting in a total of $250 million to revive Bay Area wetlands, improve water quality, and help protect coastal communities from rising sea level. This bill would provide needed funds to restore and preserve the Bay.

Staff Recommendation. Staff recommends that the Commission support H.R. 610.

Senate Bill 1.Coastal resources: Program for Coastal Resilience, Adaptation, and Access

Introduced by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins of San Diego, the bill is pending in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.

Among other purposes, this bill would create within the Ocean Protection Council the California Sea Level Rise State and Regional Support Collaborative. The bill would require the collaborative to provide state and regional information to the public, and support to local, regional, and other state agencies to identify, assess, plan, and, where feasible, mitigate the adverse environmental, social, and economic effects of rising sea level. The bill explicitly includes the jurisdictions of BCDC and the Coastal Commission, and work pursuant to the bill would be done consistent with their statutory authorities.

The bill would require the collaborative, upon an appropriation in the annual Budget Act, to expend up to $100,000,000 annually from appropriate bond funds and other sources to make grants to local governments, to update local and regional land use plans to take into account sea level rise and for investments directly related to implementing those plans. The bill would require the Secretary for Environmental Protection and the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, as part of the adoption of the annual Budget Act, to appear before the budget committees of both houses of the Legislature to explain how the law is being implemented. 

Funding for the existing Environmental Justice Small Grant Program under the jurisdiction of the California Environmental Protection Agency, whose purpose is to provide grants to eligible community groups that are located in areas adversely affected by environmental pollution and hazards and that are involved in work to address environmental justice issues, would be increased from $1.5 million annually to $2 million annually, and would require up to $500,000 of those grants be made to organizations working to address and mitigate the effects of sea level rise in disadvantaged communities, as defined, impacted by sea level rise.

The bill provides for support and funding to address rising sea level, including frontline communities, and includes the coastal management agencies as part of bill implementation.

Staff Recommendation. Support.

Assembly Bill 67. Sea level rise: working group: economic analysis

Introduced by Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (Orange County), the bill is pending in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.

This bill would require state agencies to take current and future sea level rise into account when planning, designing, building, operating, maintaining, or investing in state infrastructure located in the coastal zone or otherwise subject to flooding from sea level rise or storm surges. The bill would provide that new or expanded infrastructure built pursuant to the above-described provision shall qualify for state funds only if the project is not anticipated to be vulnerable to sea level rise risks during the life of that project. The bill would provide that specified projects may be exempt from the above-described analysis so long as the project design is resilient to mid-century sea level rise projections provided by the Ocean Protection Council and consistent with relevant state and local agency policies.

The bill would require the OPC, in consultation with the Office of Planning and Research, to establish a multi-agency working group that includes BCDC to develop, among other things, a standardized methodology to conduct economic analyses of the risks and adaptation strategies associated with sea level rise. The bill would require state agencies to conduct a sea level rise analysis for any state-funded infrastructure project located in the coastal zone or otherwise vulnerable to flooding from sea level rise pursuant to that methodology.

The bill would ensure that state-funded infrastructure is resilient to rising sea level and develop a consistent state-wide methodology to make such determinations.

Recommendation: Support. Staff will work with the author to further improve and refine the bill language.

Assembly Bill 897. Office of Planning and Research: regional climate networks: climate adaptation action plans.

This bill was introduced by Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (San Mateo) and is pending in the Assembly Natural Resources committee.

This bill would authorize eligible entities that range from cities to regional agencies, and include nonprofit and community-based organizations to establish and participate collaboratively in a regional climate network, and encourages including agencies with land use planning authority into regional climate networks. The bill would authorize a regional climate network to engage in activities to address climate change, as specified.

This bill would authorize such a regional climate network to develop a regional climate adaptation action plan, as described. The bill would require on or before July 1, 2022 that the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) establish geographic boundaries for regional climate networks, and to develop guidelines on how eligible entities may establish regional climate networks and how governance boards may be established within regional climate networks. The bill would also require OPR to develop and publish guidelines establishing how a regional climate network may develop a regional climate adaptation action plan, including specific information, analyses, and contents to be included in a plan and certain considerations and procedures for a regional climate network when preparing a plan.

This bill would require OPR to provide technical assistance to regions seeking to establish a regional climate network and to regional climate networks in developing regional climate adaptation action plans. The bill would require OPR to make recommendations to the Legislature on developing state support for the work of regional climate networks and the potential sources of financial assistance and options for distributing state funds to support the creation and implementation of regional climate adaptation action plans.

The bill would enable collaborative climate adaption networks to be created across the state, but recognizes the state’s diversity and does not mandate the specific makeup of such networks. The bill combines language from several other similar pending bills and is now co-authored by Assemblymembers Quirk, Ward, and Bennett.

Recommendation: Support.

Other Legislative Bills of Interest

The Commission staff will continue to follow the bills listed below.

Assembly Bill 11, Climate change: regional climate change authorities

Introduced by Assemblymember Christopher Ward (San Diego), this bill is pending in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee; however, as discussed previously, staff believes that this bill has been integrated into AB 789.

The bill would require the Strategic Growth Council to establish up to 12 regional climate change authorities by January 1, 2023 to support climate adaptation and mitigation activities in their regions and coordinate with other such authorities, state agencies, and other relevant stakeholders. The climate change authorities may engage in planning. The authorities may also administer grants to local entities.

Assembly Bill 51. Climate change: adaptation: regional plans

Introduced by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (Hayward), the bill is in Assembly Natural Resources Committee. However, as described previously, it is BCDC staff understanding that the bill language has been combined as part of AB 897 and Quirk is now a co-author of that bill.

This spot bill would require the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) to establish guidelines for the formation of regional climate adaptation planning groups, and develop criteria for their development.

Assembly Bill 72 Natural Resources Agency: coastal adaptation projects: sea level rise: regulatory review and permitting: report

Introduced by Cottie Petrie-Norris (Irvine), this bill is in Assembly Natural Resources committee.

This spot bill would authorize the CNRA to explore and implement options to increase the efficiency and coordination of coastal adaptation project review and permitting. The bill would require the agency to submit, by July 1, 2023, a report to the Legislature with additional suggestions and recommendations for improving and expediting the regulatory review and permitting process for coastal adaptation projects.

Senate Bill 83. Coastal resources: climate change: sea level rise

Introduced by Senator Benjamin Allen (Santa Monica) the bill is pending in the Senate Government and Finance committee.

This spot bill would create the Sea Level Rise Revolving Loan Program to provide low-interest loans to local governments to purchase threatened coastal properties vulnerable to sea level rise, subject to the approval of a “vulnerable coastal property plan.” The bill would authorize the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank to issue bonds, and require that all loan repayments, fees, and penalties be deposited in the fund. This bill is a reintroduction of AB 1293.

Senate Bill 449. Climate-related financial risk

This bill was introduced by Senator Henry Stern (Thousand Oaks). It is pending in the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions committee.

This bill would require a bank, corporation, credit union, finance lender, insurer, investment advisor, real estate investment trust, and mortgage lender to, before January 1, 2023 and annually thereafter, prepare a “climate-related financial risk report” and submit it to the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation for public review. The bill would also require those financial institutions to submit to the department a statement affirming that the climate-related financial risk report discloses all climate-related financial risk. By expanding the scope of the crime of perjury, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

This bill would also require the Governor, before January 1, 2023, to establish an advisory Climate Change Financial Risk Task Force to assess climate-related financial risk facing investors, corporations, banks, credit unions, mortgage lenders, insurers, and the state. The bill would require the task force to include certain members, including the Commissioner of Financial Protection and Innovation, the Treasurer, the Controller, and the Insurance Commissioner, and would require the task force to, among other things, annually prepare a report containing certain elements regarding climate-related financial risk reports. Staff will follow, and work to include BCDC in the task force, if appropriate.

Assembly Bill 620. Unified online environmental permit application

This bill was introduced by Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (San Mateo). It has not been referred to a committee.

This spot bill expresses the intent of the Legislature to enact subsequent legislation creating a unified online environmental permit application and process for state agencies that simplify the submittal and tracking of environmental permits for permit applicants and state agencies, and supports interagency coordination.

Assembly Bill 1384. Resiliency Through Adaptation, Economic Vitality, and Equity Act of 2022

This bill was introduced by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (Woodland Hills). It is pending in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.

This bill would require the Strategic Growth Council to develop and coordinate a strategic resiliency framework that makes recommendations and identifies actions that are necessary to prepare the state for the most significant climate change impacts modeled for 2025, 2050, and beyond, among other goals. The bill would require state agencies identified in the strategic resiliency framework to collaboratively engage with regional entities to enhance policy and funding coordination and promote regional solutions and implementation and to proactively engage vulnerable communities whose planning and project development efforts have been disproportionately impacted by climate change, as provided. The bill would authorize the Treasurer, and the financing authorities that the Treasurer chairs, to assist state agencies by leveraging public and private capital investment to help with loans and other incentives to attain the goals identified in the strategic resiliency framework.

Assembly Bill 1445. Planning and zoning: regional housing need allocation: climate change impacts

This bill was introduced by Assemblymember Marc Levine (Petaluma). It is pending in the Assembly Housing and Community Development committee.

This bill would require that councils of governments, as part of their allocation of regional housing needs, additionally consider among other factors emergency evacuation route capacity, wildfire risk, sea level rise, and other impacts caused by climate change. 

Bond Acts

Senate Bill 45. Wildfire Prevention, Safe Drinking Water, Drought Preparation, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2022

This bill was introduced by Senator Anthony Portantino (Glendale), and is pending in the Senate Governance and Finance committee. This proposed bond act, if approved by the voters, would authorize the issuance of bonds in the amount of $5.6 billion pursuant to the State General Obligation Bond Law to finance projects that prevent wildfires, create safe drinking water, prepare for drought, and protect from flooding.
This bond act would be submitted to  the voters at the November 8, 2022 statewide general election.

Staff will continue to follow the bill, and will work with the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) to ensure that its provisions apply to BCDC and communities located in BCDC’s jurisdiction.

Assembly Bill 1500. Safe Drinking Water, Wildfire Prevention, Drought Preparation, Flood Protection, Extreme Heat Mitigation, and Workforce Development Bond Act of 2022

This bill was introduced by Assemblymembers Eduardo Garcia (Coachella) and Kevin Mullin and is pending in the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife committee.
The bill would provide for a $6.7 billion resilience bond to be put before the voters in the November 2022 election.