The 2022 California legislative cycle wrapped up as Gov. Gavin Newsom signed dozens of bills last Friday. California legislators took on no shortage of ambitious proposals, with an unprecedented state budget surplus, hundreds of policy bills and a sweeping end-of-session climate package.
MTC and ABAG were deeply engaged in the state budget, which served as the vehicle for a $10.8 billion transportation package, new investments in affordable housing, and the legislative implementation of the 2021 federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. MTC and ABAG also took positions on several bills that were signed into law addressing transportation, housing and equity.
Governor Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 2594. The bill, authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting of San Francisco, is aligned with and builds upon the Bay Area Toll Authority’s ongoing (BATA) efforts to reduce the financial burden of toll penalties and provide low-income motorists with a payment plan option. Tolls play an increasingly important role in our state’s transportation system, serving as a tool to fund transportation improvements and as a climate strategy. However, left unpaid, tolls may result in penalties that can be financially burdensome for low-income motorists. AB 2594 removes excessive penalties that are still allowed under state law today and mandates toll operators across the state allow payment plans.
Assemblymember Ting worked closely with MTC/BATA and statewide partners throughout the legislative process to help ensure the bill balanced the need for BATA and other toll operators to be responsible stewards of toll facilities and toll funded projects while centering equity into what happens when tolls aren’t paid. The BATA Oversight Committee will be hearing about how BATA proposes to implement the legislation at its meeting on October 12.
Other legislation that was supported by MTC and/or ABAG and signed into law:
- Senate Bill 922, authored by State Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, was supported by MTC. It extends until 2030 what was just a two-year pilot program for CEQA exemptions on transit and bicycle/pedestrian projects. It also expands the scope of transit priority projects that are eligible for the CEQA exemption.
- Senate Bill 942, authored by State Sen. Josh Newman of Fullerton, was supported by MTC. The bill will strengthen the long-term viability of free or reduced fare transit ridership programs by permitting such programs to use Low Carbon Transportation Operations Program (LCTOP) revenues on a regular basis. This has the potential to support Clipper START and, depending on the bill’s implementation, the Bay Area’s ongoing fare integration efforts.
- MTC and ABAG adopted “support if amended” positions on Assembly Bill 2011, authored by Chair of the Assembly Housing Committee Buffy Wicks of Oakland, which streamlines certain affordable housing developments in underutilized commercial areas. The enacted bill reflects MTC/ABAG’s recommendation to honor the work local jurisdictions have already undertaken to accommodate infill residential development along commercial corridors. Another bill aimed at supporting housing in underutilized areas zoned for retail, office, and parking uses, Senate Bill 6 by State Sen. Anna Caballero of Merced, was also signed into law.
- Assembly Bill 2094, authored by Assemblymember Robert Rivas of Salinas, was supported by ABAG and signed by the Governor. It will improve statewide information about housing production that’s affordable to extremely low-income (ELI) households by requiring jurisdictions to report ELI housing production in their annual housing element progress reports. Better data will help inform state policy for allocating resources aimed at improving housing for ELI households.
- Assembly Bill 2805, authored by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan of Orinda, was supported by MTC. The bill will strengthen an important conservation and project delivery tool, the regional conservation and investment strategy (RCIS) program.
Additionally, several housing bills were also signed that are complementary to MTC’s newly adopted Transit Oriented Communities Policy, including Assembly Bill 2097 prohibiting minimum parking requirements, with exceptions. The bill was authored by Assembly Transportation Committee Chair Laura Friedman of Glendale.