BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 931
                                                                  Page 1

          Date of Hearing:  April 25, 2011

                       ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES
                                Wesley Chesbro, Chair
                   AB 931 (Dickinson) - As Amended:  April 15, 2011
           
          SUBJECT  :  Environment:  CEQA exemption:  housing projects

           SUMMARY  :  Increases the maximum retail use from 15 to 25 percent 
          in the definition of "residential" for purposes of an existing 
          California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exemption for infill 
          housing projects meeting specified criteria.

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)CEQA requires lead agencies with the principal responsibility 
            for carrying out or approving a proposed project to prepare a 
            negative declaration, mitigated declaration, or environmental 
            impact report (EIR) for this action, unless the project is 
            exempt from CEQA (CEQA includes various statutory exemptions, 
            as well as categorical exemptions in the CEQA guidelines).

          2)Exempts from CEQA specified residential housing projects which 
            meet criteria established to ensure the project does not have 
            a significant effect on the environment (SB 1925 (Sher), 
            Chapter 1039, Statutes of 2002).  The SB 1925 exemptions are 
            available to:  

             a)   affordable agricultural housing projects not more than 
               45 units within a city, or 20 units within an agricultural 
               zone, on a site not more than five acres in size; 

             b)   affordable urban housing projects not more than 100 
               units on a site not more than five acres in size; and,

             c)   urban infill housing projects not more than 100 units on 
               a site not more than four acres in size which is within 
               one-half mile of a major transit stop.  Among other 
               criteria, retail uses may not exceed 15 percent of the 
               total floor area of these projects.

          3)Requires metropolitan planning organizations to include a 
            sustainable communities strategy (SCS), as defined, in their 
            regional transportation plans, or an alternative planning 
            strategy (APS), for the purpose of reducing GHG emissions, 








                                                                  AB 931
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            aligns planning for transportation and housing, and creates 
            specified incentives for the implementation of the strategies 
            (SB 375 (Steinberg), Chapter 728, Statutes of 2008).  
            Specifically, as it relates to the provisions of this bill, SB 
            375 specifies that, if a residential or mixed-use residential 
            project is consistent with the use designation, density, 
            building intensity, and applicable policies specified for the 
            project area in either an approved SCS or APS, and if the 
            project incorporates the mitigation measures required by an 
            applicable prior environmental document, any findings or other 
            determinations for an exemption, a negative declaration, a 
            mitigated negative declaration, an EIR, or addenda prepared or 
            adopted for the project pursuant to CEQA shall not be required 
            to reference, describe, or discuss growth inducing impacts or 
            any project specific or cumulative impacts from cars and 
            light-duty truck trips generated by the project on global 
            warming or the regional transportation network.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  Unknown
           COMMENTS  :

           1)CEQA overview.   CEQA provides a process for evaluating the 
            environmental effects of applicable projects undertaken or 
            approved by public agencies.  If a project is not exempt from 
            CEQA, an initial study is prepared to determine whether the 
            project may have a significant effect on the environment.  If 
            the initial study shows that there would not be a significant 
            effect on the environment, the lead agency must prepare a 
            negative declaration.  If the initial study shows that the 
            project may have a significant effect on the environment, the 
            lead agency must prepare an EIR.  

              a)   Generally, an EIR must accurately describe the proposed 
               project, identify and analyze each significant 
               environmental impact expected to result from the proposed 
               project, identify mitigation measures to reduce those 
               impacts to the extent feasible, and evaluate a range of 
               reasonable alternatives to the proposed project.  Prior to 
               approving any project that has received environmental 
               review, an agency must make certain findings.  If 
               mitigation measures are required or incorporated into a 
               project, the agency must adopt a reporting or monitoring 
               program to ensure compliance with those measures.
              
          2)Existing housing exemptions.   SB 1925, enacted in 2002, 








                                                                  AB 931
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            exempts from CEQA certain residential projects providing 
            affordable urban or agricultural housing, or located on an 
            infill site within an urbanized area, and meeting specified 
            unit and acreage criteria.  The stated intent of the 
            Legislature in enacting those provisions included "creating a 
            streamlined procedure for agricultural employee housing, 
            affordable housing, and urban infill housing projects that do 
            not have an adverse effect on the environment."  
             
             a)   SB 1925 defines "infill site" as a site in an urbanized 
               area that meets either of the following criteria:

             b)   Immediately adjacent parcels are developed with 
               qualified urban uses or at least 75 percent of the 
               perimeter of the site adjoins parcels that are developed 
               with qualified urban uses and the remaining 25 percent of 
               the site adjoins parcels that have been previously 
               developed for qualified urban uses, and the site itself has 
               not been developed for urban uses and no parcel within the 
               site has been created within the past 10 years.

             c)   The site itself has been previously developed for 
               qualified urban uses.
             
          3)Double referral.   This bill is double-referred to the Housing 
            and Community Development Committee.  
           
           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION :

           Support  :
          None on file  
           
           Opposition  :
          None on file  


          Analysis Prepared by  :  Lawrence Lingbloom / NAT. RES. / (916) 
          319-2092