BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 2245
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          Date of Hearing:  May 7, 2012

                       ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES
                                Wesley Chesbro, Chair
                    AB 2245 (Smyth) - As Amended:  March 15, 2012
           
          SUBJECT  :  California Environmental Quality Act:  exemption:  
          bikeways

           SUMMARY  :  Exempts from CEQA a project for Class II bikeways, as 
          defined, undertaken by a city or county within an existing road 
          right-of-way.

           EXISTING LAW  requires lead agencies with the principal 
          responsibility for carrying out or approving a proposed project 
          to prepare a negative declaration, mitigated negative 
          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).

           THIS BILL  :

          1)Exempts from CEQA a project for Class II bikeways undertaken 
            by a city or county within an existing road right-of-way.

          2)Defines Class II bikeways by reference as facilities that 
            provide primarily for bicycle travel, such as a "bike lane," 
            which provide a restricted right-of-way designated for the 
            exclusive or semi-exclusive use of bicycles with through 
            travel by motor vehicles or pedestrians prohibited, but with 
            vehicle parking and cross-flows by pedestrians and motorists 
            permitted.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  Non-fiscal

           COMMENTS  :

           1)Background.   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 








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            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.  
             
            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)Need for the bill.   According to the author:  

                Current law requires transportation projects to undergo 
               rigorous environmental review - this currently extends to 
               the re-striping of a road that has already undergone CEQA 
               review.  As gas prices continue to escalate and we ramp up 
               efforts to curb emissions, it is incumbent upon the state 
               to encourage the development of more bike-able communities. 
               AB 2245 will achieve this by exempting Class II bike lanes, 
               those created by restriping existing roadways, from CEQA.   


               The County of Los Angeles just recently approved an 
               ambitious plan to add 832 miles of new bikeways.  Many of 
               these will be of the Class II variety where simple 
               restriping is all that is need to connect communities for 
               non-motorized travel.  Class I and III bikeways where new 
               paths are being constructed through the environment will 
               not be exempted under this bill, requiring those to 
               continue to undergo CEQA review.         
             
          3)Are bike lane projects subject to environmental review now?   
            Existing law appears to contain alternatives to full-blown 
            CEQA review with preparation of an EIR for bike lane projects. 
             First, there is a statutory exemption for "a project for 
            restriping of streets or highways to relieve traffic 
            congestion" (Section 21080.19).  Second, the CEQA Guidelines 
            provide two possible categorical exemptions:  (1) work on 
            existing facilities where there is negligible expansion of an 
            existing use, specifically including "(e)xisting highways and 








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            streets, sidewalks, gutters, bicycle and pedestrian trails 
            (emphasis added), and similar facilities" (Section 15301(c), 
            CEQA Guidelines) and (2) minor public or private alterations 
            in the condition of land, water, and/or vegetation which do 
            not involve removal of healthy, mature, scenic trees except 
            for forestry or agricultural purposes, specifically including 
            the creation of bicycle lanes on existing rights-of-way. 
            (emphasis added) (Section 15304 (h), CEQA Guidelines).  
            Finally, if the project is not exempt from CEQA, but the 
            initial study shows that it would not result in a significant 
            effect on the environment, the lead agency must prepare a 
            negative declaration, and no EIR is required.

            It is reasonable to conclude that the creation of bike lanes 
            on existing streets is not likely to have extensive or 
            complicated environmental impacts.  However, traffic impacts 
            may be a worthwhile consideration and to the extent a bike 
            lane project increases congestion, it could have a significant 
            effect on local air quality.  If the committee determines that 
            a specific statutory exemption is warranted for bike lane 
            projects,  the author and the committee may wish to consider  
            amending this bill to require the city or county to hold a 
            hearing to consider traffic and safety and adding a sunset to 
            the bill so the Legislature can review the application of the 
            new exemption in a few years.

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  : 

           Support 
           
          American Council of Engineering Companies of California
          Automobile Club of Southern California
          California Chamber of Commerce
          California Park & Recreation Society
          Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
          Regional Counties of Rural Counties
          State Park Partners Coalition

           Opposition 
           
          United Transportation Union

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








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