BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 417
                                                                  Page 1

          Date of Hearing:  April 1, 2013

                       ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES
                                Wesley Chesbro, Chair
                 AB 417 (Frazier) - As Introduced:  February 15, 2013
           
          SUBJECT  :  California Environmental Quality Act:  bicycle  
          transportation plan

           SUMMARY  :  Establishes a CEQA exemption for the approval of a  
          bicycle transportation plan, as defined, until 2018.

           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)Establishes an exemption from CEQA for a bicycle  
            transportation plan for an urbanized area for restriping of  
            streets and highways, bicycle parking and storage, signal  
            timing, and related signage.

          2)Requires a lead agency, prior to determining a plan is exempt,  
            to hold noticed public hearings and include measures to  
            mitigate potential bicycle and pedestrian safety impacts

          3)Requires a lead agency to file a notice of any bicycle plan  
            exemption with the Office of Planning and Research (OPR) and  
            the county clerk in the county in which the project is  
            located.

          4)Sunsets January 1, 2018.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  Unknown (for an identical bill in 2012, the  
          Assembly Appropriations Committee estimated minor, absorbable  
          costs to OPR to post exempted bicycle plans on its Web site).

           COMMENTS  : 

           1)Background.   CEQA provides a process for evaluating the  








                                                                  AB 417
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            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.  
             
            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)CEQA and bicycle plans.   In June 2005, San Francisco adopted  
            its 2005 Bicycle Plan, determining that the plan was exempt  
            from CEQA based upon their finding that there was no  
            possibility that the bicycle plan would have significant  
            impacts on the environment.  San Francisco also adopted the  
            bicycle plan's Network Improvement Document, a five-year plan  
            for funding and implementing the bicycle plan.  Petitioners  
            challenged adoption of the 2005 Bicycle Plan and Network  
            Improvement Document under CEQA and the court granted the  
            petition, finding that the plan and document should have been  
            reviewed under CEQA together as one project, and that the two  
            actions could have a significant impact on the environment.   
            The court issued a Preemptory Writ of Mandate in 2007,  
            requiring San Francisco to conduct adequate environmental  
            review of the plan and document, and enjoined the city from  
            implementing any individual improvement projects until the  
            review was completed.  

            After reviewing the revised plan, the court indicated that  
            "(t)he bulk of the draft EIR's analysis concerned impacts on  
            transportation, particularly impacts from the 60 near-term  
            improvements on 63 different intersections located throughout  
            San Francisco, as well as impacts on 12 transit corridors, 10  
            transit spot studies, and 13 parking and loading corridors."   








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            The court also noted that the EIR identified mitigation  
            measures to minimize or eliminate many of the significant  
            environmental impacts identified in the EIR, including  
            measures such as adding or modifying traffic signals at  
            intersections (lengthening green light time or adding a green  
            arrow), or modifying roadway striping (changing shared lanes  
            to exclusive turn lanes, narrowing travel lanes, or  
            eliminating or restricting on-street parking).  Subsequent to  
            ruling against another appeal by the plaintiffs, the court  
            determined in 2010 that the report met the requirements of  
            CEQA.  

           3)Prior legislation.   This bill is identical to the last version  
            of SB 1380 (Rubio), which was approved by this committee in  
            July 2012 and later died on the Assembly Floor inactive file.

            In addition, AB 2245 (Smyth), Chapter 680, Statutes of 2012,  
            established a CEQA exemption for Class II bikeways (bike  
            lanes) undertaken by a city or county within an existing road  
            right-of-way until 2017.  AB 2245 was approved by this  
            committee in May 2012.

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :

           Support 
           
          Civil Justice Association of California

           Opposition 
           
          None
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :  Lawrence Lingbloom / NAT. RES. / (916)  
          319-2092