BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 417
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   April 17, 2013

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                                  Mike Gatto, Chair

                AB 417 (Frazier) - As Introduced:   February 15, 2013

          Policy Committee:                              Natural  
          ResourcesVote:7-1

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          No     Reimbursable:              

           
          SUMMARY  

          As proposed to be amended, this bill creates an exemption to the  
          California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for the approval of  
          urban bicycle transportation plans.    

          1) Prior to determining if the plan is exempt under CEQA, this  
            bill specifically requires the lead agency approving the plan  
            to do the following: 

             a)   Hold noticed public hearings in areas affected by the  
               bicycle transportation plan to hear and respond to public  
               comments.

             b)   Include measures in the bicycle transportation plan to  
               mitigate potential vehicular traffic impacts.

             c)   Include measures in the bicycle transportation plan to  
               mitigate potential bicycle and pedestrian safety impacts.

          2)This bill requires the local agency granting the CEQA  
            exemption to file a notice of determination with the Office of  
            Planning and Research (OPR) and the clerk of the county in  
            which the project is located.

          3)This bill sunsets January 1, 2018.

           FISCAL EFFECT  

          Absorbable costs to OPR.  
           








                                                                  AB 417
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           COMMENTS
           
           1)Purpose.   This bill provides an alternative environmental and  
            public review process for the approval of urban bicycle plans.  
             According to the author, by reducing vehicle traffic, bicycle  
            lanes have significant environmental benefits including air  
            quality improvements and greenhouse gas reductions, while also  
            providing better safety for bicycle riders.  This bill will  
            reduce delays and the likelihood that public money will be  
            spent defending legal challenges under CEQA.  

           2)Background.   CEQA provides a process for evaluating the  
            environmental effects of applicable projects approved or  
            undertaken by public agencies.  For projects that are not  
            exempt from CEQA, an initial study is prepared to determine if  
            the projects may have a significant impact on the environment.  
               If the initial study shows no significant impacts, a  
            negative declaration is issued.  If the project may  
            significantly impact the environment, a full Environmental  
            Impact Report (EIR) must be prepared, including the  
            identification of environmental impacts and required  
            mitigation, compliance and reporting measures intended to  
            reduce the environmental impacts to the extent feasible.  CEQA  
            also provides for public process and legal challenges.
                
          3)SF 2005 Bicycle Plan.   The City and County of San Francisco  
            adopted a bicycle plan and determined the plan was exempt from  
            CEQA because, in the city's view, the activities associated  
            with the plan did not trigger CEQA review.  The City  
            concurrently adopted the Network Improvement Plan, a five-year  
            plan for funding and implementing the bicycle plan.  

            Petitioners challenged both the Bicycle Plan and The Network  
            Improvement Plan successfully under CEQA. The court found that  
            the both plans should have been reviewed together as one  
            project, as the two actions together could have a significant  
            impact on the environment.  The city was ordered to prepare an  
            EIR.  The court ultimately determined that the EIR met the  
            requirements of CEQA.

            As a result, San Francisco's bicycle plan was delayed and the  
            city spent more public funds than they had originally  
            anticipated.

           4)Class II Bikeways  .  AB 2245 (Smyth) Chapter 680, Statutes of  








                                                                  AB 417
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            2012, established a CEQA exemption until January 1, 2018 for  
            specific bike lanes undertaken by state or local government in  
            existing road rights-of way. This exemption requires the lead  
            Agency to file notice of determination with the OPR but does  
            not include the additional requirements to track all the  
            actions and outcomes of noncompliance claims and proceedings.

           5)Support.  This bill is supported by local entities and cycling  
            organizations who contend that CEQA challenges on local  
            bicycle transportation plans can be expensive and at risk for  
            delay from potential for litigation. 

           6)Opposition.    This bill is opposed by the Sierra Club, who  
            argues the exemption provided by this bill undermines the  
            likelihood the environmental impacts of bicycle plans will be  
            identified, appropriately reviewed and mitigated, if  
            necessary.

           7)Author's Amendment.   The Author is proposing amendments to  
            delete the OPR requirements to post on its website a link to  
            the plan of each local agency filing a notice of determination  
            for the CEQA exemption and  any action or proceeding alleging  
            that a bicycle plan is out of compliance with the requirements  
            of this CEQA exemption, including the cause of the action and  
            the case outcome.
           
           
           Analysis Prepared by  :    Jennifer Galehouse / APPR. / (916)  
          319-2081