BILL ANALYSIS Ó SENATE TRANSPORTATION & HOUSING COMMITTEE BILL NO: AB 481 SENATOR MARK DESAULNIER, CHAIRMAN AUTHOR: Lowenthal VERSION: 4/1/13 Analysis by: Eric Thronson FISCAL: yes Hearing date: June 11, 2013 SUBJECT: High-speed rail rights-of-way management DESCRIPTION: This bill grants the High-Speed Rail Authority similar property management authority as that granted to the California Department of Transportation. ANALYSIS: Existing law grants the California Department of General Services (DGS) broad real estate acquisition and management authority for state-owned property. For example, the DGS Director may acquire easements deemed necessary for the proper utilization of state-owned real estate, as well as grant easements across state-owned property. Further, the DGS Director can negotiate the lease of access to state-owned property, for example, for telecommunication companies to run buried cable. DGS' property management authority does not generally include highway rights-of-way, which are instead managed by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). In managing state highway rights-of-way, existing law provides Caltrans a number of options related to the use or disposal of excess property. For example, Caltrans can lease to public agencies or private entities the airspace above or ground below highway rights-of-way as long as the lease does not impact road safety. In addition, Caltrans can classify portions of highway rights-of-way as non-operating and can lease those areas to local governments for public purposes such as for parks or other recreational facilities. Finally, Caltrans can sell excess rights-of-way through a competitive process, or without seeking competitive bids under the following conditions: To adjacent landowners if not doing so would deprive the AB 481 (LOWENTHAL) Page 2 landowner of an existing right of access, or if the parcel is less valuable as a separate sale than it would be in conjunction with the neighboring parcel; To local governments at their request; or To a former owner or long-time residential tenant who continues to reside on the parcel. Caltrans deposits all revenues from managing the highway rights-of-way in the state highway account. Existing law created the California High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) in 1996 to direct development and implementation of intercity high-speed rail service that is fully coordinated with other public transportation services. In 2008, voters approved Proposition 1A (Prop 1A) authorizing $9.95 billion in general obligation bonds for the high-speed rail project. Prop 1A authorizes HSRA to use bond funds for, among other things, acquisition of interests in real property and rights-of-way. Prop 1A also authorizes HSRA to either contract with Caltrans for right-of-way activities or otherwise use DGS processes for right-of-way acquisition pursuant to the state's public acquisition law. This bill grants HSRA similar property management authority as that granted to Caltrans. Specifically, this bill: Excludes high-speed rail rights-of-way from DGS' property management authority and instead provides for HSRA to manage the property; Enables the Executive Director of HSRA to lease to public agencies or private entities the airspace above or area below high-speed rail rights-of-way as long as these leases do not impact safety; Allows HSRA to sell excess high-speed rail rights-of-way through a competitive process, or without seeking competitive bids under the same conditions as Caltrans; Requires HSRA to deposit revenues from the lease or sale of high-speed rail rights-of-way into the High-Speed Rail Property Fund; and Restricts the use of these revenues to the development, improvement, and maintenance of the high-speed rail system, upon appropriation by the Legislature. COMMENTS: 1.Purpose . According to the author, this bill allows HSRA to AB 481 (LOWENTHAL) Page 3 address the high-speed rail project's short and long-term needs by granting HSRA authority to manage property related to the project. This bill mirrors provisions of existing law, regulation, and policy governing Caltrans' authority to manage its properties and to sell its excess land. The author contends that this bill will enable HSRA to more effectively manage property acquired for the high-speed rail project by allowing it to negotiate with impacted landowners for continued access, exchange property between adjoining landowners to help mitigate impacts to existing uses, sell excess property no longer required for the project, and lease property to interested parties as a means of creating additional revenue sources for the project. 2.Why exempt HSRA rights-of-way from DGS management ? Generally, it is more efficient to consolidate property management responsibilities in one state department than to let every department manage its own properties. There are a couple of good reasons, however, for why the Legislature exempted Caltrans from DGS' property management authority and granted Caltrans its own managing abilities. DGS manages much of the state's real estate, including mostly "vertical" properties like office buildings and the surrounding grounds. These properties provide different challenges and opportunities than the "horizontal" rights-of-way managed by Caltrans, and presumably require different skillsets to manage. For example, purchasing or selling portions of numerous contiguous parcels adjacent to miles of highway is a very different task than negotiating the purchase or sale of one full parcel occupied by an existing building or other structure. In addition, Caltrans has the ability to deal with disputed deals in a public forum at regularly-scheduled meetings of the California Transportation Commission and therefore does not need to go through the typical state acquisition process involving the California Public Works Board. HSRA will experience similar challenges and opportunities as Caltrans with the high-speed rail rights-of-way. Caltrans has indicated that it does not have the capacity to manage HSRA's properties, and, because DGS doesn't deal with many rights-of-way, DGS is not well-suited for the management of horizontal properties. In addition, HSRA has the similar ability as Caltrans to deal with land disputes in a public forum at the HSRA board meetings. Therefore, it seems reasonable for HSRA to have the same property management authority granted Caltrans. Finally, given the need to be as AB 481 (LOWENTHAL) Page 4 efficient as possible and to find additional funding for the project, HSRA indicates that it intends to manage the project rights-of-way to maximize revenues. For example, HSRA could pursue leasing rights-of-way easements to utilities and telecommunications companies in order to generate revenues to help fund the overall project. 3.Technical amendments . On page 10, line 22, after "The" insert "Chief Executive Officer of the" On page 10, line 25, strike out "authority" and insert "Chief Executive Officer of the High-Speed Rail Authority" On page 10, line 27, strike out "authority" and insert "Chief Executive Officer of the High-Speed Rail Authority" Assembly Votes: Floor: 51-21 Appr: 12-5 A and AR: 9-2 Trans: 11-5 POSITIONS: (Communicated to the committee before noon on Wednesday, June 5, 2013.) SUPPORT: None received. OPPOSED: None received.