BILL ANALYSIS Ó SENATE TRANSPORTATION & HOUSING COMMITTEE BILL NO: SB 169 SENATOR MARK DESAULNIER, CHAIRMAN AUTHOR: Emmerson VERSION: 2/4/13 Analysis by: Alison Dinmore FISCAL: YES Hearing date: April 2, 2013 SUBJECT: State Scenic Highway System: removal of a segment of Interstate 10 from eligibility DESCRIPTION: This bill removes the segment of Interstate 10 between postmiles 16.54 and 17.66 in the County of Riverside from eligibility for inclusion in the state scenic highway system. ANALYSIS: The Legislature instituted the State Scenic Highway Program in 1963 and, since that time, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has maintained it. This program establishes the state's responsibility for the protection and enhancement of California's natural scenic beauty. Pursuant to that goal, the Legislature makes portions of the state highway system eligible to be a state scenic highway. The 1963 legislation adopted a "Master Plan" that lists highways that are eligible for scenic designation. The Legislature has made additional designations since that time. The highways deemed eligible are chosen based upon five factors: (1) intrinsic scenic value and experiences that the route would provide; (2) the diversity of experience, such as the transition between different landscape regions or climatic areas that travel on the route would furnish; (3) the degree to which the route would link specific scenic, historical, and recreational points or areas of interest; (4) the relationship of these routes to urban areas, taking into account the opportunities for weekend and one-day sightseeing trips by large numbers of people; and (5) the opportunities for bypassing, or leaving periodically, major trans-state or inter-regional routes. After the Legislature deems a highway eligible, a local agency (such as a city or county) must prepare a corridor management SB 169 (EMMERSON) Page 2 plan that describes the land use and other relevant planning actions that it will implement to retain scenic quality. If this plan is adequate, the Caltrans Director determines the route "scenic," and it is then designated. Upon formal designation, current law also requires local agencies to take actions that may be necessary to protect the scenic appearance of the corridor - the band of land generally adjacent to the highway right of way - including, but not limited to: (1) regulation of land use and intensity of development; (2) detailed land and site planning; (3) control of outdoor advertising; (4) careful attention to and control of earthmoving and landscaping; and (5) the design and appearance of structures and equipment. While the Caltrans Director has the ability to approve official scenic highways, it does not have the authority to remove a designation or remove a segment from eligibility. Legislative approval is required to remove an eligible route. Current law includes Interstate 10 from Route 38 near Redlands to Route 62 near Whitewater as eligible for the State Scenic Highway System. Interstate 10 is currently deemed eligible for designation, however, Riverside County never sought formal designation. This bill removes the segment of Interstate 10 between postmiles 16.54 and 17.66 in the County of Riverside from eligibility from the state scenic highway system. COMMENTS: 1) Purpose of the bill . The author is seeking to remove a segment of the scenic highway on Interstate 10 in Riverside County between postmiles 16.54 and 17.66 that does not meet the criteria for the scenic eligibility designation. In June 2011, pursuant to a request by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, Caltrans reviewed the 1.12 mile segment. Caltrans determined that the segment is no longer eligible for inclusion in the program due to "visual intrusions," including railroad tracks, an active gravel pit, and numerous existing billboards. In addition, the segment has also been developed with an outlet mall and a casino on the Morongo Indian Reservation. The county states the segment's continued eligibility in the program prevents critical economic development and the creation of a path towards recovery. SB 169 (EMMERSON) Page 3 2) Constructing a new billboard and local restrictions . Riverside County would like to put in a new billboard in the 1.12 mile segment. The Riverside County General Plan, however, presently prevents this from occurring. The General Plan prohibits specific activities on "scenic" and "scenic eligible" highways, including putting up this new billboard. Riverside County does not wish to change the local policy because it could allow and encourage the construction of additional and unwanted billboards in other areas of the county. The committee may wish to consider why state legislation is preferable to a local exemption in the General Plan for this segment. The committee may also wish to consider the possibility of subsequent requests for the Legislature to remove other segments of eligible highways from the State Scenic Highway System. 3) Generating local revenues to reduce existing billboards . The area surrounding the 1.12 mile segment contains many billboards. Riverside County states that it has been working with a local advertising group and is seeking to consolidate the number of existing billboards in the area and replace others with digital billboards. The 1.12 miles segment is found on a stretch of freeway that is the only means of traveling. Due to these travel limitations, this segment often experiences heavy traffic. Riverside County states that the visibility of a new billboard in this segment due to the frequency of travel would generate needed revenue for the county. Furthermore, the county would use money generated from the new billboard to fund alternative travel routes along this segment of Interstate 10 to use during emergencies and heavy traffic, as well as digital boards that provide public service announcements. The committee may wish to consider whether it wants to promote additional billboards along state highways. 4) This segment is not a classified landscaped freeway . Segments of freeways that are classified "landscaped freeway" are subject to the Outdoor Advertising Act (OAA), which preclude the installation of billboards. The segment of highway at issue in this bill is not classified as landscaped, so there is no conflict with the OAA or the committee's policy on outdoor advertising bills. POSITIONS: (Communicated to the committee before noon on Wednesday, SB 169 (EMMERSON) Page 4 March 27, 2013.) SUPPORT: Riverside County OPPOSED: None received.