BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






           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  




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          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.  





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          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,




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                     March 27, 2013.)

               SUPPORT:  Riverside County

               OPPOSED:  None received.