BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  SB 169
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          Date of Hearing:   July 1, 2013

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION
                               Bonnie Lowenthal, Chair
                 SB 169 (Emmerson) - As Introduced:  February 4, 2013

           SENATE VOTE  :  35-0
           
          SUBJECT  :  State highways: scenic highways 

           SUMMARY  :  Removes a 1.12-mile segment on Interstate 10 in  
          Riverside County from eligibility from the state scenic highway  
          system.  

           EXISTING LAW:   

          1)Establishes the State Scenic Highway Program and requires the  
            California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to  
            administer the program.  

          2)Designates portions of the state's highway system as eligible,  
            with specific segments to be approved by Caltrans as an  
            official scenic highway upon completion of specific criteria.   


          3)Authorizes Caltrans to revoke designation of a scenic highway  
            if specific standards are not maintained, such as regulating  
            land use and controlling outdoor advertising.  

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  Unknown 

           COMMENTS :  The Legislature established the State Scenic Highway  
          Program in 1963 under Caltrans' purview and required that a  
          "Master Plan" be adopted that lists highways that are eligible  
          for scenic designation.  The highways deemed eligible are  
          currently in statute and were selected by Caltrans 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  








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          bypassing, or leaving periodically, major trans-state or  
          inter-regional routes.  

          The purpose of the Scenic Highway Program is to protect and  
          enhance the natural scenic beauty of California highways and  
          adjacent corridors, through special conservation treatment.   
          Upon receiving designation, program benefits include: protecting  
          the scenic corridor from encroachment of incompatible land uses  
          such as junkyards, dumps, concrete plants, and gravel pits;  
          mitigating activities within the corridor that detract from its  
          scenic quality by proper siting, landscaping, or screening; and,  
          prohibiting billboards and regulating on-site signs so that they  
          do not detract from scenic views.  

          A local agency (such as a city or county) that possesses a  
          scenic eligible corridor within its jurisdiction may prepare a  
          corridor management plan that describes the land use and other  
          relevant planning actions that it will implement to retain the  
          area's scenic quality.  If this plan meets specific criteria,  
          Caltrans will designate the identified portion of the route as  
          "scenic" and include special signs along designated routes and  
          also identify the routes on maps produced by the State Division  
          of Tourism.  Upon formal designation, current law 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 Caltrans has the ability to approve official scenic  
          highways, legislative action is the only way to remove any  
          segment identified as scenic eligible in statute.  

          Current law includes Interstate 10, from Route 38 near Redlands  
          to Route 62 near Whitewater, as scenic eligible.  However,  
          Riverside County has never sought formal designation of this  
          corridor, which spans approximately 37 miles.  This bill  
          proposes to remove a specific 1.12-mile segment within the  
          37-mile scenic eligible corridor.  

          The author has proposed this legislation at the request of  
          Riverside County in order to allow the county to put up a new  








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          billboard within this 1.12-mile segment.  The author asserts  
          that legislation is required because the county's General Plan  
          prohibits specific activities, including the installation of a  
          new billboard, on both designated scenic and scenic eligible  
          highways. According to Riverside County, this specific segment's  
          continued eligibility, and relevant General Plan restrictions,  
          prevents critical economic development along this corridor.  

          SB 169 serves as a vehicle to allow Riverside County to meet one  
          its economic development priorities; however local agencies,  
          including Riverside County, currently possess the policy making  
          tools to resolve the policy issue this bill is attempting to  
          address.  Specifically, this bill would carve out a small  
          section within a scenic eligible corridor to essentially  
          circumvent Riverside County's General Plan requirements that  
          prohibit billboard advertising along scenic eligible highways.   
          While state law does in fact require local General Plans to  
          consider scenic corridors within its land use and open space  
          elements, specific requirements and designations of the land are  
          within the jurisdiction of each local agency.  Furthermore,  
          local agencies have the ability to amend policies within their  
          General Plans to accommodate changes in the priorities of both  
          the public and local agency.  

           Suggested Amendment:   At a minimum, this bill should be amended  
          to remove the entire 37-mile corridor.  This will ensure that  
          the integrity of the scenic highway system is maintained while  
          continuing to accomplish the county's economic development  
          priorities.  

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :

           Support 
           
          County of Riverside
           
            Opposition 
           
          None on file 

           Analysis Prepared by  :   Manny Leon / TRANS. / (916) 319-2093 












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