California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 530


Introduced by Assembly Member Rendon

(Principal coauthor: Senator Lara)

February 23, 2015


An act to add Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 32622) to Division 22.8 of the Public Resources Code, relating to the Los Angeles River.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 530, as introduced, Rendon. Lower Los Angeles River Working Group.

Existing law provides for the protection, enhancement, and restoration of rivers in this state. Existing law establishes the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy for the purpose of, among others, providing for the public’s enjoyment and enhancement of recreational and education experiences on public lands in the San Gabriel Watershed and Lower Los Angeles River.

This bill would require the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency to appoint, in coordination with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, a local working group to develop a revitalization plan for the Lower Los Angeles River, called the Lower Los Angeles River Working Group. The bill would specify a prescribed membership for the working group, including, among others, representatives from the County of Los Angeles, and elected officials of the cities riparian to the Los Angeles River. The bill would require, by March 1, 2017, the working group to develop, through watershed-based planning methods, a revitalization plan that addresses the unique and diverse needs of the Lower Los Angeles River, that is consistent with, enhances, and is incorporated into the County of Los Angeles’s Master Plan, and that includes watershed education programs. By imposing additional duties on local officials, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program. The bill would require the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy to provide any necessary staffing to assist the working group.

This bill would make legislative findings and declarations as to the necessity of a special statute for the Lower Los Angeles River.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these statutory provisions.

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: yes.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

P2    1

SECTION 1.  

The Legislature finds and declares all of the
2following:

3(a) The Los Angeles River has a complex ecological and
4political history. The river originally ran freely along an alluvial
5flood plain, which today is the City of Los Angeles. In the 1930’s,
6destructive flooding led the United States Army Corps of Engineers
7to design and build facilities to minimize the impacts of future
8floods, a process that included lining most of the river with
9concrete. Since then, the city, county and federal government have
10all played a role in restoring the Los Angeles River, including the
11county’s 1996 adoption of a master plan for developing and
12restoring the entire Los Angeles River. The City of Los Angeles
13developed a “revitalization plan” to restore the Upper Los Angeles
14River, which lies within the city’s boundaries. Most recently, the
15Corps of Engineers approved “Alternative 20,” a substantial
16restoration and infrastructure project along the Upper Los Angeles
17River.

18(b) The City of Los Angeles was given responsibility for
19managing the river’s resources through a charter by the King of
20Spain at the end of the 18th century. After serious floods in the
P3    11930’s, the federal government, through the United States Army
2Corps of Engineers, stepped in to take responsibility for building
3and managing infrastructure projects to reduce the risk and damage
4from flooding, with the county as the local partner. The county
5also works with the city in managing the Upper Los Angeles River,
6where court decisions have held that the King of Spain’s charter
7gives the city “pueblo” water rights with authority to manage the
8Upper Los Angeles River’s resources. The courts have not given
9the city authority over the Lower Los Angeles River.

10(c) The State of California retains its sovereign authority to
11manage the rivers within its boundaries, including the Los Angeles
12River. Historically, however, it has not exercised that authority,
13due to the dominance of the federal Army Corps of Engineers in
14partnership with the county. The county’s master plan addresses
15the entire river but is close to two decades old, and would benefit
16from renewed attention to resources and development, especially
17on the lower river. The Lower Los Angeles River has many cities,
18but not one city with the responsibility and the resources to invest
19in restoration of that part of the Los Angeles River. There is
20therefore opportunity and need for the State to aid in the
21development and implementation of the county’s Master Plan,
22especially for the Lower Los Angeles River.

23(d) In 2014, California voters approved the Water Quality,
24Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, which
25included $60 million for the Los Angeles River, authorizing
26funding for both the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, which
27has responsibility for the Upper Los Angeles River, and the San
28Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains
29Conservancy, which has responsibility for the Lower Los Angeles
30River. The Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement
31Act of 2014 allocated $30 million to each conservancy for the
32purpose of multibenefit water quality, water supply, and watershed
33protection and restoration projects for the watersheds.

34

SEC. 2.  

Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 32622) is added
35to Division 22.8 of the Public Resources Code, to read:

36 

37Chapter  6. Lower Los Angeles River Working Group
38

 

39

32622.  

(a) The Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency
40shall appoint, in coordination with the Los Angeles County Board
P4    1of Supervisors, a local working group to develop a revitalization
2plan for the Lower Los Angeles River, called the Lower Los
3Angeles River Working Group. The working group shall include,
4but need not be limited to, representatives from the conservancy,
5the County of Los Angeles, the Gateway Cities Council of
6Governments, the Los Angeles Gateway Region Integrated
7Regional Water Management Joint Powers Authority, elected
8officials of the cities riparian to the Los Angeles River, and
9non-profit organizations serving the Los Angeles River region.

10(b) On or before March 1, 2017, the working group shall
11develop, through watershed-based planning methods, a
12revitalization plan that addresses the unique and diverse needs of
13the Lower Los Angeles River and the communities through which
14it passes. The plan shall be consistent with, enhance, and be
15incorporated into, the County of Los Angeles’s Master Plan for
16the entire Los Angeles River. The plan shall include watershed
17education programs that help the Los Angeles River communities
18recognize the value of the river and the importance of protecting
19the river’s watershed resources and its vitality to their communities.

20(c) The conservancy shall provide any necessary staffing to the
21working group to assist in the development of the plan.

22(d) The development and implementation of the revitalization
23plan may be eligible for funding from any public or private source,
24including, but not limited to, funding pursuant to Section 79735
25of the Water Code. Entities that are eligible to implement the
26revitalization plan include, but are not limited to, state agencies,
27local agencies, and non-profit organizations, and may be eligible
28for state funding.

29

SEC. 3.  

The Legislature finds and declares that a special law
30is necessary and that a general law cannot be made applicable
31within the meaning of Section 16 of Article IV of the California
32Constitution because of the Lower Los Angeles River’s complex
33ecological and political history and the unique obstacles the local
34governments of the Lower Los Angeles River encounter when
35managing the river and its surrounding areas.

36

SEC. 4.  

If the Commission on State Mandates determines that
37this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to
38local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made
P5    1pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division
24 of Title 2 of the Government Code.



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