BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó

                             Senator Fran Pavley, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:            SB 734          Hearing Date:    April 28,  
          |Author:    |De León                |           |                 |
          |Version:   |February 27, 2015                                    |
          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
          |Consultant:|Katharine Moore                                      |
          |           |                                                     |
              Subject:  State lands acquisitions:  public transparency

          According to its website, the California Natural Resources  
          Agency (agency) contains ten conservancies, three councils, six  
          departments, five boards, twelve commissions, and museums and  
          other related entities, among others.  Some of these entities,  
          such as the Wildlife Conservation Board, the Department of Parks  
          and Recreation, the Department of Conservation, and the  
          California Coastal Conservancy, among others, can purchase land  
          or conservation easements on behalf of the state.

          In response, in part, to a then-recent audit of land management  
          planning and acquisition in State Parks and the Department of  
          Fish and Wildlife, AB 1414 (Dickerson, c. 8, Statutes of 2002)  
          provided specific direction to the agency to collect and  
          disseminate information about prospective land and easement  
          acquisition activities by the state (Government Code (GOV)  
          §12805.2).  As a result, existing law - subject to funds being  
          provided for these purposes by the Legislature - requires, among  
          other provisions, that:

           the agency develop and maintain a database of lands and  
            easements that have been acquired by the departments and  
            boards within the agency.

           all departments, boards, commissions and conservancies within  
            the agency provide information annually to the agency's  


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            secretary on land acquisitions and funding, and, as specified,  
            on prospective acquisitions.

           the agency review and evaluate, as specified, any information  
            available from federal agencies pertaining to federal land  

           the agency meet certain reporting requirements 

           an uniform open process be established to ensure that  
            information is readily available to the general public, local,  
            state, and federal agencies, adjacent landowners and other  
            interested parties of record, regarding any state hearings to  
            approve proposed state land acquisitions.

          PROPOSED LAW
          This bill would:
                 increase transparency on land and conservation easement  
               acquisitions by entities within the agency by adding at  
               least 30 days advance notice for public comment, as  
               specified, to the uniform open process established to  
               ensure that information will be readily-available regarding  
               hearings where state land acquisitions will be approved;
                 delete the provision that does not require  
               implementation if funds are not available; and
                 make additional technical and clarifying changes to  
               existing law.

          SB 734 seeks to provide a single portal for the public and all  
          interested stakeholders to find out about and comment on land  
          acquisitions by the state.  The goal is to increase public  
          transparency.  Considerable information on land and conservation  
          easement purchases is available after the fact, particularly if  
          state bond funds are used.  It can be difficult for the public  
          and stakeholders, given the number of programs involved, to keep  
          track of all potential acquisitions in advance.  It is also  
          important to explicitly require that public comment be allowed.   
          Again, while many acquisition programs and procedures provide  
          the opportunity for public comment already, it is important to  
          ensure that all do and to facilitate the public's ability to  



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          None received

           There does not appear to be a single readily-available source of  
          information of all prospective acquisitions by the agency and  
          the state entities under its jurisdiction.  Information is  
          readily-available on  completed  land and conservation easement  
          acquisitions.  The agency currently maintains a bond  
          accountability database  
          ( with information  
          on how existing natural resources bond funding, such as  
          Proposition 84, have been allocated.  Information on  
          acquisitions through earlier bonds is also available from the  
          agency.  There is also a registry of conservation easements  
          available on the agency's website  
          ( This registry includes a  
          public search function and, according to the agency, is updated  
          when funding is available to do so.  Additionally, maps of  
          state-owned lands are available.  For example, a map of the  
          Wildlife Conservation Board's acquisitions is available online  
           Advance public notice requirements for relevant acquisitions  
          vary among existing programs.   Generally speaking, should a land  
          or conservation easement acquisition constitute a project under  
          the California Environmental Quality Act, there are applicable  
          public notice and comment requirements.  Additionally, depending  
          upon the program and funding source, the acquirer may have to  
          meet public notice and meeting requirements as well.  For  
          example, the Wildlife Conservation Board's standard practice is  
          to provide its preliminary agenda on its website and notify  
          certain stakeholders at least 30 days in advance of a Board  
          hearing where acquisitions may be considered.  The final agenda  
          is also released at least 10 days ahead of the Board hearing to  
          satisfy the open meeting requirements of the Bagley-Keene act.   
          There are also extensive notice requirements both before and  
          after acquisition under the Williamson Act in regards to certain  
          agricultural lands.  Should the acquisition require any action  
          by local government, for example, a county board of supervisors  
          or planning commission, additional notice provisions would be  
          applicable.  Depending upon the program, less than 30 days  
          advance notice may be provided under existing law.



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          None Received

          None Received

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