BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó

          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                        SB 734|
          |Office of Senate Floor Analyses   |                              |
          |(916) 651-1520    Fax: (916)      |                              |
          |327-4478                          |                              |

                                    THIRD READING

          Bill No:  SB 734
          Author:   De León (D)
          Amended:  6/2/15  
          Vote:     21  

           SENATE NATURAL RES. & WATER COMMITTEE:  8-0, 4/28/15
           AYES:  Pavley, Stone, Allen, Hertzberg, Hueso, Jackson,  
            Monning, Wolk
           NO VOTE RECORDED:  Vidak

           AYES:  Lara, Bates, Beall, Hill, Leyva, Mendoza, Nielsen

           SUBJECT:   State lands acquisitions:  public transparency

          SOURCE:    Author

          DIGEST:   This bill requires the Natural Resources Agency  
          (agency) to allow at least 30 days for public comment regarding  
          proposed state land acquisitions, including easements.


          Existing law:

          1)Provides that the 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  


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            others, can purchase land or conservation easements on behalf  
            of the state.

          2)Requires that the agency to collect and disseminate  
            information about prospective land and easement acquisition  
            activities by the state, subject to funds being provided for  
            these purposes by the Legislature. (Government Code (GOV)  
            §12805.2).  This includes that:

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

             b)   All departments, boards, commissions and conservancies  
               within the agency provide information annually to the  
               agency's secretary on land acquisitions and funding, and,  
               as specified, on prospective acquisitions,

             c)   The agency review and evaluate, as specified, any  
               information available from federal agencies pertaining to  
               federal land acquisitions,

             d)   A 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, and

             e)   Certain reporting requirements are met.

          This bill requires the agency to allow at least 30 days for  
          public comment regarding proposed state land acquisitions,  
          including easements.  This bill also contains technical and  
          clarifying changes to statute.


          There does not appear to be a single readily-available source of  
          information of all prospective acquisitions by the agency and  


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          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 Web site  
          ( 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.

          FISCAL EFFECT:   Appropriation:    No          Fiscal  
          Com.:YesLocal:   No

          According to the Senate Appropriations Committee, this bill cost  
          pressures of $150,000 and ongoing cost of $50,000 annually to  


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          the General Fund to the Natural Resources Agency to create, then  
          manage the registry of state land acquisitions.

          SUPPORT:   (Verified6/1/15)

          None received

          OPPOSITION:   (Verified6/1/15)

          None received

          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT:  According to the author, 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  

          Prepared by: Katharine Moore / N.R. & W. / (916) 651-4116 
          6/2/15 22:30:06

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