BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó

                                                                     SB 734

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          734 (De León)

          As Amended  June 2, 2015

          Majority vote

          SENATE VOTE:  37-0

          |Committee       |Votes|Ayes                  |Noes                |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |Natural         |9-0  |Williams, Dahle,      |                    |
          |Resources       |     |                      |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |                |     |Cristina Garcia,      |                    |
          |                |     |Hadley, Harper,       |                    |
          |                |     |McCarty, Rendon, Mark |                    |
          |                |     |Stone, Wood           |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |Appropriations  |17-0 |Gomez, Bigelow,       |                    |
          |                |     |Bloom, Bonta,         |                    |
          |                |     |Calderon, Chang,      |                    |
          |                |     |Gordon, Eggman,       |                    |
          |                |     |Gallagher, Eduardo    |                    |
          |                |     |Garcia, Holden,       |                    |
          |                |     |Jones, Quirk, Rendon, |                    |
          |                |     |Wagner, Weber, Wood   |                    |


                                                                     SB 734

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          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |

          SUMMARY:  Requires the Natural Resources Agency (NRA) to allow  
          at least 30 days for public comment regarding proposed state  
          land acquisitions, including easements.  

          EXISTING LAW: 

          1)Establishes NRA and various entities within NRA, including the  
            Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB), the Department of Parks and  
            Recreation, the Department of Conservation, and the California  
            Coastal Conservancy, which, among others, can purchase land or  
            conservation easements on behalf of the state.

          2)Requires NRA 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.

          FISCAL EFFECT:  According to the Assembly Appropriations  
          Committee, this bill has minor, if any, state costs.  

          COMMENTS:  According to the author, this bill would increase  
          transparency on land and conservation easement acquisitions by  
          adding at least 30 days advance notice for public comment to the  
          uniform open process established to ensure that information will  
          be readily-available regarding hearings where state land  
          acquisitions will be approved.  This bill also deletes the  
          provision that does not require implementation if funds are not  
          available and makes additional technical and clarifying changes  
          to existing law.


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          Existing law requires NRA to maintain a uniform, open process so  
          that information related to prospective land acquisitions is  
          readily available to the general public, local, state, and  
          federal agencies, adjacent landowners and other interested  
          parties.  However, 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.   
          Such information is only readily available on completed land and  
          conservation easement acquisitions.  

          Currently, NRA maintains a bond accountability database with  
          information on how existing natural resources bond funding, such  
          as Proposition 84 (2006), has been allocated.  Information on  
          acquisitions through earlier bonds is also available from NRA,  
          as is a registry of conservation easements.  This registry  
          includes a public search function and, according to the agency,  
          is updated when funding is available to do so.  

          Advance public notice requirements for relevant acquisitions  
          vary among existing programs, which makes it difficult for the  
          public to monitor.  Generally, if a land or conservation  
          easement acquisition constitutes 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.  For example, WCB provides its  
          preliminary agenda on its Web site and notifies certain  
          stakeholders at least 30 days in advance of a hearing where  
          acquisitions may be considered.  The final agenda is released at  
          least 10 days ahead of the hearing to satisfy the open meeting  
          requirements of the Bagley-Keene Open Meetings Act.  There are  
          also extensive notice requirements both before and after  
          acquisition under the Williamson Act for agricultural lands.   
          Moreover, when an acquisition requires action by local  
          government entity, additional notice provisions would be  


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          applicable.  Depending upon the program, land acquisitions may  
          not result in 30 days' notice to the public.  

          Analysis Prepared by:                                             
                          Elizabeth MacMillan / NAT. RES. / (916) 319-2092  
          FN: 0001798