With FPPC Enforcement on the Rise, Public Agencies Navigate Gray Area in Use of Public Funds for Election Communications
Local agencies walk a fine line when producing effective informative materials for ballot measures without inadvertently ‘campaigning’. This article reviews current FPPC rules around spending public money to inform the electorate, how to steer clear of enforcement gray areas, and opportunities for the Legislature to authorize limited public agency electoral campaigns.
Systemic issues in land use planning have historically plagued small, low-income, unincorporated communities on the urban fringe. SB 244 took a first step to address the legal, financial, and political barriers affecting disadvantaged unincorporated communities in California. This article describes SB 244 requirements and looks at implementation progress.
California’s recent fire seasons have been staggeringly destructive, and are poised to worsen over upcoming decades as the impacts of climate change increase. Yet, we are not helpless. The use of beneficial fire—at the right times and in the right locations—can increase forest resiliency and reduce wildfire risk. California’s pending Strategic Plan for Expanding the Use of Beneficial Fire points public agencies in the right direction.
SB 330 significantly changed how local governments process applications for housing development projects. SB 330 added new provisions to the Government Code limiting local authority to downzone property or adopt new, subjective design standards. In 2021, the Legislature enacted SB 8, which clarified and updated some of SB 330’s terms. This article answers some SB 330 FAQs and provides implementation tips.
Cities and counties face significant challenges in raising funds for basic services and special programs. Chief among these, local governments must receive two-thirds voter approval before imposing a tax to fund designated programs. However, under a series of recent court rulings, voter-sponsored initiatives for special taxes need only be approved by a simple majority. This article discusses this new revenue opportunity, and how courts have thus far viewed local officials’ involvement in these efforts.
The State Legislature’s burst of new housing legislation has significant implications for use of the initiative power. Find out more about SB10’s explicit shift of power to local legislatures and other ways in which the new laws may complicate planning and zoning initiatives.
The ancient public trust doctrine is as relevant as ever in today’s California, with implications for how local governments make decisions that could directly or indirectly affect water resources.
Building Decarbonization Update: Local Governments in California Consider Strategies to Reduce Natural Gas Use in Existing Buildings
Following up on the October 2019 and February 2020 editions of In the Public Interest, this article provides an update regarding strategies proposed by several cities and counties to encourage or require existing buildings to go all-electric.
Cities across California are adopting measures to ensure buildings do not pose threats to bird safety, often pairing these measures with those that reduce sources of nighttime light pollution.
Utilities provide integration capacity maps that can help customers and developers optimize the placement of distributed energy resources like solar generation and electric vehicle chargers. The California Public Utilities Commission recently decided to require improvements to the maps, which will unlock new uses that can aid public agencies’ decarbonization efforts.