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  • Writer's pictureMario Valadez

2022 Legislative Session Recap - What Happened with Housing and Transportation

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

California's 2022 legislative session was marked by an array of strong housing and transportation bills that aimed to forestall the worst effects of the climate crisis and bring California and the Bay Area closer to the goal of building equitable, sustainable, affordable communities. Last month, Newsom signed many of these exciting bills—and unfortunately vetoed a few—for which TransForm had advocated, with help from supporters like you. He also signed a bill we weren’t so thrilled about.

Illustration of buildings labeled with legislative bill numbers. Art by Alfred Twu.

art by Alfred Twu

Priority Bills

Assembly Bill 1919 (Free Student Transit Pass Pilot Program) This would have created a five-year pilot program to offset operating costs for transit agencies to offer a fare-free Student Transit Pass. Governor Newsom’s key issue was that the bill did not provide a funding source. Although many local governments and transit agencies in California provide their own free- and reduced-fare student transit passes, this bill would have provided fiscal support for a critical transportation resource serving students across the state. We applaud Assemblymember Chris Holden for his leadership to expand youth transit access. The work is not over and TransForm is continuing to advocate for this crucial program.

✔️ Assembly Bill 2097 (Eliminate Parking Requirements Near Transit) This transformative new law eliminates parking minimums on developments within a half mile of frequent transit. Not only did the Governor sign this bill, but he also posted a video on Twitter discussing the importance of AB 2097 to help us reach our housing and climate goals. This means building more housing near transit and reducing our transportation emissions from personal vehicles.

While there are some exceptions built into the law, those conditions don’t apply if the developer reserves 20 percent of the units for very low, low, or moderate-income households, students, the elderly, or persons with disabilities -- providing a further inducement to promote affordability. Also, local ordinances can still require new developments to provide parking spaces for electric vehicles or for people with disabilities.

For decades, TransForm has made the case that stopping the creation of excess parking is both a climate and an equity strategy. We will continue to prove how tools like GreenTRIP Connect can increase housing affordability. This bill is the result of years of hard work by parking reform advocates, and we’re thrilled that we are finally chipping away at regressive land use policies that continue our reliance on driving.

Assembly Bill 2438 (Prioritize our Climate and Public Health in Transportation Spending) This bill would have given teeth to the Climate Action Plan For Transportation Infrastructure(CAPTI), a policy framework that if implemented properly could help move California to a transportation system focused on meeting climate and equity goals rather than widening roads. The Governor claims that California transportation agencies are currently working on aligning funding programs with CAPTI, thus bill is unnecessary. The CAPTI annual report released this year identifies progress in funding and prioritizing more low- and zero-emission transportation projects. Examples include a one-time $1 billion augmentation to the Active Transportation Program within the state budget and re-writing the guidelines for the Solutions for Congested Corridors Program to prioritize projects that offer alternatives to the car. While this is great progress, more work needs to be done. This bill was introduced in response to a 2022 state-mandated report that outlined the incongruence between our transportation spending and state climate goals. There is still too much money going towards roads rather than transit, and therefore a need for binding policy. We are greatly disappointed by this veto, but we will keep identifying opportunities to ensure that future transportation investments prioritize clean transportation.

✔️Assembly Bill 2011 (Streamline Affordable and Mixed-Income Housing on Commercial Corridors) This is a monumental step towards building more affordable housing across the state. AB 2011 allows for housing to be built in areas commercially zoned for office, retail, and parking. Additionally, housing projects often suffer from years-long delays due to discretionary approval processes by local governments. This bill, whose passage involved a groundbreaking collaboration between labor and affordable housing groups, allows for housing projects to be “streamlined” if they meet certain affordable housing and labor requirements, exempting said projects from discretionary review and speeding up housing production. It’s estimated that 300,000 to 400,000 affordable homes can be built in these commercially zoned areas. We are excited to see projects start rolling out beginning in late 2023.

Senate Bill 457 (Car-free Tax Credit)This bill would have created a tax credit equal to $1,000 for households with zero registered vehicles. Similarly to his veto of AB 1919, his key issue is that the bill would cost $1 billion and does not provide a funding source. Considering that Governor Newsom struck a deal with the legislature in June for a $9.5 billion gas rebate package, his concern over “fiscal responsibility” is unconvincing. Still, we are grateful for Senator Anthony Portantino for championing an idea that would have provided much needed economic benefits for car-light households during a time of record inflation, and it’s encouraging to see SB 457 make it all the way to the Governor’s desk. We hope this kind of car-free tax credit or rebate is included in future state budget considerations.

Other Active and Shared Transportation Bills

✔️Assembly Bill 1909 (Omnibike). This bill addresses a variety of issues related to bicycles in the California Vehicle Code. AB 1909 prevents local jurisdictions from banning e-bikes on bicycle paths and bike lanes, prohibits mandatory bicycle licensing, allows bikes to begin crossing an intersection when the “walk” signal gives the go-ahead, and requires drivers to change lanes “if possible” when passing a bicyclist. Overall these changes improve safety for all road users, especially those riding a bike.

✔️Assembly Bill 2147 (Freedom to Walk) was signed by Governor Newsom. Commonly referred to as the “jaywalking bill”, AB 2147 prevents the police from giving people tickets for crossing when it’s safe to do so. What this bill does not do is completely decriminalize jaywalking and allow for people to cross anywhere they want without being stopped by the police. We see this as a first step in addressing the over enforcement of pedestrians.

Assembly Bill 371 (Kill Bike Share) By signing this bill, Governor Newsom dealt a huge blow to the micro-mobility industry. TransForm worked with other active transportation advocacy groups across the state to stop this bill, which requires unprecedented insurance requirements on shared scooters. Although we were not successful, we were able to remove the insurance requirements for bike share operators. AB 371 will still enforce new insurance requirements for scooter share operators. This is a huge loss and will increase costs for micromobility users, and could easily put operators out of business entirely. We should be encouraging active and shared transportation methods, not making them more costly.

Any other housing and transportation related bills on your mind? Find us on twitter @Transform_Alert and let’s talk about it!


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