With the deadline having passed for Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign the bills sent to his desk in September, the Santa Clarita City Council’s Legislative Committee can look back at how the views from the state Capitol lined up with local leadership’s.
The city’s Legislative Committee is made up of two Santa Clarita City Council members appointed each year — this year, Jason Gibbs and Cameron Smyth. They discuss legislation, request more information and review bills of interest provided by Masis Hagobian, the city’s intergovernmental relations officer for the city of Santa Clarita.
“Of the 18 state bills the City Council adopted (positions) on this year, eight were passed by the Legislature and reviewed by the governor,” Hagobian wrote Tuesday in an email. “The governor signed six and vetoed two.”
The bills taken up are based on the City Council’s approved legislative platform each year, which contains 54 priorities at the state level, according to the city’s website.
“Each year, bills are reviewed by the City Council Legislative Committee and City Council to consider adopting a position,” Hagobian wrote. “The bills are selected for review if they have an impact on the city or its municipal operations. The Executive and Legislative Platform primarily drives what bills are considered for review, but members of the City Council may also ask that a bill be reviewed by the City Council Legislative Committee.”
The No.1 priority on the city’s list for its website is local land-use control bills, an issue that every council member has spoken out about at one time or another in the past year. One of the biggest concerns the city has discussed is how state lawmakers’ efforts to address the housing crisis have focused on removing their ability to have any say on a project in an effort to streamline the process and get more homes built.
“Unfortunately, we saw a continual erosion of local control during the 2023 legislative session,” wrote Smyth in a text Tuesday. “The governor signed several bills (Senate Bill 4, Assembly Bill 1490 and AB 1308) that further limit local agencies’ authority over land use and development.”
SB 4 “requires cities and counties to approve, through a streamlined and ministerial process, residential developments that dedicate 75% of the residential units to lower-income households, 20% to moderate-income households and 5% may be for staff on property owned by a religious or higher-education institution,” according to a staff analysis.
AB 1490 “requires all entitlements and permits to be approved within 30 days from the date a housing project application is submitted,” according to a city report. AB 1308 “prohibits local governments from increasing the minimum parking required as a condition of approval for a project.”
State Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, voted yes on SB 4 but no on AB 1308 and AB 1490. He said there was specific constituent interest in SB 4, and little potential for negative impact.
“I had a number of religious organizations reach out asking for support,” Wilk wrote via text Wednesday. “Plus, in the grand scheme of things, there’s not enough property to negatively impact a local community.”
Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, Schiavo voted yes on all three.
The city also opposed SB 423, a land-use law that gives a 10-year extension to a previously state-approved streamlined approval process for multifamily homes that’s not subject to local review and previously would have had a sunset date of Jan. 1, 2026. Some of these provisions are included in SB 330, a state law that recently resulted in the city receiving a slew of applications for multifamily housing developments.
Schiavo voted yes; Wilk voted no. Newsom signed it into law Sept. 25.
AB 701, which the city supported and was signed by the governor, adds fentanyl to the substances for which additional terms or fines can be imposed, according to the text of the law. It also requires notification for someone who violates the law “to know of the substance’s nature or character as a controlled substance to be subjected to an additional term and authorized fine.”
Both Schiavo and Wilk voted yes.
SB 14, which made the penalties more severe for human trafficking by adding it to the list of serious felonies, was also supported by the city and signed by Newsom.
Both Schiavo and Wilk supported the law.
Smyth, who’s no stranger to Sacramento himself, having served in the Assembly from 2006 to 2012, also was disappointed that Newsom vetoed a bill that would have used the State Water Resources Control Board to help residents fight the creation of a massive sand and gravel mine in Soledad Canyon.
Schiavo and Wilk, who worked together as co-authors on the measure, both ultimately claimed victory on that one since the State Water Board said it would notice the application for its permit seeking to use water from the Santa Clara River, which Newsom also acknowledged in his veto letter. The water board has yet to identify a date for when that might happen.
The governor also vetoed AB 474, which the city supported, as it sought to expand the authority of the State Threat Assessment Center as a means of fighting the opioid crisis, another stated city priority. Both Schiavo and Wilk voted aye.
Newsom called the effort duplicative in his veto letter, stating the agency already has such ability and that expanding its scope formally would limit its “flexibility to shift priorities to meet this ever-changing threat landscape.”