Intergovernmental Affairs

The City of Palo Alto engages in state and federal legislative and regulatory activities pursuant to our Council-approved  Legislative Program Manual and Legislative Priorities. Additionally, City staff tracks multiple bills that may impact or are of interest to the City; directs legislative representatives in Sacramento and Washington D.C. who advocate on the City’s behalf; and collaborates with external partners whose interests align with our own. Below is a brief summary, updated on October 16, 2017, of the final outcome of state legislation the City either supported or opposed:

1.) SB 35 (Weiner). Planning and zoning: affordable housing: streamlined approval process. The City has communicated its opposition to this bill.

SB 35 creates a streamlined, ministerial approval process for developments of multi-family housing, if the development meets specified requirements. This bill also reduces or eliminates altogether the current public and environmental review processes. Signed into law; takes effect on January 1, 2018.

2.) SB 649 (Hueso). Wireless telecommunications facilities. The City of Palo Alto has communicated its opposition to the author and members of various committees.
This bill establishes a new statewide framework for streamlining the placement of small cell wireless facilities onto locally-owned telephone poles, lampposts, utility poles, and similar “vertical infrastructure.” Small cells are wireless telecommunication equipment, owned by private companies, that include antennas and associated paraphernalia. In establishing a statewide framework, this bill would severely restrict the current local permitting process. In granting such permits, localities would usually consider factors such as design, historic designation, and safety. This bill eliminates or restricts such considerations. SB 649 affects the amount of fees local governments can charge for allowing or permitting such equipment on its poles, leading to a direct loss in local revenue. Vetoed; read the Governor's veto message here.

3.) ACA 4 (Aguiar-Curry). Local government financing: affordable housing and public infrastructure: voter approval. The City of Palo Alto has communicated its support  to the author.
To fund affordable housing and infrastructure projects, this potential constitutional amendment reduces the local vote threshold from two-thirds to 55 percent for bond and special tax measures. If passed, this measure would appear on a ballot for voter approval. Failed passage.


4.) SB 5 (De Leon). California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2018. The City of Palo Alto has communicated its support to the author.
Subject to voter approval, this bill proposes the issuance of $3.5 billion in general obligation bonds to fund, among other items, water conservation programs, flood protection, grants to local entities operating parks, and community access projects. Signed into law, takes effect immediately.
5.) AB 18 (Eduardo Garcia). California Clean Water, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2018. The City of Palo Alto has communicated its support  to the author
Subject to voter approval, this bill authorizes the issuance of $3.105 billion in state general obligation bonds to fund the same or similar items as SB 5, above. At some point in the legislative process, the bills will either merge into a single bill, or only one will pass. By supporting both SB 5 and AB 18, the City is assured that our support will remain with the one final bill. Failed passage.

City of Palo Alto’s support letter   

6.) SB 797 (Hill):  Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board: transactions and use tax. The City of Palo Alto has communicated support to the author. 

Authorizes a sales tax increase of 1/8 cent in three counties, subject to 2/3 voter approval and approval of three regional agencies, the Caltrain Board, and Supervisors of the three affected counties to fund Caltrain's Modernization program. Signed into law; takes effect on January 1, 2018.

Last Updated: Oct 16, 2017