Real Property Law

Cal. Real. Prop. Journal 2014, Vol. 32, No. 1

2013 Legislative Highlights

By Robert M. McCormick

©2014 All Rights Reserved.

I. INTRODUCTION:

The 2013 legislative session was marked by a new dynamic that resulted from a dramatic increase in state revenues and Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the California Legislature. One result of this new dynamic was the absence of a budget crisis in 2013. Another effect of this new dynamic was that, in 2013 there were great expectations for sweeping reforms. Several high profile issues that had not been resolved in 2012 were continued into 2013, with the expectation that 2013 would be the year when significant action would be taken by the Democratic supermajority. These carry-over issues included efforts: to reform Proposition 13 via some form of split-roll tax program that would increase property taxes on commercial properties; to reform or modernize the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA") to reduce permitting and litigation delays; and to revive or develop an alternative to replace redevelopment funding that had been eliminated in 2011. All of these high expectations remained in large part unfulfilled as broad reforms in these areas failed to be enacted in 2013. There were, however, some modest, but nevertheless important, actions taken by the Legislature in 2013 with respect to CEQA reform for infill projects and with respect to the revival of some municipal powers, previously held by disbanded redevelopment agencies, for the cleanup of blighted properties. Both of these actions, which are further described in this article, should have the effect of encouraging development and investment in urban areas, and may even be the starting point for bigger reform efforts in 2014. We can also expect that Proposition 13 reform efforts will be renewed in 2014, and that water, or more correctly the lack thereof, will be a central topic of discussion and legislation, and which may overshadow these other issues in 2014.

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