New Laws Take Effect in 2020: General Municipal Update

by on January 21, 2020

posted in Employment Law, Legislative Updates, Public Records Act, Public Utilities, Water,


The majority of the bills from 2019 addressed wildfires, affordable housing and emergency/homeless shelters.  The housing bills from last year will be addressed in a separate post.  A separate post on new bills affecting law enforcement will also be added.

The bills from 2019 are not the end of the legislative focus on affordable housing. As can be seen from the following provisions of the Governor’s proposed budget, he (and apparently the Legislature) are placing responsibility for the “housing crisis” on cities resulting in continued state intervention in local planning:

  • Revamping the next Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) cycle to promote and streamline housing development. This new process will provide more ambitious housing goals for cities;
  • $10 million annually for the next three years to continue to pursue policy changes that support housing production as well as hold local jurisdictions accountable to remove barriers to more housing production in the state; and
  • Working with the Legislature on additional actions to expedite housing production, including changes to local zoning and permitting processes, as well as adding predictability and reducing the costs of development fees.

Meetings and Ethics

There were no revisions to the Brown Act or to the conflict of interest provisions of the Political Reform Act. However, statewide campaign contribution limits for city and county elections – not effective until January 1, 2021 – were amended into the Political Reform Act to be administered by the Fair Political Practices Commission. (See Govt. Code Section 85305 et seq.)

The Roster of Public Agencies has been renamed the “Registry of Public Agencies.” The requirement for an updated filing applies to special districts (but not cities) when there is any change in the contents of the statement, such as a change in board members, name or address.  As you know, a current Registry is required to be able to file a court pleading.

Independent Contractors

AB 5 went into effect on January 1, 2020: See here for more information. Under AB5’s interpretation of the Dynamex test, all three of the following criteria must be met for a worker to be considered an independent contractor and a worker.  The Governor’s proposed budget continues the funding for enforcement of AB 5.

  • The individual is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under any contract for such performance and in act
  • The individual performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business
  • The individual is engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business of the same nature as the work the individual is performing for the hiring entity.

Public Works

Prevailing Wage: SB 1768 amends Labor Code Section 1720 to expand the definition of “public works” to include work done under contract and paid for in whole or in part from public funds, conducted during site assessment or feasibility studies, including preconstruction work such as design, site assessment feasibility studies and land surveying, even if no further construction occurs.

The requirements for dispute resolution set out in Public Contracts Code Section 9204 were extended until January 1, 2027 so that section still must be included in or attached to public works bid documents.

Urban Water Retailers

Reminder: SB 998 added Health & Safety Code Sections 116900 et seq. to require residential disconnection policies that must be implemented and must be posted on your websites on or before February 1, 2020.

SB 646 amends Govt. Code Section 66013 regarding fees for water and sewer connections and capacity charges to require that the charges be based upon the actual cost of physical facilities that benefit the payee and confirms the reporting requirements for such costs.

AB 1414 amends various sections of the Water Code to change the nature and dates for submission of certain annual reports urban water retailers must make to the State Water Quality Control Board, as follows:  Submission of a completed and validated water loss audit report on or before October 1 of each year until October 1, 2023, if reporting on a calendar year basis, and on or before January 1 of each year until January 1, 2024, if reporting on a fiscal year basis.

In addition, the bill requires that on or before January 1, 2024, and on or before January 1 of each year thereafter, each urban retail water supplier must also submit a completed and validated water loss audit report for the previous calendar year or previous fiscal year as part of an existing report relating to its urban water use.

Urban water use objective reports now are due not by November 1, 2023 but by January 1, 2024 and each January thereafter.

The urban water management plan narrative required as part of each urban water management plan, has been revised to be an annual narrative, submitted along with its annual report, on or before July 1 commencing in 2020, to include a narrative of how the urban water supplies will implement its urban water use objectives by January 2027.

Public records requests

AB 1819 amends Govt. Code Section 6253 to provide that a person inspecting a disclosable record on the public agency’s premises has the right to use its own equipment without being charged a fee to copy the record as long as the equipment does not make physical contact with the record, damage to it or provide unauthorized access to the public agency computer system. The public agency may impose reasonable limits to protect records or prevent an “unreasonable burden” on the agency or disruption of its business

Disposition of surplus property

The following new requirements are intended to identify surplus public property that may be suitable for affordable housing.

  • If your city or agency is planning to dispose of surplus land this year, please note that the surplus property disposition provisions of Govt. Code Section 54220 et seq have been revised significantly and now include property retained by a successor agency for development. Those entities required to be noticed as well as the noticing, appraisal and sale process has been restructured to favor development of affordable housing and/or opportunity zones.
  • Govt. Code Section 54230 currently  requires each city to make an annual inventory of surplus land.  AB 1255 amends that section to require that by April 1, 2021 (unless otherwise delayed by the Department of Housing and Community Development  (HCD)), the city must include describe such surplus property in a report the HCD, including the current use, address, APN, and size.  The city also must provide the inventory upon request without charge.
  • HCD will include the inventory in a state-wide inventory of parcels that may be available for affordable housing development.

Data collection bills applicable to public agencies

These increased requirements also are intended to facilitate affordable housing development. Current law (Govt. Code Section 65940) requires that a city or special district provide a list of requirements for a development project (not just a residential development). AB 1483 adds Govt. Code Section 65940.1 to require that as of January 1, 2020, a city or special district must post on its website a large number of public documents that apply to any residential housing development, although it does not change the authority to impose such requirements.  The documents must be updated within 30 days of any revisions.  The documents to be posted must show the following; while the legislation refers to a “per parcel” basis, we believe that means per a parcel, as opposed to a unit, and not to a specific APN. (But stay tuned).

  • Current fees and charges, conditions for development of residential units including affordability requirements for rent or sale to extremely low- to moderate income households, and any associated in-lieu fees, land dedication, off-site requirements or acquisition or rehabilitation of existing units; construction taxes, public art requirements, Mello-Roos, Quimby fees, and development impact fees,
  • All zoning ordinances and development standards for each parcel.
  • The current and five previous annual fee reports or the current and five previous annual financial reports for transportation fees or water or sewer connections or capacity charges;
  • An archive of impact fee nexus studies, cost of service studies since January 1, 2018.


Employment and Personnel

SB 83 provides that the current 6 weeks of paid family leave will increase to 8 weeks as of July 1, 2020, with a possible future extension of leave to 6 months.

SB 142 requires that as of January 1, 2020, the employer (including a public employer) must provide a lactation room, i.e. a room with access to a sink and refrigerator close to the employee’s workspace. Denial of time or space to express milk is a violation of state break requirements and protected rights.

Sexual harassment training

Non-supervisors must be trained during 2020. California Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 778, revising mandatory anti-harassment training deadlines, and resolving confusion about retraining requirements for certain employees who already received training in 2018 or 2019. The biggest change to anti-harassment training within SB 1343 is that employees who are not supervisors also must receive training. These employees must be trained for one hour every two years. Non-supervisors who have not previously attended anti-harassment programs must be trained by the new deadline of January 1, 2021.

Federal wage rates

US Department of Labor has issued a final rule regarding what benefits may be included in the regular rate of pay without risk of overtime liability:

  • the cost of providing certain parking benefits, wellness programs, onsite specialist treatment, gym access and fitness classes, employee discounts on retail goods and services, certain tuition benefits (whether paid to an employee, an education provider, or a student-loan program), and adoption assistance;
  • payments for unused paid leave, including paid sick leave or paid time off;
  • payments of certain penalties required under state and local scheduling laws;
  • reimbursed expenses including cellphone plans, credentialing exam fees, organization membership dues, and travel, even if not incurred “solely” for the employer’s benefit; and clarifies that reimbursements that do not exceed the maximum travel reimbursement under the Federal Travel Regulation System or the optional IRS substantiation amounts for travel expenses are per se “reasonable payments”;
  • certain sign-on bonuses and certain longevity bonuses;
  • the cost of office coffee and snacks to employees as gifts;
  • discretionary bonuses, by clarifying that the label given a bonus does not determine whether it is discretionary and providing additional examples and;
  • contributions to benefit plans for accident, unemployment, legal services, or other events that could cause future financial hardship or expense.

More information about the final rule, see here.

Gender Diversity

AB 931 is not effective for 10 years, i.e. January 1, 2030. It requires a city with a population of 50,000 or more that has non-salaried, nonelected commissions places gender diversity  requirements on  appointments to such commissions. Where there are 4 or more commission members, may not all have the same gender identity.  Where there are 5 or more members, only 60% may have the same gender identity.

Planning and Zoning

SB 234, effective January 1, 2020, provides that a large family day care home must be treated as a residential use in the same way as a small family day care home and that a city may not require the large family day care home to have a business license.

tags: data collection, gender diversity, Independent Contractors, New laws, planning, public works, Sexual Harassment Training, surplus property, urban water retailers, wages, zoning,

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