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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
  • Collaborates with external partners whose interests align with our own
  • Supports the engagement of our local elected officials with state and federal policymakers

Communication between City Council and policymakers

Summary of 2017 bills on which the City took action

 SB 35 (Weiner) Planning and zoning: affordable housing: streamlined approval process. 

City position: Opposed        Status: Signed into law         Materials: City's opposition letter       

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 process.

SB 649 (Hueso) Wireless telecommunications facilities; small cells

City position: Opposed        Status: Vetoed         Materials: City's letter urging a vetoCity's opposition letter      

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. 

ACA 4 (Aguiar-Curry) Local government financing: affordable housing and public infrastructure: voter approval.
City position: Support    Status: Failed       Materials: City's support letter

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.

SB 5 (De Leon)  California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2018.

City position: Support    Status: Signed into law   Materials:  City's letter urging a signature; City's letter of support 

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. 

AB 18 (Eduardo Garcia).California Clean Water, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2018.

City position: Support    Status: Failed   Materials: City's letter of support 


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. It was understood that 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 final bill. 

 SB 797 (Hill) Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board: transactions and use tax.

City position: Support    Status: Signed into law    Materials: City's letter urging a signature


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.