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

2019 items with City action

While City staff and our advocate track numerous bills and issues and engages with policy makers, the items noted below are those with formal written City action.

For items related to the FAA and airplane noise, please visit our separate FAA web portal

State items

With housing such a significant regional and legislative issue, the Mayor sent a letter on August 6, 2019 to Senate President Toni Atkins, Senator Jerry Hill, Assemblyman Marc Berman, and the entire Bay Area Caucus to provide information on the City's efforts to help increase the housing supply.

AB 533 (Holden):  Income taxes: exclusion: water conservation or efficiency programsProvides an exclusion from gross income for any amount received as a rebate, voucher, or other financial incentive issued by a local water agency or supplier for any water conservation, water efficiency program, or water runoff management improvement program. The City supported an earlier version of the bill; view our letter of support for AB 533.

April 2019 update: This bill was amended to become about turf removal and water conservation. The City's support letter was for an earlier version regarding water rebates.

SB 5 (Beall/McGuire/Portantino): Affordable Housing and Community Development Investment Program. Provides immediate ongoing, sustainable funding for the construction of affordable housing. Provides ongoing, sustainable funding for the construction of affordable housing by allowing  local governments to collaborate on state-approved community development plans, funded by a reduction in contributions to local Education Revenue Augmentation Funds. The City supports this measure, which protects school funding and allows for funds to be spent on protection from sea level rise, wildfires, and flooding. Please view our June letter of support for SB 5.

SB 38 (Hill): Flavored tobacco products. Prohibits the retail sale of flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, in stores and vending machines as a way to stop the alarming increase in youth nicotine consumption. The City supports this bill.

May 2019 update: Senator Hill will not move the bill forward.

SB 39 (Hill): Tobacco products. Imposes stricter age verification requirements for tobacco products sold online. The City supports this bill as noted in our January letter supporting both SB 38 and 39.

SB 50 (Weiner): Planning and zoning: housing development: incentives. Requires upzoning in certain areas, including near mass transit. Overrides local decision-making, particularly related to parking, housing density, and height. The City opposes the bill unless amended, as more fully explained in our April letter noting our opposition and our recent affordable housing actions.

May 2019 update: SB 50 is a two year bill and as such, will again move forward in the legislature in 2020.

SB 424 (Jackson): Tobacco products: single-use and multiuse components. To prevent litter and pollution from cigarette filters, this bill prohibits a person or entity from selling, giving, or in any way furnishing to a person of any age any single-use filters, plastic devices, electronic cigarettes, and vaporizer devices. The City submitted a letter of support for SB 424 in April.

Grade separations: To help fund the future Environmental Impact Report required for any Caltrain grade separation projects, the City will request State monies and asked Senator Hill and Assembly Member Berman for their support. Please view this March letter requesting support for more information.

Regional items

CASA (MTC's Committee to House the Bay Area) Compact: Letter to the Association of Bay Area Governments in January

Stanford's General Use Permit Development Agreement: Letter to the County's Planning and Development Director in February

Federal items

Small cell wireless infrastructure issue and H.R. 530 (Eshoo) the Accelerating Wireless Broadband Development by Empowering Local Communities Act of 2019

S.2012 (Feinstein), the Restoring Local Control Over Public Infrastructure Act, a small cell companion bill to H.R. 530 introduced in June 2019.

2018 action items

Regional items

CASA compact: Letter to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) in December


Federal items

"Small Cell" wireless infrastructure issue: Letter to the FCC regarding proposed rules related to infrastructure on city poles


Net neutrality: Letter to U.S. Senate leaders urging a vote to repeal the FCC's December 2017 action on net neutrality    

State items

AB 3014 (Quirk)Brake friction materials: copper limits: high performance road and track capable vehicle exemption.  City's May 21 opposition letter


SB 998 (Dodd)Discontinuation of residential water service: urban and community water systems. City's June 18 opposition letter; City's August veto letter


SB 212 (Jackson)Solid waste: pharmaceutical and sharps waste stewardship. City's June 21 support letter  


SB 328 (Portantino): Pupil attendance: start time.  City's August 28 letter of concern


SB 881 (Wieckowski): Flood control: County of Santa Clara: South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Project. City's March 23 support letter ; City's September signature request letter


SB 827 (Wiener)Planning and zoning: transit-rich housing bonus. City's February 13 opposition letter 


AB 2308 (Stone)Single use filter cigarettes.  City's March 6 support letter 


 AB 2809 (Patterson): California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program: hydroelectric generation facilities. City's March 22 support letter