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December 29, 2021  |  Written by Ellen M. Moskal

New California Laws Coming into Effect on January 1, 2022

The California Legislature passed approximately 900 bills in 2021, of which 770 were signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. Many of these bills relate to water, land use, local governance, and air quality.

The California Legislature passed approximately 900 bills in 2021, of which 770 were signed by Governor Gavin Newsom.

The following provides a non-exhaustive list of such bills, including links to the bill text and analysis, with detailed information regarding select bills of particular importance to local agencies.


SB 427: Enhanced Penalties for Water Theft. SB 427 authorizes the legislative body of a local agency to adopt an ordinance prohibiting water theft and making a violation of said ordinance punishable by an administrative fine or penalty. Water theft is defined as an action to divert, tamper, or reconnect water utility services. Allowable fines vary based on the form of water theft used, distinguishing between theft committed via meter tampering or by any other method. Maximum fines range from $130 to $1,300 for thefts via meter tampering, or from $1,000 to $3,000 for all other methods. Local agencies are also directed to create a process for granting hardship waivers to reduce the amount of the fine if it would impose an undue financial burden on the responsible party.

AB 100: Lead in Drinking Water

AB 304: Remedial Actions for Waste Releases, Surface Water, or Groundwater Contamination

AB 1250: Consolidation of Service for Water and Sewer System Corporations

AB 1066: Priority inland water-contact recreation sites: Water Quality Monitoring for Priority Inland Water-Contact Recreation Sites

SB 821: Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Independent Science Board

SB 273: Water Quality Standards for Municipal Wastewater Agencies

SB 552: Drought Planning for Nontransient Noncommunity Water Systems

SB 403: Consolidation of Drinking Water Systems

SB 776: Safe Drinking Water and Water Quality

Local Governance

SB 274: Local Agency Meeting Materials. SB 274 requires local agencies to provide meeting materials by emails upon request. Relevant meeting materials include the agenda and all documents constituting the agenda packet. This requirement applies only if a local agency has an internet website, and determines it is technologically feasible. If it is not technologically feasible to provide materials by email, the legislative body must mail a copy or a website link to the agenda, and mail a copy of all other documents. Failure of the requesting party to receive the materials is not grounds to invalidate the actions taken at the meeting.

AB 473 & AB 474: Public Records Act

SB 813: Local Government Omnibus Act of 2021

AB 361: Open meeting requirements for teleconferences

Land Use

AB 819: California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) electronic filing and posting requirements for notices and other documents. AB 819 requires lead agencies to mail or email CEQA notices, and to post them on the lead agency’s internet website. Notices of an Environmental Impact Report prepared pursuant to CEQA must be posted on the internet website of the county clerk of each county in which the project is located. Additionally, the bill requires a 45-day public review period for draft environmental impact reports, or 30 days for draft negative declarations or mitigated negative declarations, where a state agency is the lead, responsible, or trustee agency, otherwise has jurisdiction over the project, or if the project is of sufficient statewide, regional, or areawide significance. Finally, notices of determination or exemption must be filed electronically, and be available for inspection on the Office of Planning and Research’s website for at least 12 months.

SB 716: Extending Operation of the Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Act and Associated Government Code Provisions

AB 970: Approval of Permits for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

SB 790: Compensatory Mitigation Credits for Wildlife Connectivity Actions

AB 379: Wildlife Conservation

SB 574: Williamson Act Notice Requirements

SB 44: Streamlined Judicial Review for Environmental Leadership Transit Projects

AB 1409: Safety Element of General Plans

In addition, many bills addressed Housing Elements in General Plans, affordable housing, and housing density.

Air Quality

AB 794: Drayage and Short-Haul Trucks. AB 794 establishes new labor standards for fleet purchasers in order to be eligible to receive incentives for new drayage and short-haul trucks. The referenced incentives programs are administered by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and provide financial assistance for the purchase of vehicles. The statute allows CARB to determine whether any listed requirements are infeasible, after which CARB must reevaluate delayed or suspended requirements.

AB 1346: Regulations to Prohibit Engine Exhaust and Emissions from Small Off-Road Engines

SB 589: Alternative Vehicles and Vehicle Infrastructure

AB 1261: CARB Incentive Programs for Greenhouse Gas Emissions

SB 372: Medium- And Heavy-Duty Fleet Purchasing Assistance Program for Zero-Emission Vehicles

AB 992: California Clean Truck, Bus, and Off-Road Vehicle and Equipment Technology Program

AB 619: Air Quality Planning for Major Air Quality Events, Including Wildfires

For more information regarding the applicability and implementation of the above statutes, please contact Ellen Moskal at

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