BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ë





           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |                                                                 |
          |         SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES AND WATER         |
          |                   Senator Fran Pavley, Chair                    |
          |                    2013-2014 Regular Session                    |
          |                                                                 |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 

          BILL NO: AB 1767                   HEARING DATE: June 10, 2014  
          AUTHOR: Holden                     URGENCY: No  
          VERSION: April 22, 2014            CONSULTANT: Bill Craven  
          DUAL REFERRAL: No                  FISCAL: Yes  
          SUBJECT: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy: property  
          destruction: fines.
          
          BACKGROUND AND EXISTING LAW
          1. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (Conservancy) was  
          established in 1980 as an entity within the Natural Resources  
          Agency. It acquires and protects lands within the Santa Monica  
          Mountains Zone, which is an area of approximately 650,000 acres,  
          generally encompassing the mountain areas of eastern Ventura  
          County, western Los Angeles County, and the mountain areas  
          surrounding the San Fernando, La Crescenta, and Santa Clarita  
          valleys. 

          In addition to its open space preservation work, the Conservancy  
          contracts for law enforcement within its territory. The  
          Conservancy is traditionally funded by statewide bond proceeds  
          and general fund expenditures. 

          2.  Misdemeanors punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000,  
          or imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months,  
          or both, are possible consequences for unauthorized dumping on  
          property owned or managed by the Conservancy. 

          3. Misdemeanors punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000, or  
          imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months, or  
          both, are possible consequences for injuring, defacing, or  
          destroying any property owned or managed by the Conservancy. 

          4.  Misdemeanors punishable by imprisonment in the county jail  
          not exceeding 90 days, or by a fine not exceeding $1,000, or by  
          both, are possible consequences for violation of the posted  
          conditions of use on any property owned or managed by the  
          conservancy. Judges, in considering the recommendation of the  
                                                                      1







          prosecuting attorney, may reduce the charged offense from a  
          misdemeanor to an infraction. In such circumstances, a person  
          convicted of the offense is punishable by a fine of not less  
          than $100, nor more than $500. 

          PROPOSED LAW
          This bill would increase the $1,000 maximum fine for each  
          misdemeanor referenced above to $1,500. When a misdemeanor is  
          reduced to an infraction, the bill would increase the $100  
          minimum fine to $250 and the $500 maximum fine to $750. 

          The bill would also require revenues from the fines referenced  
          in points 2 and 3 in Existing Law (but not fine revenues  
          described in point 4) to be deposited into the Santa Monica  
          Mountains Conservancy Fund, and upon appropriation, to pay the  
          costs of any necessary property repairs or clean up related to  
          the violations, with any remaining funds to be used by the  
          Conservancy to award specified resource conservation and park  
          grants. 

          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT
          The Mountain Recreation and Conservation Authority (Authority),  
          a joint powers agency that includes the Santa Monica Mountains  
          Conservancy, states that this bill would help alleviate the  
          extensive financial burdens caused by illegal dumping. 

          ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION
          None received. 

          COMMENTS 
          Assembly amendments excluded revenues from fines for violating  
          posted conditions from the provision that would have otherwise  
          allowed those revenues going directly to the Conservancy fund.  
          As amended by the Assembly, only fine revenues from illegal  
          dumping and destroying Conservancy property would go directly to  
          the conservancy fund. This was a reaction to criticism that this  
          section of law applies to traffic offenses especially the  
          traffic enforcement program of the Mountain Recreation and  
          Conservation Authority. Subsequent to the Assembly amendments,  
          the Conservancy clarified that the relevant code section in fact  
          does not apply to traffic offenses, and, in any event, could not  
          apply to the traffic enforcement program of the Mountain  
          Recreation and Conservation Authority. It is important to note  
          that the Authority is a legally separate entity from the  
          Conservancy. 

          The Conservancy estimated that the penalties under this section  
                                                                      2







          of existing law result in less than $1000 each year, but could  
          serve as a deterrent for potential violators. 

          That section, Public Resources Code section 33211.5(a) defines  
          the conditions of use that apply to property owned or subject to  
          the management of the Conservancy. These include violations of: 

          ¤Opening and closing hours; 

          ¤Violating temporary closures because of fire, mudslide,  
          landslide, or flood or other emergency declaration;

          ¤Parking and off-road operations of vehicles; and

          ¤Activities at campgrounds and on trails regarding smoking,  
          fires, fireworks, possession of weapons, and protection of  
          natural and historic resources. 

          In consultation with the relevant Assembly policy committee, the  
          following amendments are suggested. Disregarding the technical  
          amendments, the first would allow all of the misdemeanors in  
          this section to be reduced to infractions by a judge. Current  
          law limits this option only to violations of "posted conditions"  
          and does not apply to illegal dumping or destruction of property  
          or natural features. 

          The second would cross-reference the relevant section that  
          establishes the range of misdemeanors that would be covered by  
          the bill. 

          The third finding declares legislative intent that section  
          33211.5(a) does not include stop sign photo enforcement. 









          AMENDMENTS

          Amendment 1: page 3, line 1, put a period after "imprisonment."

          Amendment 2: page 3, line 7, create a new (d): "At the time a  
          particular action pursuant to this section is commenced, the  
                                                                      3







          judge may, considering the recommendation of the prosecuting  
          attorney, reduce the charged offense from a misdemeanor to an  
          infraction. Any person convicted of the offense after such a  
          reduction shall be punished by a fine of not less than two  
          hundred and fifty dollars ($250) nor more than seven hundred  
          fifty dollars ($750)."

          Amendment (3). Page 3, line 8. Change (d) to (e). 

          Amendment 4: Page 3, line 8, after "to" add "this section" and  
          on line 9, delete "subdivision (a) and (b)."  

          Amendment 5: Add new section: The Legislature finds and declares  
          that Public Resources Code Section 33211.5 (a)(3) cannot be used  
          for stop sign photo-enforcement. 


          SUPPORT
          Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
          Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority

          OPPOSITION
          None Received
























                                                                      4