Orange County Branch Newsletter
2013 Legislative Luncheon
By: Josue Vaglienty, P.E.
As ASCE-Orange County Branch’s first guest speaker of the year, Mr. Lance M. Larson, Executive Director of Government Relations with the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) joined ASCE members this past January 17th for a Legislative Luncheon at the Center Club in Costa Mesa. Mr. Larson provided a legislative overview of OCTA’s government relations at the federal, state, and local levels, as well as providing a future outlook for legislation.
Mr. Larson began with an explanation of how OCTA Board of Directors is comprised of 18 members from local agencies. Out of the 18 members, 5 members are County of Orange Supervisors, 10 members are from both large and small cities in Orange County, 2 members are from the public, and 1 member is a non-voting member representing Caltrans:
- Gregory T. Winterbottom (Chairman – Public Member)
- Shawn Nelson (Vice Chairman - County Supervisor – 4th District)
- Patricia Bates (County Supervisor – 5th District)
- Lori Donchak (City of San Clemente)
- Gail Eastman (City of Anaheim)
- Matthew Harper (City of Huntington Beach)
- Michael Hennessey (Public Member)
- Steve Jones (City of Garden Grove)
- Jeff Lalloway (City of Irvine)
- Gary Miller (City of Seal Beach)
- John Moorlach (County Supervisor – 2nd District)
- Al Murray (City of Tustin)
- Janet Nguyen (County Supervisor – 1st District)
- Miguel Pulido (City of Santa Ana)
- Tim Shaw (City of La Habra)
- Todd Spitzer (County Supervisor – 3rd District)
- Frank Ury (City of Mission Viejo)
- Ryan Chamberlain (Caltrans District 12)
Mr. Larson also spoke about new Orange County representatives at the State and Federal government. Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) and Assemblyman Tom Daly (D-Anaheim) are new to their positions and also serve on the California State Assembly Transportation Committee, which is an instrumental committee whose jurisdiction covers transit authority and California Highway Patrol. United States Representatives Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), Linda Sanchez (D-Cerritos), and Darrell Issa (R-Vista) will be representing Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties as part of the 113th US Congress.
Future transportation funding and environmental review reforms were some of the main topics in Mr. Larson’s presentation. Mr. Larson noted that as California continues to combat its budget deficits, the future trend is to have a higher reliance on local or new sources of funding, similar to Orange County’s Measure M and M2 programs. There is also an emphasis to expand legislation to allow for alternative project delivery methods such as design-build and public-private-partnerships in an effort to reduce costs for infrastructure construction. Mr. Larson explained that such methods could be used on the upcoming I-405 Implementation Project in Orange County. Mr. Larson also stressed the need to inform the public about the real costs of infrastructure funding and alluded to ASCE’s recent 2013 “Failure to Act” Report which identified the need for $2.7 trillion in infrastructure spending by 2020.
Mr. Lance M. Larson (OCTA) Executive Director – Government Relations
Mr. Larson also described the implementation of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) federal legislation (enacted by Congress on June 29, 2012) and how some components of the legislation will affect California. MAP-21 legislation includes provisions that condense the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process, permit concurrent environmental (CE) reviews, encourage advance corridor preservation, expands environmental review delegation to states and local agencies, and provides other features designed to accelerate the environmental reviews. The California State Legislature has also been discussing various ways to align with MAP-21. Mr. Larson explained that the goal at the state level was to make the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review process more efficient, while concurrently protecting the environment and reducing project delays. Mr. Larson added that several state legislators have toured California to gather input on streamlining the CEQA review process from various interest groups, in an effort to identify ways to minimize impacts to infrastructure project delivery.
Prior to ending the event, Steven King, P.E., Program Manager at OCTA, encouraged the attendees to take part in ASCE’s Key Contact Program which provides resources on influencing infrastructure policy at state and federal levels. Members can register by going online at http://www.asce.org/keycontacts/.