Sacred Sites Bill Amended

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, June 11, 2004 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Last year SB 18 (John Burton, D-San Francisco) would have allowed the Native American Heritage Commission to participate in land use permitting decisions in order to protect sites considered by California tribes to be culturally significant or sacred. The bill failed passage in the assembly due to opposition by business groups and local governments who were concerned about the lack of definition for sites to be protected, who should determine appropriate mitigation and that the jurisdictional role of "lead agencies" under the California Environmental Quality Act would be seriously eroded by the bill.

SB 18 has now been significantly amended. One purpose of the new bill is to ensure that local and tribal governments have information to avoid potential conflicts over the preservation of these special locations before developers obtain vested interests and investments are made.

The bill now provides that the Office of Planning and Research guidelines for mandatory elements in general plans would include advice for consulting with tribes for the preservation of "Native American places, features and objects" and prescribe procedures for protecting the confidentiality of the location, character and use of those sites. Prior to adoption or amendment of a general plan, a planning agency would be required to consult appropriate tribal members.

A second purpose of the bill is to encourage local governments to consider preservation of these sites in their land use planning processes. To that end, SB 18 now provides that "local open-space plan" in city and county general plans would include open space for the protection of tribal historical, cultural, and sacred sites.

CMTA's position on the amendments has not yet been determined by the CMTA Environmental Quality committee.
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