Save CEQA, don’t gut it

Is California’s oldest environmental law, the one that’s kept our our air and water clean going on 43 years, really the state’s public enemy No. 1?

Is California’s oldest environmental law, the one that’s kept our our air and water clean going on 43 years, really the state’s public enemy No. 1?
Rumblings from under the Capitol dome and editorial-board arguments in newspapers statewide would have you believing so. CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act, is crushing California’s economy, they insist. It’s even destroying eco-friendly, smart-growth projects!
These critics are calling for changes, including sweeping exemptions to the law, to avoid project-killing lawsuits. The truth, however, is that CEQA works: It prevents environmentally unfriendly and “dumb-growth” development from breaking ground, and it seldom, if ever, stalls good projects… (more)

CEQA Week in Review: Senate leader Steinberg intros CEQA bill hours after Rubio resigns

CEQA Week in Review: Senate leader Steinberg intros CEQA bill hours after Rubio resigns

by Justin Ewers : caeconomy.org – excerpt

After a long day of having its thunder stolen by Sen. Rubio’s resignation, the Legislature’s long-awaited CEQA reform bill was finally introduced late this afternoon by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.
We’ll take a closer look next week at the specifics of the bill, now called SB 731, which, as expected, includes intent language only and still lacks many specifics.
A few initial observations:
A broad coalition: Steinberg seems to have established détente between environmentalists, business, and labor groups that have been readying themselves for a political showdown over the last several months… (more)

Shocker: CEQA reform lawmaker abruptly resigns

Rubio, CEQA reform lawmaker abruptly resigns

By Andrew S Ross : SFGate.com – excerpt

…today was supposed to see the unveiling of a CEQA reform bill, co-authored by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Michael Rubio, D-Bakersfield.
Based on yesterday’s interview with the Democratic leader, Steinberg seemed to be at odds with Rubio about some elements of the reform proposal, but said the two would be definitely seeing eye-to-eye by today
Apparently not.

From the Sacramento Bee:
State Sen. Michael Rubio announced today that he is resigning from the state Legislature and taking a job directing California governmental affairs for Chevron Corporation.
The East Bakersfield Democrat cited a desire to spend more time with his family in a statement released today, saying he “realized that my current professional path has left little opportunity to be home for those who are most important to me, which is why I am making a change.”
One of the upper house’s most moderate members, Rubio was leading a push to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act. He was named chair of the Environmental Quality Committee last year and has worked closely with Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg on drafting legislation for the upcoming session.
Rubio said in the statement that his resignation is effective today.., (more)

CEQA Update: Some Good News for Developers

CEQA Update: Some Good News for Developers

… “CEQA requires analysis of the effects of a proposed project on the environment, but not the effects of the environment on the project. The effects on a project caused by its environmental setting or pre-existing conditions are outside the scope of CEQA analysis.”… (more)

Bill Would Create Special Courts for Land Use Cases

Bill Would Create Special Courts for Land Use Cases

By Cheryl Miller : therecorder – excerpt

SACRAMENTO — An East Bay senator has introduced legislation that would create specialty environmental and land-use divisions in California’s trial courts.
Senator Ellen Corbett’s SB 123 would create the mission-focused calendars to handle civil litigation involving the California Environmental Quality Act or “specified subject areas” like climate change, air quality and hazardous materials.
“California’s environmental and land-use court cases should be decided by specialized judges trained in environmental and land-use law, and whose decisions would be documented and published,” the bill says. “It is important that the judicial selection process be unbiased.”
Corbett, a San Leandro Democrat, was unavailable to comment on her bill Wednesday, according to her chief of staff, Andrew LaMar. LaMar also declined to discuss the legislation…. (more)

SF CEQA Hearings in March

SF CEQA Hearings in March

The Planning Department has just sent out a notice announcing that
Supervisor Wiener’s CEQA legislation will go before the Planning Commission
on Thursday March 14
, and then before the Historic Preservation Commission
on Wednesday March 20
. It is likely the legislation will then go to the
Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee on Monday March 25, and the full
Board of Supervisors on Tuesday March 26.

Stay tuned for changes in the schedule changes

Unions Defy CEQA Reformers with Taunting Resolution

Unions Defy CEQA Reformers with Taunting Resolution

By UnionWatch – excerpt

Despite their reputation as effective and extensive abusers of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to pursue economic objectives unrelated to environmental protection, California union leaders are strategically choosing to be vocal activists against CEQA reform.

Union leaders are obviously quite confident that corporate executives and the news media will hesitate to make them accountable for their practice.

The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council are an essential part of the “CEQA Works” coalition organized by the California League of Conservation Voters to oppose CEQA reform. I predict these unions will be the major funding source for broadcast advertising from CEQA Works to undermine reform proposals. (Expect advertising to run soon on these radio stations.) … (more)

Reforms for CEQA? Watch out!

Reforms for CEQA? Watch out!

by Gary Patton : santacruzsentinel.com – excerpt

Gary Patton

You have probably heard talk about “reforming” the California Environmental Quality Act. My advice? “Watch out!” The bill language proposed in the last two weeks of the legislative session last year would have eliminated all the benefits of California’s most important environmental law. When widespread “fracking” is on the horizon; when global warming and its impacts are ever more real; when water supplies are diminishing, and when huge and costly infrastructure projects (including desalination) are under consideration at the state and local level, this is not the time to weaken laws that protect our environmental quality.
Here are the three main things that the California Environmental Quality Act actually does. First, it makes government “stop and think” before it acts. Often, governmental officials decide that they really have a good idea, and want to push it through. In Santa Cruz, the proposed desalination plant comes to mind. The California Environmental Quality Act makes governmental agencies go through a process that fully analyzes the pros and cons. This means that the government sometimes changes its mind, precisely because of the new information generated in the environmental review process. Often, the changes are improvements, so projects are made better. That is what has been happening for more than forty years, thanks to the California Environmental Quality Act. There are countless examples. Unless you think that state and local government officials always “know best,” and shouldn’t have to “stop and think” about their plans, you will not want to weaken CEQA… (more)

A CEQA advance environmentalists should explore

A CEQA advance environmentalists should explore

By Stuart Leavenworth : sacbee.com – excerpt

For environmentalists in the Golden State, few laws are more sacred than the California Environmental Quality Act. Enacted in 1970, the law gives citizens and interest groups the power to challenge the decisions of local governments and state regulators and block projects they find objectionable.
Used at its best, CEQA has protected poor communities from toxic incinerators and landfills. It has helped conservationists stop big development projects in the wrong places, such as the sensitive Martis Valley near Lake Tahoe.
Yet because of its sweeping nature, CEQA has sometimes been abused in cities, undermining the kind of transit-friendly development that environmentalists say they support… (more) Continue reading “A CEQA advance environmentalists should explore”

Democrats now see downside of CEQA

Democrats now see downside of CEQA

By STEVEN GREENHUT : ocregister.com – excerpt

SACRAMENTO – Although many of California’s legislative Democrats are eager to “test drive” the new two-thirds majorities their caucuses hold in the Assembly and Senate – i.e., pushing the limits of their power to advance their progressive agenda – others are focusing on a sensible reform that almost everyone knows is slowing job growth.

Passed in 1970 at the height of the nation’s push to clean up the environment, the California Environmental Quality Act created a convoluted bureaucratic process to “mitigate” environmental harm from major new projects. One can argue whether the high costs the act imposes in terms of delays and reports have helped preserve the state’s ecology, but there’s no question it delays the construction of just about everything… (more)

Without CEQA protections, citizens have little hope of controlling the growing governmental disdain for public opinions with regards to increasing public debt to fund controversial projects like Big Rail. If you care about controlling government spending, you should care about protecting CEQA.

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