CEQA Streamlining Under California Bay Area’s “Plan Bay Area”

By Chelsea Maclean : hklaw.com – excerpt

On March 2, 2013, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) released the Draft Plan Bay Area (Plan), the California Bay Area’s first integrated land use, housing and transportation plan prepared pursuant to SB 375 — the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008 — which aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from cars and light trucks by improving the efficiency of regional land development patterns.

The Plan integrates MTC’s long-range Regional Transportation Plan, which is intended to identify strategies and investments to maintain, manage and improve the region’s ground transportation network with ABAG’s Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) efforts to allocate specific housing targets to individual cities and counties. For the first time, the Plan also includes a sustainable communities strategy (SCS), a new element required pursuant to SB 375 to demonstrate how the region will meet its GHG targets, as established by the California Air Resources Board (CARB)…

Streamlining Mechanisms May Soon Be Tested

Future project-specific environmental review should be considered in the context of the many streamlining provisions mentioned above. Among the myriad options, the SCEA for TPPs present the greatest opportunity, given that few projects will qualify for exemptions and the analysis that may be eliminated from streamlined EIRs is limited. Upon final adoption of the Plan, and in the absence of any litigation on the Plan, many of these streamlining mechanisms — only theoretically discussed and imagined up until now — may soon be tested…. (more)

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