by Kenneth A. Kecskes : mondaq – excerpt
California lawmakers further streamlined the environmental review of infill residential, mixed-use and “employment center” projects under a new bill passed at the end of the legislative session in September.
By way of background, all development projects must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) prior to project approval. Under CEQA, state and local agencies must identify the significant environmental impacts of a proposed development project and avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible.
Senate Bill 743 was initially intended as a CEQA streamlining bill for a new sports and entertainment arena for the Sacramento Kings, an NBA team at risk of being lured away by another U.S. city. Legislative leaders and the business community have been asking for broader CEQA reform, because the environmental review process is time-consuming and fraught with litigation risk for developers and local governments. After last minute talks among the Governor and legislative leaders, the bill was amended to begin to ease requirements for certain classes of urban infill projects statewide.
The most significant changes: Inadequate parking and aesthetic impacts cannot be used to challenge a project under CEQA if the project is “on an infill site within a transit priority area.”… (more)