Vehicle miles traveled strategy abuses intent of CEQA

Opinion by Don Perata : sfgate – excerpt

In 2013, to assist the city of Sacramento to build its new NBA arena without falling prey to meritless lawsuits brought under the guise of the California Environmental Quality Act, the Legislature passed SB743. The bill was proposed as a way to streamline the CEQA process for infill projects.

At the time, my organization, the California Infill Builders Federation, raised concerns that provisions in SB743 would in fact make CEQA more burdensome, creating more not fewer legal challenges to worthy projects, such as the environmentally friendly urban infill projects our members promote. The bill passed, with implementation details given to the statewide Office of Planning and Research.

That office recently released its SB743 guidelines. Unfortunately, these guidelines fail to streamline CEQA or reduce litigation and delays. Instead, they will further delay rebuilding urban neighborhoods with lawsuits having nothing to do with improving the environment.

The guidelines add many untested impacts under CEQA. The biggest would add a new transportation impact to CEQA: total vehicles miles traveled required for all projects, even those that comply with local transit-oriented development plans and regional greenhouse gas and vehicle use reduction plans such as the comprehensive Plan Bay Area, which have already completed the CEQA review process… (more)



“Making CEQA a federal case? Recent actions of California’s Supreme Court and the federal Surface Transportation Board set up a preemption showdown”

“Making CEQA a federal case? Recent actions of California’s Supreme Court and the federal Surface Transportation Board set up a preemption showdown”

By Miller Starr Regalia, Arthur F. Coon and Matthew C. Henderson : lexology – excerpt

Controversy has dogged the California high speed rail project since before its inception with the 2008 passage of Proposition 1A, the bond measure providing the project’s initial funding.  The controversy has not abated in the years since, and the project has been subject to ever-escalating cost estimates and almost constant second-guessing.  It has also been the target for multiple CEQA lawsuits.  Recent developments in this area demonstrate just how complex the legal landscape can get when it comes to CEQA’s application to large and long-term public railway projects.  Two very different bodies – the California Supreme Court and the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) – have just waded into this legal thicket to try to provide some clarity.  But things could get worse before they get better in that regard, as the stage is set for potentially conflicting rulings on the application of federal preemption law to CEQA… (more)

Surface Transportation Board Rules That ICCTA Preempts CEQA Review of California’s High-Speed Train System
The Federal Surface Transportation Board Finds California Environmental Quality Act Preempted as Applied to High-Speed Rail Projects


Fresno City Council president says ‘pansy’ should not tell city how to grow

Fresno City Council president says ‘pansy’ should not tell city how to grow

Conservation Easements Are Not Required As Mitigation For Permanent Loss Of Farmland

Conservation Easements Are Not Required As Mitigation For Permanent Loss Of Farmland

by Kathryn Bilder : judsupra – excerpt

In Friends of the Kings River v. County of Fresno, the California Fifth District Court of Appeal upheld the County of Fresno’s adoption of an Environmental Impact Report for a mining operation that will result in a permanent loss of 600 acres of farmland.  Most notably, the Court held that a County is not required to adopt an agricultural conservation easement as a mitigation measure for a project causing direct loss of farmland, even where agricultural conservation easements are economically feasible… (more)

Do CEQA courts fail to protect California’s food production?

Read the article and see what you think?

Proposed CEQA changes could push development to disincentivize car use AirTalk | December 4th, 2014, 10:58am

Meter Madness

airtalk : scpr – excerpt

A change to the formula used under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) could have a large impact on development throughout the state. Currently, the CEQA process views projects as having a negative environmental impact if they slow traffic. The proposed changes would change the perspective from one focusing on stemming traffic to one with an eye towards decreasing the amount of cars on the road and the temporal length of transportation.

If the proposed changes become final, the slight difference in priorities may change the way developers treat the city and suburbs. Whereas previous attempts under the act expanded car lanes and synchronized streetlights in order to lessen traffic, new attempts would discourage suburban sprawl and instead incentivize options for alternative transport. Those who bike and use mass transit may benefit from the proposed regulatory process, and supporters of green development are supporting the…

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CEQA Abuse Kills Construction Jobs Again

CEQA Abuse Kills Construction Jobs Again

Jon Healey with the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board hit the nail on the head last week in his column about how IBEW, the electrical workers union, used a threatened environmental challenge under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to secure a card-check provision from Kinkisharyo in Palmdale. Then, once the IBEW had that assurance, CEQA was no longer an issue…

Construction workers were thrown under the bus by IBEW and their allies in their efforts to organize the Kinkisharyo plant. These construction workers could have been employed at the Kinkisharyo work site this holiday season and be using their wages to buy presents for their children.

CEQA is one of the most well intended laws ever passed by the California Legislature 42 years ago. Unfortunately, over the years, special interest groups like labor and many others realized that they could gain an advantage for themselves, not the environment, by filing a CEQA lawsuit. The losers have been the taxpayers and consumers who paid more than necessary on construction projects and thousands of middle class workers like those who should be constructing the Kinkisharyo plant this holiday season.

The Legislature can help California’s taxpayers, consumers and middle class workers by eliminating the opportunity to use a CEQA lawsuit for non-environmental reasons. It should be a high priority next year for Gov. Brown and members of the legislature… (more)

It is a bit hard to believe that a union poses a big enough threat to stop the construction of a new plant. There must have been other reasons for the change of heart.

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