California Supreme Court Rejects Mandatory “Reverse CEQA” Analysis

By Heather S. Riley : allenmatkins – excerpt

The California Supreme Court issued its long awaited opinion yesterday in California Building Industry Association v. Bay Area Air Quality Management District (CBIA v. BAAQMD), commonly referred to as the “Reverse CEQA” case. Read the full decision.

The Supreme Court’s opinion upholds four published CEQA decisions and rejects the so-called “reverse CEQA” argument, which would require an analysis of the “impact of existing environmental conditions on a project’s future users or residents” for every proposed development project in California. The Court held – based on the plain language of CEQA – that a lead agency must analyze the impact of existing environmental conditions on a project only for certain airport, school, and housing construction projects and when a proposed project “risks exacerbating” existing “environmental hazards or conditions.”

Opponents of development have often advanced the reverse CEQA argument as a back-up claim in case their substantive claims fail. The Supreme Court not only took on the issue, thereby limiting the circumstances under which the opposition can make such a claim, but the Court also disputed the “reverse CEQA” nomenclature as “misleading and inapt.”

The Supreme Court’s decision is good news for the development community. However, there have been recent efforts to enact legislation that would statutorily recognize the reverse CEQA argument. It would not be surprising if the CBIA v. BAAQMD decision sparks renewed efforts on that front in Sacramento…(more)

RELATED:
California Supreme Court Rejects Mandatory “Reverse CEQA” Analysis Supreme Court Reaffirms Scope of CEQA Analysis in California Building Industry Association (CBIA) v. Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD)

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