Governor Brown Vetoes Flawed AB 890, Signals Preference for More Comprehensive CEQA Reform

Miller Starr Regalia : lexology – excerpt

Fortunately, Governor Brown was receptive to the bill’s many critics, and struck a blow for local land use control, local initiative rights, CEQA reform and commence sense by vetoing it. His short letter to Assembly members, which can be found here, states in pertinent part that “[i]nstead of the piecemeal approach taken in this bill, I prefer a more comprehensive CEQA review, which takes into account both the urgent need for more housing and thoughtful environmental analysis. Hear, hear!…(more)

RELATED:
The Opposite of CEQA Reform: Legally Flawed AB 890 Would Expand Opportunities For CEQA Litigation Abuse While Abridging Constitutional Local Initiative Rights,”
by Arthur F. Coon and Bryan W. Wenter, AICP, posted September 19, 2017.)

Advertisements

Redondo Beach, Legado reach settlement over controversial mixed-use project

SF halts Mission housing development over ‘bulky’ design

By Michael Barba : sfexaminer – excerpt

The “bulky” design of a mostly market-rate housing development slated to span several lots of Mission Street prevented the project from moving forward at the Planning Commission last week.

The development would take advantage of the state density bonus law allowing developers to build denser and taller than typically permitted in exchange for on-site affordable housing.

It would rise eight stories near Mission and 25th streets and bring 75 units of housing to the neighborhood, including eight units rented at below-market-rate prices. The project is also just a block away from the 24th Street BART Station and has spots for bicycles rather than car parking.

But several commissioners were troubled by the size and design of the proposal, which would replace a laundromat and outdoor parking lot on three lots of Mission Street.

“It’s just basically plopping a foreign object into this area and not thinking about its consequences,” said Commissioner Kathrin Moore.

The commission unanimously voted last Thursday to delay a decision on the project until late November, asking the developer to redraw the plans as multiple buildings rather than one… (more)

 

Don’t bend California’s environmental rules for billionaire sports owners or the Olympics

Editorial by The Times Editorial Board : latimes – excerpt

California lawmakers are — again — considering a last-minute bill that would let deep-pocketed developers and favored projects cut corners on the state’s landmark environmental law.

Last week Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) introduced a bill that was pitched as a way to dramatically speed the construction of transit lines and parking lots needed for the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 2028. Bradford’s big idea? Exempting the projects from all the studies and public input required by the California Environmental Quality Act. The primary beneficiaries of Senate Bill 789, however, would be the proposed Clippers arena and other projects in Inglewood’s sports and entertainment district… (more)

Cadiz Stock Soars 31 Percent After Bill to Stop Water Project Fails

By Howard Fine : capoliticalreview – excerpt

Shares of downtown water company Cadiz Inc. soared 31 percent Tuesday on a double dose of good news: a bill aimed at stopping its desert water project failed to clear a Senate committee late Friday, and a federal agency signaled it may allow the proposal to move forward.

The bill, AB 1000, by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, specifically targeted the Cadiz water pumping and transfer project, requiring an additional state agency approval before the project could go forward. It was viewed as a last-ditch attempt by project opponents to block it.

But the bill failed to clear the Senate Appropriations Committee by Friday’s legislative deadline… (more)

In this case the CEQA case was brought by the state against a private party with access to water on private land who wants the right to manage the water resources under its property, and the court ruled against the state.

Environmental Report: Legalization not harmful

By Chris Conrad : theleafonline – excerpt

The Bureau of Cannabis Control announced the conclusion of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Proposed Program study on September 6, 2017 regarding implementation of Proposition 64, and the news so far is good for the legalization movement.

As the lead agency under CEQA, the Bureau prepared an Initial Study/Proposed Negative Declaration (IS/ND) for its proposed regulatory program. Based on the findings of the IS/ND, the Bureau has determined that the Proposed Program would not have any significant effects on the environment, said Alex Traverso, who works with the BCC. Public hearings will follow…(more)

California lawmakers pitch a break from a key environmental law to help L.A. Olympic bid, Clippers arena

By Liam Dillon : latimes – excerpt

California lawmakers introduced legislation Friday to bypass a key state environmental law that would dramatically ease the construction of rail, bus and other transit projects connected to Los Angeles’ bid to host the Olympic Games in 2028.

Under the bill, any public transportation effort related to the city’s Olympics bid would be exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act, the state’s primary environmental law governing development. The law, known as CEQA, requires developers to disclose and minimize a project’s impact on the environment, often a time-consuming and costly process that involves litigation…

The measure, Senate Bill 789, also provides major CEQA relief to help the construction of an NBA arena for the Los Angeles Clippers in nearby Inglewood.

If it passes, the bill would speed transit officials’ attempts to build rail and bus lines in advance of the 2028 Olympic Games while also providing a boost to the arena’s chances at getting completed. Doing so, however, would cut through longstanding regulations that environmentalists and community activists in California have held as sacrosanct to preserving the state’s natural beauty and involving residents in the development process… (more)

Fourth Appellate District Upholds City of San Diego’s Rejection of Subdivision Project and Related MND

By Donald Sobelman : jdsupra – excerpt

CEQA decisions usually arise in the context of a challenge to a lead agency’s approval of a project and a related CEQA document.  However, in a recent decision, Kutzke v. City of San Diego (2017) 11 Cal.App.5th 1034 (certified for publication on May 23, 2017), the Fourth Appellate District resolved a court action arising from a lead agency’s rejection of a project and its MND, and did so in favor of the lead agency… (more)

Los Angeles arena bill targets CA environmental law

By : constructiondive – excerpt

The Battle of the Bills is raging in Sacramento with little notice or public discourse outside of legal circles.

Dive Brief:  

  • A proposed change to California state law could shorten the timeline for environmental approvals for construction of the Los Angeles Clippers’ new basketball arena complex in Inglewood, CA, according to the Los Angeles Times.
  • The draft bill would require that legal challenges to the proposed venue under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) be resolved in nine months and would also restrict the power of the courts to stop construction based on CEQA violations. The measure would grant the same benefits to a nearby transit hub that is expected to serve Clippers fans and those headed to see Los Angeles Rams and Chargers games at their forthcoming $2.6 billion Inglewood stadium.
  • The team said it will comply with CEQA standards if the arena project comes to fruition, but critics of the potential new law said the Clippers would use it to get around environmental regulations…

Dive Insight:

Another proposed California state law would close the so-called loophole that allowed the Rams’ development team to skirt CEQA during the stadium’s permitting process, according to the Times. Assembly Bill 890, which passed in the California Assembly in June and is making its way through the state Senate, would prevent local governments from allowing projects to skip the environmental review process if developers can collect enough signatures to put them on the ballot…(more)

Faceoff with Federal Government Possibly Looming Following California Supreme Court CEQA Ruling; Cal High Speed Rail Project Also Vulnerable

By Whitney Hodgesnatlawreview – excerpt

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 : In July 2017, the California Supreme Court determined the federal Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 (49 U.S.C. § 10101 et seq.) (“ICCTA”) does not preempt the application of the California Environmental Quality Act of 1970 (Pub. Res. Code § 21000 et seq.) (“CEQA”), a state statute, to a state public entity railroad project on a rail line owned by that same entity, the North Coast Rail Authority (“NCRA”). Friends of the Eel River resolves a split among the California Courts of Appeal.[1] However, the decision may conflict with federal precedent and could eventually reach the Supreme Court. As the majority opinion and the dissent both emphasize, the decision creates a direct conflict with the federal Surface Transportation Board’s (“STB”) determination that ICCTA preempts any application of CEQA to California’s state-owned, high-speed rail project.[2] Thus, the dispute over CEQA’s application to High-Speed Rail may need to be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court. Additionally, Friends of the Eel River introduces more legal complications for the planned $64 billion bullet train between Los Angeles and San Francisco, as it appears to require that project to comply with CEQA, which could lead to additional litigation… (more)