Westlands dumps Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels

centralvalleybusinesstimes – excerpt

• Farmers’ rejection puts project in question
• Cite costs of tunnels

The Wedtlands Water District board of directors Tuesday afternoon voted not to participate in Gov. Edmund Gerald Brown’s proposed legacy project– twin water tunnels to drain water out of the Sacramento River before it could flow into the California Delta.

Westlands says the cost is too much. The state has estimated the cost at $17 billion, but an independent economist has put the true cost at as much as $67 billion.

Critics have said the costly project would make irrigation water too costly for farmers to make a profit… (more)

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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)

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)

California Supreme Court Ruling Bolsters Bullet Train Foes

By sanfrancisco.cbslocal – excerpt

U.S. law does not allow state-owned rail projects to completely bypass California’s strict environmental regulations, the state Supreme Court said Thursday in a decision that ensures further legal complications for the planned $64 billion bullet train between Los Angeles and San Francisco…

The high court overturned a lower court ruling and gave renewed hope to those who have used the California Environmental Quality Act to challenge the high-speed rail project championed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

“It basically says that California has a right to control its own railroads and decide whether they should be required to consider carefully the environmental impacts of their projects,” said Stuart Flashman, who represents several San Francisco Bay Area cities in a lawsuit that claims the bullet train project violates the state’s environmental law.

Richard Frank, an environmental law expert at the University of California, Davis School of Law, said the ruling, however, was not a “sweeping or unqualified victory” for litigants who have challenged the high-speed rail project. That’s because the court also said in some cases, federal law will trump the state’s environmental act… (more)

California WaterFix Reaches Key Milestone As State Environmental Review Is Certified

by ect  : eastcountytoday – excerpt

SACRAMENTO – Clearing another major milestone toward the modernization of the state’s water delivery system, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) Friday certified the environmental analysis of the California WaterFix. Friday’s announcement follows recent federal biological opinions that confirm the project is consistent with environmental and wildlife protection standards.

“Today, we have reached our next important benchmark in moving California towards a more reliable water supply,” said DWR Acting Director Cindy Messer. “With this certification, our state is now closer to modernizing our aging water delivery system in a way that improves reliability and protects the environment.”

The WaterFix will modernize a 50-year-old water delivery system that is increasingly vulnerable to disruption by natural disaster and climate change. With new intakes along the Sacramento River, the project also would give water project operators the flexibility to divert water at times of high flow when the risk to native fish at the new diversion facilities is minimal, thus better balancing water supply and environmental protection needs…

For more information, including fact sheets about project costs, cost allocation, project delivery, and environmental benefits, visit www.californiawaterfix.com….(more)

Planning Commission to Decide Whether to Recommend Certification of MRIC EIR

By David Greenwald : davisguard – excerpt

The Planning Commission this evening is scheduled to make a recommendation as to whether the Mace Ranch Innovation Center Final Environmental Impact Report document adequately analyzes “the potential environmental impacts of the project for the purposes of CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act], with the project description as set forth in the EIR.”

Staff is recommending certification with a clarification “that the environmentally superior alternative is the mixed-use alternative assuming the addition of a legally enforceable mechanism to ensure that at least 60 percent of the on-site units would be occupied by at least one MRIC employee can be provided.”

Back in early 2016, the council had rejected a request to make the mixed-use alternative the preferred option and, shortly thereafter, the MRIC’s applicant suspended but did not withdraw their application.

This is the second meeting before the Planning Commission in consideration of certification of the Final EIR for MRIC. It follows a May 24 meeting where staff presented the item and received feedback and questions from the commission and public.

Staff notes that this action “is limited to certification of the FEIR and is not an action on or approval of the project.”

The issue of certification absent an active project remains controversial.

Critics have argued, “The project has not been defined therefore the MRIC EIR should not be certified

the MRIC EIR is flawed, “The MRIC makes false assumptions…

MRIC in its ‘mixed-use’ alternative proposal wants its 850 residential units to be ‘vertical mixed-use’ which is a flawed City zoning category

Finally, they add that “one of the most serious issues is that the City would be compromising the welfare of the community by surrendering its leverage to negotiate with the Ramos developers if the City was to grant certification of the MRIC EIR now. The City needs to retain negotiating power to achieve the design, sustainability features, and timelines on if and when a project was ever to move forward for a vote by Davis citizens.”(more)

We have a few questions that need to be answered to better understand the CEQA process and how it relate to other development approvals.  How do government projects differ from private development projects?

 

Most of us are familiar with the CEQA Flowchart. We could use a little primer on the next steps. What happens after CEQA is approved? How does CEQA tie into the federal NEPA requirements and how may citizens be involved in that part of the process. We need to a chart for the next steps that involve the approval of the project. How and when does this fit in? Sometimes the Planning Commission approves all the steps at one time. Other times the approvals are split, such as they are with the Geary BRT that has been approved without the  project design. We need a chart that times these options into the ERI process. If anyone can help with that, let us know.

 

Local initiative right still under legislative assault

By : foxesandhounds – excerpt

Earlier this year I wrote of an assault on local democracy in the guise of an Assembly measure intending to force citizens to run a gauntlet of local planners and environmental analysis prior to gathering signatures for local ballot measures.

In the intervening three months the measure has been overhauled several times, approved by the entire Assembly and now awaiting action in the State Senate. In its newest form the bill isn’t as bad as when it was first introduced.

It’s worse…(more)

We don’t follow the reasoning behind this author’s statements, but do agree that this is a bad bill. If you have any reason to support it let us know.