Clearing CEQA: Study vindicates California environmental law as having less impact on development than previously claimed

By newsreview – excerpt

1 Center benefited from recent Steinberg CEQA tweak

Environmental regulations may not strike most developers as a harmonious complement to their industry, but a new study indicates that stubborn criticism of the California Environmental Quality Act may be wrongheaded.

The study, “CEQA in the 21st Century,” concludes that the act does not significantly impede business—and ties projects up in litigation far less than its critics believe.

“I think it’s bringing a little more proportionality into the discussion,” said Ethan Elkind, director of the Climate Change and Business Program at the UCLA and UC Berkeley schools of law, who helped review the report. “CEQA isn’t just about litigation; it’s also about having to do … reviews on projects that have a significant impact on the environment.

“It’s really the state’s bedrock environmental law.”… (more)

Citizens group fights city’s new short-term vacation rentals proposal

sdnews – excerpt

The City of San Diego has been put on notice by citizens group Save San Diego Neighborhoods that if the mayor and City Council intend to change the city’s municipal code to allow short-term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods, it must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

On Tuesday, Sept. 8, Save San Diego Neighborhoods’ attorneys delivered a letter with the notice and request for a formal reply from Robert Vacchi, director of the San Diego Development Services Department.

The letter advises city officials that changing the city’s municipal code to allow short-term vacation rentals (STVR) to operate in San Diego’s residential zones represents a “fundamental change” to the municipal code. Save San Diego neighborhoods also asserts that to allow STVR into residential zones violates the city’s general plan and adversely effects all ten elements of the plan, in particular, noise, housing and services and safety.

“The eventual adoption of an ordinance expressly allowing STVRs in single family residential zones will have multiple, foreseeable, direct and indirect physical impacts upon the environment and constitutes a non-exempt ‘project’ under CEQA,” the letter states…  (more)

CEQA change moves faster in SF than Sacto

CEQA change moves faster in SF than Sacto

By Tim Redmond : sfbg.com – excerpt

So the Guv says he doesn’t think he’s going to be able to gut CEQA this year. I think he’s right: The party he supposedly leads (but doesn’t tend to follow him) won’t go for it, any more than the party Obama leads will got for cuts to Social Security.
It’s partly that both are hard-fought pieces of progressive history. The late 1960s and early 1970s were a good time for the environmental movement — Congress passed both the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, and Nixon signed both. The California Legislature passed CEQA in 1970, and Gov. Reagan signed it. Back then, even Republicans thought it was a good thing to be on the side of protecting the planet.
But there’s more — and it’s interesting that the state Leg, typically not known as a bastion of progressive thought, is better on this issue than San Francisco, where some sort of changes to CEQA are almost inevitable.

Some background: What NEPA and CEQA did, first and foremost, was eliminate the problem of “standing” that had plagued environmental lawyers for years. If I couldn’t prove that a horrible development project on the San Francisco waterfront would personally injure me (which would typically mean I had to own adjacent property), I had no right to go to court to oppose it. CEQA mandates a valid, complete environmental review of any major project, which gives anyone the right to sue; I may not be able to describe specific financial damages from a project, but as a citizen, I have a legal right to an adequate Environmental Impact Report.
Likewise, anyone can appeal a development in San Francisco to the Board of Supervisors on the grounds that the EIR was inadequate… (more)

Warriors San Francisco Waterfront Arena Debate To Begin

Warriors San Francisco Waterfront Arena Debate To Begin

Reporting Chris Filippi : cbslocal.com – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — With the Golden State Warriors looking to build a new waterfront basketball arena, lawmakers in Sacramento will begin debating a bill on Monday that that could have an impact on the project.
Arena opponents are criticizing AB 1273; the California Assembly bill proposed by Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, which would clear the way for the development the stadium along Piers 30-32 along the city’s waterfront. They claim the bill strips the Bay Conservation and Development Commission of any oversight of the project.
“We really want to see the short cuts stop and let this project roll forward with the full and fair scrutiny that any other project of its size and significance would get in San Francisco,” Gayle Cahill, the San Francisco Waterfront Alliance president, said.
The whole process, she said, feels rushed… (more)

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