Governor Changes His Mind on CEQA Reform

Governor Changes His Mind on CEQA Reform

jdsupra – excerpt

In published reports, Gov. Jerry Brown discussed that he has had a spiritual conversion, of sorts, on his plans for CEQA reform. He strongly telegraphed that, if he wins a second term, he will not be making a push for CEQA reform. The Contra Costa Times reports:

“Brown said his hopes to [take up CEQA reform] have dimmed significantly. He wouldn’t say CEQA reform is dead, but he compared hurdles in changing the law to revising the Catholic Church’s persistent opposition to birth control.  ‘Once you start to fiddle with the theology of CEQA, you get into difficulties,’ Brown said.”

These statements are in strong contrast to Brown’s August 2012 observation that “CEQA reform is the Lord’s work.”… (more)

Agenda 21 in Action: Sacramento Can ignore CEQA in Building Arena—Near “Transit Area”—100 Locations in State Can Also Ignore CEQA

Agenda 21 in Action: Sacramento Can ignore CEQA in Building Arena—Near “Transit Area”—100 Locations in State Can Also Ignore CEQA

by Stephen Frank : capoliticalnews – excerpt

Government by its very nature is corrupt.  Democrats in Sacramento passed legislation that exempts the Sacramento Kings and the city of Sacramento from water protection, the CEQA Rules.  This was to keep a billionaires toy in town, at a taxpayer cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.  The worse news is that the way the bill was worded over 100 other areas of the State can do the same.

And, if you have a project within a half mile of government transit, you might be able to take advantage.  Who said the Democrats want to protect the environment?  It is all about the money for the unions, the special interests and the very rich.

“The changes in this bill specifically impact projects that are in a “transit priority area,” which means that they have some type of public transit available within one-half mile from the project location. They also affect the infill site projects, meaning a zone that is surrounded by urban areas on at least three sides. CEQA requirements on those types of projects would be eased, although a project must still comply with other existing (or future) laws that apply to aesthetic or parking impacts.”… (more)

Sacramento Kings’ CEQA Bill Could Affect Cities Statewide

Very sneaky, Walmart: How the mega-retailer rolled back California regulations

Labor, environmental, and political leaders cry foul as Calif. Democrats curtail landmark environmental law

By : salon – excerpt

Labor, environmental, and political leaders cry foul as Calif. Democrats curtail landmark environmental law

While Washington has been warring over the shutdown and the debt ceiling, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed bills expanding access to abortion and restricting local police collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement – bills that advocates hope will join past Golden State laws in proving to be national precedents. But if those bills have gotten little notice amid the showdown in Washington, another – signed by Brown the Friday afternoon before the shutdown – has gotten even less. It’s a “reform” that critics say waters down what’s been the country’s strongest statewide environmental law – and represents Walmart’s latest lobbying coup in a state where Democrats control every branch of government.
“It’s amazing to me how few people are willing to stand up to this corporation,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. “And mainly because they’re afraid.”… (more)

New, contentious Darrell Steinberg bill to give special treatment to Kings arena

New, contentious Darrell Steinberg bill to give special treatment to Kings arena

Sacramento News – excerpt

The proposed Sacramento Kings arena will soon receive a Kevin Johnson-worthy assist from Darrell Steinberg: The state senate leader plans to introduce an 11th-hour bill to fast-track the proposed downtown arena’s construction and development.

The pro-tem’s forthcoming bill, confirmed by multiple sources who asked to remain anonymous, will streamline the arena’s environmental review…

A similar bill that would apply to the Golden State Warrior’s arena in San Francisco, has been making its way through the Capitol this session—but apparently will be stuck in a rules committee, perhaps until the Kings arena bill gains traction among members… (more)

Steinberg Has Blunt Words for CEQA Overhaul Backers

Steinberg Has Blunt Words for CEQA Overhaul Backers – back off on more this year.

By Ben Adler : capradio.org – excerpt

The measure at the center of the debate over modifying the California Environmental Quality Act has passed a key legislative committee. But the bill’s author is warning business groups calling for a broad overhaul to tone down their list of demands…
(audio track)

Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg says he’s weighed the concerns of all sides in the CEQA debate – and decided he wants his bill to encourage urban infill development and discourage suburban sprawl.
But the business coalition supporting a more sweeping overhaul says Steinberg’s proposal wouldn’t do enough to spur the economy and reduce abusive lawsuits.  “Infill is one piece of that, if we agree on that approach.  But it’s a much bigger issue for California’s economy.  We’re talking about the state as a whole, and it goes far beyond infill,” says Rob Lapsley with the California Business Roundtable.
Still, Steinberg had some blunt words for the business groups: “If there is any expectation – and I know there is a big expectation – that my bill will include the lengthy and ever-changing list that the CEQA coalition seems to want, you’re gonna have to find another author, another year, another time, another way to do this,” he told the Assembly Local Government Committee Wednesday, which passed his bill by a 7-0 vote.
Labor and environmental groups are heavily lobbying against major changes to the law.  All sides say they want to continue working with Steinberg over the final month of this year’s legislative session… (move)

RELATED:
Steinberg still trying to get California environmental law deal

The State Senate’s proposal for CEQA reform

The State Senate’s proposal for CEQA reform

by : legalplanet.wordpress.com – excerpt
The State Senate recently passed its version of CEQA reform.  Having looked over the bill, it’s much better than I feared.  What seems to be the most important change is a move towards adopting standard setting in CEQA – i.e., making generalized determinations about what levels of certain kinds of impacts are “significant” such that full CEQA review is needed.  As Ethan noted earlier, this has been a regular push on the part of industry and business, and he suspected that it might have been a Trojan horse for pushing fracking in California.  (One version of this standard setting would have said that compliance with existing regulatory standards meant no significant impact – which would mean that for activities where there are not regulatory standards, such as much of fracking in California, there might have been no detailed CEQA review.)… (more)

Jerry’s Done With CEQA Reform, But Darrell Isn’t

Jerry’s Done With CEQA Reform, But Darrell Isn’t – Darrell’s reforms

By William Fulton : cp-dr.com – excerpt

Jerry Brown may have given up on CEQA reform this year, but Darrell Steinberg has not.

The Senate leader released details of his proposed reform of the California Environmental Quality Act yesterday. It’s not sweeping reform. Rather, it contains a series of incremental changes designed to speed projects along. These include statewide significance treshholds on some topics including traffic; some reforms to CEQA litigation procedures; and $30 million in annual funding to the Strategic Growth Council to continue providing statewide planning grants.

The details received a positive response from both CEQA reformers and CEQA defenders. The CEQA Working Group, a business and labor group that has called for major CEQA reform, called the bill “meaningful CEQA reform”, while Bruce Reznik of the Planning & Conservation League, which heads the CEQA Works coalition that has defended the law, was quoted as saying: “I think there’s actually quite a bit that we can get behind.”

News coverage around the state focused on the possibility that the bill will speed construction of a new basketball arena in Sacramento, largely because that’s what the Sacramento Bee focused on in its coverage.

Here is what the bill would do as reported by Steinberg’s office:

  1. Statewide standardized environmental thresholds for the environmental impacts of traffic and noise for infill projects.  Projects meeting these thresholds would not be subject to lawsuits for those impacts under CEQA and would not be required to do more for those thresholds in environmental documents unless required by a local government.  Also excludes project aesthetics from CEQA consideration. These aspects of a project impacts are currently common elements for CEQA litigation and typically are most complicated for lead agencies and project proponents to analyze and mitigate.
  2. Better state-level planning to reduce CEQA legal challenges and incentivize smart planning by amending the Government Code Specific Plan section to exclude unsubstantiated opinion for “new information” that would trigger additional revisions to the Environmental Impact Review. Also appropriates $30 million for SB 375 (of 2008) planning grants based on competitive process. This expands the current CEQA exemption for specific planning so that projects undertaken pursuant to that local plan and EIR are not subject to further review or CEQA lawsuits.  Further, local governments typically prioritize investment in smart growth plans.
  3. CEQA streamlining for clean energy projects and formalizes a Renewable Energy Ombudsman position to expedite renewable siting. This would cut red tape on large renewable energy projects and establish a position in the Office of the Governor to champion renewable energy projects within the State Government.
  4. CEQA lawsuit reforms to speed up disposition of legal challenges. Specifically:
    o Allows the lead agency to comply with notices and findings on EIR’s through the Internet;

    • Allows the 30-day statute of limitations to bring actions under CEQA to be tolled by mutual agreement of parties in order to facilitate settlements;
    • Authorizes project proponents to request and pay for concurrent internet-based preparation of the administrative record for all projects to reduce litigation delays, saving months if not a year off project delays;o Allows courts to issue partial remands of environmental documents to reduce re-notice/recirculation/litigation delays where lead agencies have been found to be in violation of the law;
    • Directs the Attorney General to track lawsuits and report to the Legislature in order to provide lawmakers and the public with accurate information on whether or not CEQA is being abused by vexatious litigants… (more)

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) threatened in San Francisco

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) threatened in San Francisco

by KPFA Evening News, 05.18.2013 – excerpt

California’s most important environmental law, the California Environmental Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), is under attack, and activists are trying to make sure the act will still hold sway in San Francisco. CEQA requires corporations and landholders to provide public information about potential environmental impacts of their projects in advance. A statewide coalition recently blocked attempts to weaken CEQA at the state level, but now San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener has proposed to weaken CEQA locally. Supervisor Jane Kim has proposed competing legislation which is more CEQA friendly… (more, including audio)

CEQA Roundup: Faced with budget uncertainty (again), how much can Steinberg do?

CEQA Roundup: Faced with budget uncertainty (again), how much can Steinberg do?

by Justin Ewers : caeconomy.org – excerpt

The state budget continued to muscle CEQA off the political stage this week, with the governor announcing a less-rosy fiscal forecast than many had expected—and the lukewarm response from Democrats offering a glimpse at just how much CEQA reform’s foremost champion, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, currently has on his plate.
Only a few days after wading back into the state’s complex water issues, Steinberg also led Democratic lawmakers’ pushback against the governor’s top budget priority—a new funding formula for schools—along with an array of other proposals affecting everything from the courts to health and human services.
“There’s a disappointing aspect to [the governor’s budget],” Steinberg said, voicing concern among Democrats that the state isn’t doing enough to restore cuts made during the recession. “The budget debate [now] begins in earnest,” Steinberg warned. (That conversation has become even more heated after the LAO’s released its analysis of the state’s fiscal situation today.)
With CEQA reform also waiting in the wings (a task so politically complicated Steinberg has jokingly said his legislation could be called the “How to Make No Friends Act”), it does beg the question: How much can one man do?

CEQA to the back burner?…

Regions push for change

At a recent forum in San Francisco, a group of economic development experts agreed that without making changes to CEQA, regions like the Bay Area simply cannot address one of their most pressing needs: Rebuilding the state’s crumbling infrastructure…

“I would say CEQA is part of our state infrastructure deficit,” said Steve Heminger, executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area’s regional transportation planning and finance agency… (more)

Nothing San Francisco and SPUR have done in recent years has added affordable housing and nothing they have planned will add any. Everything they do drives land values and rents, and mortgages higher.

CEQA Roundup: For a moment, everyone lines up behind Steinberg

CEQA Roundup: For a moment, everyone lines up behind Steinberg

by Justin Ewers : caeconomy.org – excerpt

For one day this week, at least, all of the major players in the CEQA debate seemed to be on the same page: Which is to say, directly behind Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.
After several months of public squabbling over how to change the state’s premier environmental law, Steinberg made his pitch for his CEQA reform bill to the Senate’s environmental quality committee—and the line of people testifying in support went almost out of the committee room’s door.
“People on all sides are serious about this,” Steinberg told the committee. “I’ve come to the conclusion that CEQA doesn’t need to be fundamentally rewritten, but it needs to be updated. There are parts of the law that ought to be changed.”
Real disagreements still exist over how best to proceed (more below on where the debate seems headed), but on Wednesday, Steinberg was flanked by leaders of the business coalition supporting reform and environmental groups that have opposed overhauling the law. Queued up behind him were advocates from the newly-formed public works coalition—the public agencies responsible for implementing CEQA—as well as a range of affordable housing groups, alternative energy producers, and city planners.

What everyone agrees on
All seemed to agree on one thing: Steinberg’s SB 731 is a good-faith effort to reform the state’s more than 40-year-old environmental law… (more)

 

 

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