OP-ED: Is it time to revisit CEQA?
By Sue Lempert : smdailyjournal.com – excerpt
State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, has a major challenge. He’s the new chair of the important Environmental Quality committee, which among other things, will be considering possible changes to the California Environmental Quality Act, also known as CEQA. Gov. Jerry Brown called for reform of CEQA in his State of the State address. Now, state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is introducing Senate Bill 731 to do just that. Both the governor and Steinberg feel the act has been used or misused for corporate competition (one corner gas station trying to stop a competitor from adding more pumps), by unions to force project labor agreements, and by opponents of infill development and transportation projects to delay or stop work.
CEQA was signed into law in 1970 by then governor Ronald Reagan to provide a statewide policy of environmental protections. CEQA requires analysis and public disclosure of possible environmental impacts and necessary mitigation. It has been a mandatory part of California state and local government land use decision making. It has also been the basis of numerous lawsuits. According to the governor and senators Steinberg and Hill, it has been used to stop development often for reasons that have nothing to do with environmental protection. It also has not been updated to reflect new environmental challenges including climate change and sea level rise.
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