CEQA faces changes

August 23, 2012

A proposal to loosen the California Environmental Quality Act is expected to be introduced in Sacramento as soon as Thursday, giving the public and lawmakers only about a week to debate and consider the controversial legislation’s fate. [SFGate]

Backers of the proposal say that some individuals and groups misuse CEQA in order to stop or delay development for non-environmental reasons and that the act is in need of an update.

And while it typically takes at least several months – often longer – for a proposal to be vetted by committees and then go to a vote of the Legislature, nearing the end of a session controversial proposals sometimes are inserted into bills and pushed through.

People both for and against changes to CEQA expect language that would alter the environmental law to be inserted into SB317 by state Sen. Michael Rubio, D-Bakersfield. That bill pertains to fish management in the Kings River.

Under the proposal, projects that meet the requirements of an existing land-use plan – which has met CEQA mandates – would be exempt from going through CEQA’s review process. Backers say it will eliminate duplication while opponents say it means the public will not have a chance to weigh in on – and force changes to – large projects that will affect them or the environment.

CEQA, passed in 1970, mandates that a public agency must determine whether a proposed project would have a significant environmental impact. If so, the project becomes the subject of an environmental impact report, on which the public can comment. Those comments must then be addressed in the report that is required to include ways to mitigate impacts on the environment.


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I think this is a good move. It will quicken future developments and help CA’s economy.

I must assume those that sponsored CEQA in the 70’s had great cause given the lack of environmental protection at the time. As with much well intended legislation, unintended consequences often can’t be anticipated. CEQA has become another NIMBY tool that is leveraged against legally zoned development. Much like the Coastal Commission’s transition from protecting coastal access for the public to a police-state like group meddling with development well inside the coastal areas…I just shocked myself reading my own words. I sound like an ultra conservative developer and I am neither. I suppose this reasonable independent is sick of people too weak to have the courage to actually say they hate a project or that they have a personal issue with the property owner run and hide behind CEQA. If we had the balls to speak to each other we wouln’t need to abuse the system. Excuse any typos, I’m on my iPad.

CEQA should be featured on “Government Gone Wild”. Yes, it was needed and well-intentioned as were the federal environmental laws enacted under Nixon (serious environmental scholars give the top two spots for best environmental president to Teddy Roosevelt and Nixon). Designed to protect environmentally sensitive habitat and stop pollution sources, environmental regulations now cover every convoluted perturbation and are nothing more than the tool of activists and lawyers.

Nixon signed the law created the National Environmental Protection Act, or NEPA. Reagan signed into law CEQA.

Work on your reading and comprehension, “AS WERE the federal laws enacted under Nixon” I know that the “C” in CEQA stands for California. The subject was CEQA, the federal laws were analogically referenced.

I don’t understand your comment about “people too weak to speak up (I’m paraphrasing) and hide behind CEQA”. One of the key purposes of CEQA is to allow the public to speak up and go on the record with their thoughts about a project that would affect public resources (air quality, water quality, wildlife, etc.). If significant problems with the project are identified by the public, it can be modified or rejected in order to protect those resources. Thus, CEQA is democracy in action. Many other states do not even come close to having something like this.

Here is my response being typed all-thumbs from my iPad. So, you are proposing a project that I simply don’t like…the color is icky, I prefer California Mission architecture as opposed to your modern design, and I don’t particularly like the version of white that your pickup is painted. While you may very well design your project to all code requirements, and it gets passed by a planning commission, I can gather enough fellow naysayers, appeal the project and begin the proven process of erecting roadblocks including a “perceived/potential” CEQA issues in an attempt to cause the applicant additional time and MONEY with the hope that they will raise their hands in disbelief and walk away. Again, I’m not in development but have watched these shenanigans repeatedly. I would love to see appellates have to burden additional costs if all required conditions have already been met.

I will quit puffing on my pipe of dreams and stop here.