Mike Rogge

CEQA Reform Proposed

By Mike Rogge

Capitol Update, Jan. 9, 2015 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Forty-five years ago, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) went into effect and since then reforms have been minimal. While the environmental improvements attributed to its passage are considerable, the act has at the same time been an impediment to new development expansion of existing manufacturing facilities and public works projects. CEQA is legendary for its significant costs and time delays. The threat of a CEQA suit has been used as a tool not only by environmental groups but also labor unions and even competitors to extort actions by the project proponents that are not always connected with the environment.

On January 7th, Senators Hannah Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), Richard Roth (D-Riverside) and Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) held a public meeting to announce that they would be introducing a bill (to be authored by Jackson and co-authored by Hill and Roth) to initially address the “low hanging fruit” as far as CEQA reform. They believe they have a consensus in the Legislature to address costs and time delays and provide more certainty.

Their preliminary bill will focus on three areas:

  1. Concurrent preparation of the Administrative Record by the Lead Agency during the CEQA process(to save time);
  2. Increased use of electronic documents and posting of notices and documents online (likely on the Office Planning & Research’s website) so there would basically be a viable, robust, public clearinghouse; and
  3. An effort to eliminate document dumping late in the process. No additional information could be added to the record after the final Environmental Impact Report deadline unless it was new and there was a justifiable reason for why the party had not commented earlier.

During the public meeting, approximately two hours of comments were given. The Senators did not share actual language or divulge their bill number, but CMTA expects to see the legislation in print later this month and will bring you up-to-date at that time. 

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