Wed, Aug

CEQA Shocker in Sacto: Beginning of the End of State Enviro Law?

DISMANTLING CEQA – While most of us were focused last week on bills in the legislature that would exempt a finite number of development projects (including the proposed downtown LA stadium) from some requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), legislators quietly passed a bill, SB 226, that could do even more lasting damage across the state. The governor should veto SB 226.

On the surface, SB 226 is innocuous enough. It is a grab bag of streamlining measures, including for solar energy projects. Deeper analysis reveals the addition of two new California Public Resources Code Sections, 21094.5 and 21094.5.5. Specifically, these “infill” provisions would:

● Enable cities and counties to use decades-old environmental impact reports (EIRs) as the basis of new zoning decisions, without updating the old EIRs

● Allow, if not require, cities and counties to ignore “growth-inducing impacts” when approving projects

● Divorce land use and transportation planning in the interest of inducing development — even in areas where there is insufficient transportation infrastructure to support growth, or where planned transportation improvements have not yet come on line

● Apply to communities as small as 100,000 people

Said one environmental attorney last week: “The infill provisions in SB 226 are unacceptable from an environmental perspective … It is a half-baked, poorly thought out proposal that lacks precision or clarity.”

That’s an understatement. The bill will worsen traffic and increase pollution all across the state, undermining AB 32, California’s landmark greenhouse gas law, and SB 375, the Sustainable Communities Strategy.

LA Neighbors United would support constructive CEQA reform that includes a reasonable tiering system for environmental review, but this approach is nowhere near reasonable. If you’re reading this governor, please know that the law would do real damage, undercutting efforts to keep California California. SB 226 should be vetoed.

Read the bill for yourself at www.LAneighbors.org,  and call the governor’s office at 916-445-2841 to urge a veto of SB 226.

(Cary Brazeman, a CityWatch contributor, is a neighborhood council board member and founder of LA Neighbors United. Contact him at [email protected] or through www.LAneighbors.org .) Graphic credit: la.curbed.com -cw

Tags: CEQA, California Environmental Quality Act, environment, greenhouse gas law, Sustainable Communities, Cary Brazeman, downtown stadium, LA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles downtown stadium

Vol 9 Issue 73
Pub: Sept 13, 2011