“CEQA-in-Reverse” Case Headed for the California Supreme Court


“CEQA-in-Reverse” -

Real estate developers, public agencies and private businesses involved in land development or redevelopment may soon have to contend with a new far-reaching interpretation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

It is widely known among those involved in real estate development that CEQA requires a public agency to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for any project “that may have a significant impact on the environment.” (California Public Resources Code Sections 21080, 21082.2, 21100, 21151.). CEQA, however, does not expressly provide that an EIR is required where it is claimed that the existing environment may have a significant impact on a proposed project.

The California Supreme Court is poised to decide in California Building Industry Association v. Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Supreme Court No. S213478 – review granted Nov. 26, 2013) whether this “reverse” EIR requirement is mandated by CEQA. Should the Supreme Court do so, this would have tremendous implications for real estate development projects of all kinds, and especially urban infill and development projects near transportation corridors.

Originally published in the Orange County Business Journal - May 12-18, 2014.

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