CEQA Reform

News & Analysis as of

Governor Brown's Promised SB 4 Amendments: Proposals Should Appease Environmental Critics by Closing Potential CEQA Loopholes

In his SB 4 signing message (see September 20, 2013 post), Governor Brown promised certain “clarifying” amendments for SB 4, and his administration has begun the process of seeking those amendments....more

Supreme Court is Primary CEQA Reform Engine

Followers of CEQA reform efforts over the past several years will have observed two general trends: (1) Legislative reform has proven difficult, incremental, and marked by political division and dealmaking; and (2) the...more

Specific Plan EIRs and Exemptions for Follow-On Actions

The 2013 legislative session began with high hopes that California’s landmark environmental law – the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) – would be reformed. Developers, builders, and public agencies across the state...more

CEQA Reform: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

The past legislative session held the prospect for significant reform of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). After the dust settled though, the only proposal able to survive the legislative gauntlet was one...more

Will 2014 Finally Be The Year For Long-Awaited CEQA Reform?

The 2013 legislative session began with a flurry of political jockeying and high hopes for CEQA reform, but the results left parties on both sides of the aisle unsatisfied. In early 2013, Senate President pro Tem Darrell...more

2014 Land Use Program - Northern California

In this presentation: - Legislative CEQA Reform Efforts - Selected CEQA Case Law Developments - Land Use Developments - What’s Happening in Tracy? - Overview and Purpose - Site...more

CEQA Year In Review 2013 - A Summary Of Published Appellate Opinions Under CEQA

INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW - The published court decisions in 2012 reflected a heightened recognition that CEQA does not require perfection, but rather a reasonable effort to provide environmental information that...more

Office of Planning and Research Seeks Input on Proposed Changes to State CEQA Guidelines - Deadline for Comments is 5:00 p.m. on...

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) recently released a preliminary list of topics and possible changes for inclusion in the 2014 update to the State CEQA Guidelines. The topics being considered can be found...more

Judicial CEQA Reform On Supreme Court’s Docket In Coming Year?

Few would dispute that the California Supreme Court has played a leading role in judicial CEQA reform in recent years. It has clarified the law on the operation of CEQA’s statues of limitations, and attempted to bring more...more

Supreme Court Will Review “CEQA-In-Reverse” Issue In CBIA Case Challenging 2010 BAAQMD Air Quality Guidelines

On November 26, 2013, the California Supreme Court by unanimous vote granted review of a fundamental legal issue that repeatedly has surfaced in recent years in both published appellate opinions and the legislative debate...more

“The Year in CEQA: A Look Back”

My October 31 presentation with David Ivester for the Bay Planning Coalition on recent CEQA developments brought home the fact that while there has been only partial and incremental legislative reform (in the form of SB 743),...more

Governor Brown Signs SB 743 - The CEQA Reform That Wasn't

On September 27, 2013, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 743, bringing to a close a legislative session full of surprises when it comes to CEQA reform. SB 743 paves the way for streamlined judicial review of the proposed new...more

California Appellate Court Issues Significant Opinion Regarding CEQA Administrative Records and the Common Interest Doctrine

In Citizens for Ceres v. The Superior Court of Stanislaus County, City of Ceres, et al., (filed and published in part by the Fifth Appellate District on July 8, 2013), the petitioner in a CEQA lawsuit sought relief from the...more

CEQA Reform? What's In and What's Out with SB 731 (And What's Next...)

Lauded as the CEQA Modernization Act of 2013, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s SB 731 includes a number of amendments to CEQA that appear intended to appeal to a wide variety of interest groups. SB 731 replaces...more

The Direction of CEQA “Reform” Under Proposed SB 731: One Step Up and Three Steps Back?

There has been a lot of buzz around proposed SB 731, which is working its way through the State Legislature and will be heard Monday, May 20, in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Notwithstanding the hype and hopes, I think...more

Update on CEQA Reform: Steinberg’s Quest for the “Elusive Middle Ground”

The last year witnessed what once appeared to be a groundswell of support for the “modernization” of the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”), loosely meaning easing the burden of the process itself and minimizing...more

CEQA Reform: The Cure May Be Worse Than The Disease

According to the author’s April 23, 2013 press release, the amended version of Senate Bill 731 is a “comprehensive reform” of CEQA, “modernizing the law to aid California’s economic growth.” But a close review shows that the...more

AB 900 CEQA Reform Law Partially Struck Down

Ruling from the bench at a March 29, 2013 hearing, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch found a key provision of an ambitious CEQA reform law championed by Senator Darrell Steinberg to be unconstitutional....more

New Significance Standard For Greenhouse Gas Emissions Is Not New Information Triggering Supplemental CEQA Review

In an opinion published on March 28, 2013, a California court of appeal answered three questions under the California Environmental Quality Act that the published decisions have not yet addressed...more

CEQA: Reforming California's Landmark Environmental Law

California has always been on the cutting edge when it comes to environmental protection. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the adoption and implementation of the California Environmental Quality Act, frequently referred...more

“Bare-Bones” CEQA Reform Bill (SB 731) Introduced By Senator Steinberg; Senator Evans Proposes Legislation to Further Expand CEQA

On February 22, 2013, Senator President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg introduced SB 731, a bill the Senator’s website press release described as “outlining the detailed intent that strengthens [CEQA’s] protection of the...more

New CEQA Bill - Cure Or Band-Aid?

In response to a business community campaign calling for broad CEQA reform, Senate President Pro, California State Senator Tempore Darrell Steinberg, released his highly anticipated CEQA “modernization” bill (SB 731). So...more

Perfect Storm for CEQA Reform In 2013? Former Govs Weigh In

Hot on the heels of Governor Jerry Brown’s 2013 State of the State address, which raised the need for CEQA reform (as noted in my immediately-preceding blog post), a trio of former California governors has echoed and...more

Are Courts Actively Limiting CEQA’s Scope In The Absence Of Meaningful Legislative Reform?*

While no California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) reform was achieved by the California Legislature in its last session, Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg has indicated in a recently-issued statement that it...more

CEQA Reform – Legislature Balks In 2012: What is the Starting Point for Working Group Discussions and 2013 Legislation?

In recognition of the complexity and political rancor surrounding CEQA reform, Governor Jerry Brown quipped this week that CEQA reform was "the Lord's work." Concurrent with his comments, major CEQA reforms were being...more

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