News & Analysis as of

California Proposes Overhaul of Standards for Analyzing Traffic Impacts

Last month Governor Jerry Brown’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) released for public review and debate proposed draft amendments to the California Environmental Quality Act’s implementing guidelines (CEQA Guidelines)....more

CEQA Reform in the Courts – Public Agency Can Recover Costs Despite Petitioner's Election

After Governor Brown took office for the second time, CEQA reform through the Legislature seemed like a distinct possibility. While that possibility has all but evaporated, recent rulings suggest that courts are taking a...more

California Reacts to Losing the Tesla Battery Factory Project – Is the Lack of CEQA Reform To Blame?

An editorial published this weekend by the Los Angeles Daily News asks why California lost the Tesla battery factory to Nevada, and concludes that one of the reasons is the California Environmental Quality Act....more

Governor’s Passion For Legislative CEQA Reform Has Waned, Contra Costa Times Reports After Mercury News Interview

On August 15, 2014, the Contra Costa Times reported on a wide-ranging interview of California Governor Jerry Brown conducted by the Mercury News opinion and editorial board on that same date. While largely devoted to other...more

OPR Proposes to Increase CEQA’s Costs, Complexity, and Litigation Risks with SB 743 Implementation

On August 6, 2014, the Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) issued proposed revisions to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines implementing SB 743 – the Sacramento Kings arena bill – carried...more

Governor Changes His Mind on CEQA Reform

In published reports, Gov. Jerry Brown discussed that he has had a spiritual conversion, of sorts, on his plans for CEQA reform. He strongly telegraphed that, if he wins a second term, he will not be making a push for CEQA...more

CEQA “Late Hit” Reform Bill (SB 1451) Is Withdrawn By Author

Earlier this month, I posted an entry regarding the latest legislative effort at meaningful CEQA reform. See New CEQA Reform Bill (SB 1451) Proposes Positive Changes That Would Reduce “Late Hit” Document Dumps and Extend...more

"Late Hit" Document Dump CEQA Reform Proposed by SB 1451

At one time or another, in almost every jurisdiction around the state, on the day before an important project land use hearing, an opponent of the project has submitted a lengthy comment letter (often accompanied by...more

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

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