Two weeks after it was left for dead, SB 731 – the bill to reform the California Environmental Quality Act – unanimously passed the Assembly Local Government Committee Wednesday. The bill was amended last week to ease parking requirements on infill development but it was unclear whether that would be enough to satisfy the Assembly.
At a glance, last week's California Supreme Court ruling in the Expo Line CEQA case laid down a pretty clear rule: Lead agencies can use a "future baseline" for environmental analysis, but they have to be very careful in documenting the reasons why. L.A. Metro erred in using a "future baseline," but fortunately for the agency the court concluded that it didn't make any difference to the analysis.
Reports of CEQA reform appear to be greatly exaggerated. After sailing through the Senate late last spring, SB 731 – Senate leader Darrell Steinberg's supposedly consensus-based reform of the California Environmental Quality Act – is still in the Assembly. Business-oriented CEQA reformers have reversed their earlier position and come out against it, while labor and environmental groups may also have problems with the bill.
After a variety of setbacks, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, is doggedly moving forward with bills to reform the California Environmental Quality Act and revive redevelopment. Both bills – SB 731 for CEQA and SB 1 for redevelopment – have cleared the Senate and are now pending in the Senate.
Everybody always loves to complain about the California Environmental Quality Act, but despite all the complaining we don't now much about how effective it really is and what all the CEQA activity adds up to. >>read more
Almost 60% of lawsuits filed under the California Environmental Quality Act challenge environmental review projects in infill locations as opposed to greenfield locations, according to a new analysis of 95 recent cases by two lawyers at Holland & Knight.
The new analysis comes on the heels of three other recent studies concluding that CEQA actions are struck down by courts between 40-60% of the time, compared to virtually zero for NEPA.
Update: Sen. Michael Rubio and Senate Pro Tem Darrel Steinberg have announced that Senate Bill 317, which would have made major changes to the enforcement of the California Environmental Quality Act, has been killed and will not be heard by the Senate.
The premise behind the categorical exemptions in the California Environmental Quality Act for infill and single-family projects is that projects in relatively dense, established urban areas are unlikely to create major impacts. According to a recent decision, this premise has its limits.
As does every year, 2011 included a wide range of published appeals court cases, some setting major precedents and others tinkering with the arcana of land use law. Here are some highlights from CP&DR's Legal Digest compiled over the course of the year, organized by area of law.
This compilation draws on a presentation given by CP&DR contributor and Sacramento-based land use lawyer Bill Abbott, of Abbott & Kindermann, at the UCLA Land Use Law and Planning Conference earlier this month.
Basketball fans around the country know that the NBA's Kings desperately want to flee to Anaheim. The capital's aging arena and small market won't cut it for the financially strapped owners, the Maloof brothers. The City of Sacramento has been trying to build a new arena for years -- most likely as the centerpiece of a massive redevelopment of downtown rail yards. That project appears to be falling through, so for the past few months the city, led by former NBA star-turned-mayor Kevin Johnson, has been trying to convince the team to stay.