WILL CEQA REFORM EVER HAPPEN?

Addressing issues related to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) a measure that which was initially meant to bring sunshine to government projects but has morphed into a significant burden on the private sector, is always on the minds on Capitol denizens.  Every year it seems that politicians and Governors from both parties say, they are going to tackle the issue and reform it, but the only projects that ever seem to benefit are massive sports arenas.

We are always looking for signs that real CEQA reform may happen, and this year the new Governor’s focus on affordable housing are providing some silver-linings as one of the most significant hurdles to meeting the state’s dire need for more homes is the panoply of CEQA enabled lawsuits from NIMBY concerns to those meant to leverage labor negotiations.  Yes, there are some legitimate CEQA lawsuits but unfortunately those have so significantly been overwhelmed by the frivolous lawsuits that we need to remind ourselves of that.

As part of his aggressive rollout of the budget and initiatives to address housing affordability, Governor Newsome notes that the state’s current ranking of 49th out of 50th in home production “isn’t cutting it,” and that he wants to increase the current production of under 100,000 units per year to as much as 400,000 in the next three years.

To reach that goal, the Governor notes has been talking to organized labor and the real estate industry about a deal to streamline CEQA, stating, “We are past the point of absurdity with some of the abuses we are seeing,” Newsom said.”

These abuses happen on residential, commercial, and public projects, and we are hopeful the Governor stays aggressively engaged and doesn’t allow this momentum to slip away.

We are not yet ready to declare this “The Year of CEQA Reform,” but we are pleased to see clear-headed acknowledgement of the issue and nascent activity needed to lead to a solution.

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