Streamlining in the Name of Economic Improvement and Job Creation Dominates 2011 California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA") Legislation

Streamlining in the Name of Economic Improvement and Job Creation Dominates 2011 California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA") Legislation

By Mr. Ron Bass and Mr. Al Herson

I. Introduction to 2011 CEQA Legislation

In a last minute flurry of activity, three bills dominated the California Legislature's attention to CEQA during the final week of the session, and were signed into law. All three bills are based on a common principle: if a project is job creating and environmentally beneficial, then the CEQA process should be streamlined.

SB 292 (Padilla, Chapter 353, Cal. Statutes of 2011) creates an expedited judicial review process for a proposed professional football stadium in downtown Los Angeles. Following the precedent set for the Los Angeles stadium, AB 900 (Buchanan, Chapter 354, Cal. Statutes of 2011) creates a similar expedited judicial review process for other large, job-creating projects known as "environmental leadership development projects." Finally, SB 226 (Simitian, Chapter 469, Cal. Statutes of 2011) contains a variety of CEQA provisions, including a new statutory exemption for installation of solar energy systems on existing structures, a streamlined review project for certain infill development projects, and also allows the use of categorical exemptions even when a project would emit greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. n1

This article reviews the main provisions of each bill, and analyzes issues that may arise as each bill is implemented.

n1 A fourth CEQA bill, AB 320 (Hill, Chapter 320, Cal. Statutes of 2011), clarifies which parties are real parties in interest that must be named in CEQA litigation.

About the Author(s)

Ron Bass is an environmental planner and attorney who serve as a senior consultant with ICF International. He has extensive experience managing, preparing, and reviewing CEQA and NEPA documents. He is co-author of the CEQA chapters in the six-volume treatise Manaster & Selmi, California Environmental Law & Land Use Practice (Matthew Bender). He is also a co-author of The CEQA Deskbook and The NEPA Book, published by Solano Press.

Al Herson is an environmental attorney who is Of Counsel with the Sohagi Law Group, where he represents public clients on complex environmental and land use matters. He is co-author of the CEQA chapters in the six-volume treatise Manaster & Selmi, California Environmental Law & Land Use Practice (Matthew Bender). He is also a co-author of California Environmental Law and Policy: A Practical Guide, the CEQA Deskbook, and The NEPA Book, published by Solano Press.

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