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Most CEQA Legislation Moves Forward

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The bill that got the most attention easily passed out of a Senate committee.

Democratic Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's legislation would change how CEQA deals with parking, traffic and noise, particularly for sustainable development projects. 

If those elements meet a state environmental standard they wouldn't be subject to lawsuits.

"I've come to the conclusion that CEQA does not need to be fundamentally rewritten, but it needs to be updated," says Steinberg.

"There are litigation hooks, contained within the current law that need to be looked at carefully, and ought to be changed where appropriate."

Most of the business community supported the legislation.

"We can and we must modernize the law to eliminate the types of abuses that are stopping or stalling exactly the kinds of smart growth, responsible growth that California needs to meet its environmental goals," says Shiloh Ballard with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

Republican Senator Tom Berryhill authored a bill that would allow some projects to move forward if they meet existing environmental standards, many of which didn't exist when CEQA was written more than 40 years ago.

"There's been 120 some odd state and federal laws in addition, strengthening CEQA," says Berryhill.

But Kathryn Phillips with the Sierra Club said existing laws don't go far enough.

"It almost entirely turns CEQA upside down," says Phillips. "[It] reduces the amount of opportunity for the public to know fully what the environmental impacts will be of any project."

Berryhill's legislation was the only CEQA-related bill to fail.

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