Significant CEQA Streamlining Reform Bills Enacted
Three important reform bills designed to streamline California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) processing and review for certain classes of projects have been enacted and will take effect January 1, 2012. SB 226 creates a new exemption for urban infill and renewable energy projects. It also makes a variety of amendments to both CEQA and SB 375, the landmark 2008 legislation designed to integrate California's land use, transportation and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction policies. AB 900 shortens the Court review for CEQA challenges to certified "leadership projects" by authorizing lawsuits to be brought directly in the Court of Appeal on an expedited schedule. "Leadership projects" must be certified LEED silver or higher, be carbon neutral, create "high-wage, highly skilled" jobs, and result in an investment of at least $100 million in California's economy (among other requirements). SB 292 is a narrow bill designed to accommodate a new sports stadium and convention center in downtown Los Angeles by streamlining judicial review in exchange for reductions in GHG emissions and traffic impacts.
SB 226 is likely to have the broadest effects for public agencies and private developers by facilitating urban infill projects. It will likely reduce the time and expense for CEQA review for infill projects. SB 226 expands the definition of urban infill projects, strengthens CEQA's tiering provisions, and provides that impacts from greenhouse gas emissions will not defeat the urban infill exemption under certain conditions.
Click here for a more detailed analysis of these recent CEQA amendments.ShareThis