CEQA legislation attacking most egregious abuses defeated in policy committee
April 30, 2015 - SACRAMENTO – Senator Tom Berryhill (R-Twain Harte) announces the defeat of Senate Bill 389 (SB 389), his legislation to modernize the California Environmental Quality Act. SB 389 was rejected late Wednesday in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on a party line vote.
SB 389 would have integrated newer – and sometimes stricter –environmental planning laws with the CEQA process, thus eliminating duplicative environmental review and frivolous lawsuits not based on environmental issues. This would restore order and predictability for businesses and public agencies trying to meet community needs.
Senator Berryhill issued the following statement:
“Once again the legislature turns its back on relief for main street business. My colleagues continues to bless CEQA exemptions for sports venues but can’t seem to find their way to offer the same consideration to the average Joe trying to start a business or for communities trying to open a library or affordable housing projects.
“The approach I brought forth today has been the centerpiece of conversations on substantive CEQA reform discussions for the past few years. To ignore it when crafting so-called solutions is an insult to the hard working folks trying to get through a process that is totally broken. Tinkering around the edges of real reform is not reform.
“Support for exemptions is an acknowledgement that the environmental review process is broken. So while the legislature gladly issues exemptions for stadiums, I question what it does for the mom and pop projects languishing in CEQA limbo for years. Clearly, after today’s vote, there is no relief in sight for Main Street.
“Anything we can do to for businesses and to build jobs is a good thing and we should be doing it.”
SB 389 does not pretend to be the cure-all for every CEQA issue, but it does get at the heart of the problem - projects which are delayed or derailed for reasons other than environmental issues. It does not circumvent CEQA or weaken the environmental protections but merely streamlines the CEQA review process, eliminating duplicative review and avenues for frivolous lawsuits. Most importantly SB 389 will provide jobs by getting projects moving more quickly.
What people are saying about SB 389:
- “With over 100 environmental laws adopted since the enactment of CEQA in 1970, your proposed overhaul of the process, without changing the important environmental laws in place, marks a welcome relief from a now over encumbered process.” (CA Association of Realtors)
- “SB 389 will serve as a litigation guide to some of the major issues within CEQA. In this, the CEQA process will be streamlined and disruptive litigation will be prohibited on aspects of a project that meet all existing state, local and federal environmental standards.” (Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce)
- “This bill is not an exemption to CEQA. Rather it simply shifts limited environmental review procedures to a more objective standard where a bona fide alternative standard exists.” (Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce)
- “SB 389 is a common sense, pragmatic approach to reforming CEQA.” (California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse)