Thursday, November 27, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS



Expect CEQA changes next year

elias column sig

By
From page A8 | December 22, 2012 |

No law annoys California developers more than the California Environmental Quality Act and they figure to win at least some changes to its strict 42-year-old rules next year.

They almost sneaked through a major softening of the state’s premier environmental law in September in the waning moments of the last legislative session, but were forced to back off in the face of heavy objections to softening the law without any public hearings at all.

CEQA requires sponsors of any building project or other development that will have a significant effect on the environment to write an environmental impact report assessing the effects of even its smallest aspects. Signed in 1970 by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, the law was intended to supplement the National Environment Policy Act of 1969, signed by President Richard Nixon. That law demands an environmental impact statement for every significant action by any federal agency.

The national law, for just one example, is the reason why the U.S. Navy cannot practice gunnery on the western side of the military-owned San Clemente Island without first making sure it won’t affect migrating whales.

The state law has been used by environmentalists and others to obstruct countless projects, with legal challenges to the adequacy of EIRs often adding months and years to the planning cycle of projects as diverse as sports arenas and apartment buildings.

Business and development interests maintain they respect the way CEQA provides the public with information about the effects of projects large and small. Effects measured by EIRs include everything from public health considerations – would a new freeway create health risks from vehicle exhaust? – to increased traffic and potential danger to wildlife. Once identified, adverse impacts must be mitigated, often adding large sums to project costs.

No governor since CEQA passed has seemed more receptive to loosening its requirements than the current version of Jerry Brown, ironically taking a very different approach than he did in his first gubernatorial incarnation from 1975-83.

In a news conference in August, Brown allowed that “I’ve never seen a CEQA exemption I didn’t like.” Later he remarked that “CEQA reform is the lord’s work.” It was no surprise, then, when developer allies in the Legislature quickly sought to push changes through.

Among the alterations attempted then and likely to return next year was an exclusion from CEQA for projects that already comply with local land-use plans previously certified as consistent with CEQA.

Brown’s turnaround on this law stems from his experience as mayor of Oakland from 1999 to 2007, a time when several projects he saw as bettering blighted areas of that city were delayed or stymied by challenges under CEQA.

In his first year back as governor, Brown signed one bill fast-tracking legal review under CEQA for a proposed football stadium in downtown Los Angeles and another speeding up big projects (costing at least $100 million) that incorporate high environmental standards. But he pulled back on a push to exclude high-speed rail construction from CEQA. There has also been talk of excluding proposed water-transporting tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta.

The entire picture dismays environmental leaders and excites development interests. “It would be really devastating for California and probably the rest of the nation for the kind of precedent this would set,” Jena Price, legislative director of the Planning and Conservation League, told a reporter.

On the other side, the CEQA Working Group, a coalition of business, labor and affordable housing interests, claims that other laws like the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and a panoply of anti-smog laws make CEQA at least partially redundant, forcing developers to spend time and money going over similar sets of facts in excessive paperwork. This outfit maintains it wants to eliminate duplication and provide even wider environmental disclosure than CEQA now does.

“Duplicative and overlapping processes often result in lengthy project-permitting delays and uncertainty,” said Bill Allen, CEO of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., in a letter to lawmakers.

Environmentalists point to a 2005 study by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California indicating only one project in every 354 is ever delayed by CEQA-related actions.

They contend business interests don’t really want to modernize the landmark environmental law, they want to gut it and deprive the public of an opportunity to force changes that have often cut many stories out of high-rises and created numerous small wildlife preserves.

The strong arguments on both sides here make it obvious that changing CEQA should not happen in secrecy, but only with plenty of public input. Even at that, some softening of CEQA seems inevitable during the next legislative session.

Thomas Elias is a California author. Reach him at tdelias@aol.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Veterans ready to serve Thanksgiving dinner

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Middle Green Valley plan moves forward

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 7 Comments

 
New focus on achievement gap of black males

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

 
Vacaville art gallery schedules open house

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

What’s the matter with Kansas Street?

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 13 Comments | Gallery

 
Sandbags available in advance of storms

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Governments shut doors for holiday

By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

 
Fairfield police log: Nov. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun police log: Nov. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Weather for Nov. 27, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Passengers in Russia’s Arctic give airliner a push

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Armored vehicle nixed by Davis ends up in Woodland

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

Court: No warrant needed to draw parolees’ blood

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: A3

 
Obama administration sets stricter smog standard

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Obama gets the bill for White House Thanksgiving

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Heart stent for Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, 81

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Snow makes Thanksgiving travel ‘a little hairy’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Union focuses on security guards at Apple

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Homeless man beaten to death in San Francisco

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Canada police arrest ex-radio host in sex case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Impoverished Lebanese city is target for IS group

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Spy balloons give police new view of Jerusalem

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

American among hostages targeted in Yemen raid

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Sierra Leone official: Ebola may have reached peak

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Hong Kong police arrest key protesters, clear site

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Prosecutor faces new criticism over Ferguson case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Grand jury documents rife with inconsistencies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 2 Comments

 
Small crowd protests in Oakland for third night

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

Ferguson residents clean up, hope for calm night

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
.

Living

Today in History: Nov. 27, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

 
Community Calendar: Nov. 27, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscope for Nov. 27, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
Nursing homes full of opportunities for giving

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Tom Hanks, wife to host Christmas tree lighting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

With shake-ups, AC/DC perseveres with album, tour

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
875 hours of holiday programming on TV last year

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Missing model-restaurateur B. Smith found in NYC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Garth Brooks cites Ferguson for cancellation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

University in Tennessee cancels Cosby appearance

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

 
.

Sports

Seahawks, 49ers meet for 1st time this season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Panda heads put away with Sandoval’s departure

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

All City football: Vikings sweep top honors

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
San Francisco’s bid for 2024 Olympics taking shape

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

NFL might not flex any Sunday night games in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
RG3 benched: Redskins to start Colt McCoy vs. Indy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Raiders’ Woodson expects to play in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Curry, 3s too much for Magic; Warriors win 111-96

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Sharks sign emergency backup goalie

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Spurs’ Popovich undergoes medical procedure

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

AP source: Tomas in process of deal with D’backs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Harden leads Rockets past Kings 102-89

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Smith to start at QB for Jets vs. Dolphins on MNF

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Butler knocks off No. 5 North Carolina, 74-66

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Atletico Madrid, Arsenal reach knockout phase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
.

Business

FBI data show thousands of gun sales beat checks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
US new home sales up 0.7 percent in October

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

US agency threatens to act against air bag maker

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Twitter now tracks other apps you’ve installed

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Health insurance sign-ups coming to shopping malls

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
.

Obituaries

Adrian Looy

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Dora Maria Aranda

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
.

Holiday Gift Guide 2014

Why millennials prefer electronic gift cards

By The Washington Post | From Page: HGG2

How to give holiday gift cards

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG2

How to establish gift spending limits

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG3

Teen gifts: ideas for hard-to-buy-for big kids

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG3

Novice crafter? There’s a project for that!

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG6

Gift ideas for the special seniors in your life

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG6

Time and money-saving holiday gift ideas

By Statepoint Media | From Page: HGG7

Oy vey, holidays! Does Hanukkah wannabe Christmas?

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG7

How to save on high-tech gifts

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG10

Shop top finalists for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG11

Sharing music: a personal gift made easy by tech

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG12

Great gifts for music lovers

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG13

Kitchen gift-giving made easy with personality profiles

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG14

Great gifts for the family foodie

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG14

Holiday shows abound in Solano County

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: HGG17

Great gifts for people who love to read

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG19

An oft-elusive yet gifty treat: coffee table books

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG19

Eco-friendly gift ideas for ‘green’ giving

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

Things to consider before buying this holiday season

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

Steps to take before giving pets as gifts

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

2014 holiday toy predictions

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

Trend-setting gifts for the women on your holiday shopping list

By Brandpoint Content | From Page: HGG23

Gifts to keep kids engaged

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG25

Gift wrap tricks to save time

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG26

Save time and energy with a family gift this holiday season

By Brandpoint Content | From Page: HGG27

Right at Home: gifts you can use – and use up

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG30

How to send gifts to faraway friends and family

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG30

Gift exchange dos and don’ts

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG30