California Environmental Quality Act

 

The Dark Side of Environmental Quality

You think this is going to be another piece about the shortcomings and backfires of the California Environmental Quality Act. It’s not.

LOS to VMT: the arguments have begun

It can sound like a simple step, to end Level of Service (LOS) metrics in CEQA transportation analysis. The more conceptually elegant Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) metric is easy to welcome in the abstract, with its incentives for shared and active transportation, its arguably simpler calculation methods, its potential to realign CEQA analysis with state climate protection law – and most of all, its escape from the addictive spiral of induced demand for broad, free-flowing highways that, under the logic of LOS analysis, always need widening again.

But in early August the Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) published a detailed discussion draft setting out an alternative transportation impacts metric in compliance with last year's SB 743 mandate. And alongside the big-picture discussions of environmentally conscious innovation, the technical arguments began.

Courts and OPR may revise CEQA sooner than the Legislature

CEQA's future has been in holding patterns across all California's branches of government this summer. But while big things are expected any day in the administrative or judicial branch, CEQA is a sore and sour subject in the Legislature.

Court allows Kern wind farm mitigation that depended on FAA action

California's Fifth District Court of Appeal has issued a partial publication order for its June 30 decision upholding the EIR for a wind turbine farm in Kern County's Tehachapi Wind Resource Area.

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CP&DR News Summary, June 4, 2014: Clearlake General Plan revision; a GHG quandary, "Landbridge" woes, romancing Tesla, and more

Clearlake posts General Plan revision for review

The draft EIR to update Clearlake's 1983 General Plan is up for review. Prepared by a team at Cal Poly, the draft runs to almost 500 pages. A local news report at http://bit.ly/1kkSbRP describes the plan as preparing for population growth from the present through 2040. The plan also seeks to "Protect the City's rural character and maintain the small town atmosphere."

Rodeo's CEQA exemption allowed despite alleged creek pollution risk

An appellate court has upheld a CEQA exemption for the 2011 deputy sheriffs' charity rodeo at the Santa Cruz County fairgrounds in Watsonville. Although it was the first rodeo held there in a generation, the court held a categorical exemption was proper for the event on the grounds that, environmentally speaking, the rodeo was much a "normal operation" as any other livestock or equestrian event at that venue.

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Seeing Forest Rather Than Trees Not Good Enough for CEQA, Appellate Court Rules

In a new case from Humboldt County, the First District Court of Appeals has ruled that Caltrans must see the trees as well as the forest -- at least in the environmental impact report for a controversial road widening.

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First District Upholds Categorical Exemption for S.F. Plastic-Bag Ban

In an unpublished opinion, the First District Court of Appeal has rejected an attack on San Francisco’s single-use plastic-bag ban, saying that the city did not violate the California Environmental Quality Act and that local plastic-bag bans are not overridden by the state’s Retail Food Code.

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Environmental Group Can Sue Over San Jose General Plan EIR

In a new opinion, the Sixth District Court of Appeal has unraveled a confusing set of events surrounding the certification of the environmental impact report for San Jose’s new general plan, concluding that an environmental group exhausted all administrative remedies and can sue over the EIR.

The California Clean Energy Committee sued over the certification of the EIR, saying that it should not be penalized because of the confusing way San Jose certified the EIR. The Sixth District agreed.

Napa Not Required To Do New EIR On Housing Element

The First District Court of Appeal has upheld the City of Napa’s decision to rely on its 1998 general plan environmental impact report in adopting its 2009 housing element.

Latinos Unidos De Napa sued the city, claiming a new environmental impact report should have been prepared for the housing element. But the First District disagreed, essentially concluding that the land use changes contained in the housing element were so minor that they did not trigger the need for a new EIR.