Governor Announces CEQA Reforms, per SB 226, AB 900

 

This week Gov. Jerry Brown announced a draft package of reforms to the California Environmental Quality Act. The reforms are intended to streamline and simplify certain types of urban developments in order to reduce costs and hardship for developers who are pursuing environmentally friendly infill projects. 

The reforms, drafted by the Office of Planning and Research, come in accordance with Senate Bill 226 and Assembly Bill 900, both of which were signed into law late last year. 

Once these draft reforms are finalized, they will simplify the approval process for infill projects by eliminating repetitive studies of environmental effects already addressed in other planning documents, such as general plans and zoning codes. This will help reduce the time and cost often associated with infill projects, while also allowing cities to focus on new or unique projects that help create jobs, revitalize cities and promote transit. SB 226 also exempts solar projects located on existing rooftops and parking lots.

AB 900 sends CEQA litigation for certain large projects directly to the Court of Appeal and requires a decision on the merits in a short timeframe. The law also offers immediate help to projects that provide California with the most economic and environmental benefit.

Together, CEQA reforms in SB 226 and AB 900 are intended to reduce repetitive documentation and expedite litigation timelines while preserving informed decision-making and mitigation of environmental harm. OPR's SB 226 guidelines can be found here; the Natural Resources Agency's SB 226 guidelines can be found here.The AB 900 guidelines, released last month, can be found here.