Gov. Jerry Brown entered office three months ago with a vow to close the state's $26 billion budget gap as pragmatically as possible. What started out as an exercise in accounting has now risen to high political drama, most recently with the issuance of a 'list of demands' from state Republican lawmakers.
Not a single Republican member of the state Senate or Assembly has yet agreed to vote to put Brown's package of tax extensions on an upcoming statewide ballot. Doing so requires a 2/3 majority in both houses. Friday, GOP leaders told Brown what they want from him if they are to even consider supporting his tax plan. It's a long list, written roughly enough to suggest that perhaps it was not thought out thoroughly and is instead a document of opportunity. The GOP may, indeed, be throwing suggestions against the wall to see which ones stick. Not surprisingly, the list includes plenty of demands related to land use.
Reform of the California Environmental Quality Act has been long sought by many who contend that it unduly burdens the development process. In fact, the GOP has often opposed CEQA outright, thus perhaps complicating their demand that it be reformed.
- Limit the amount of attorney's fees that a losing side would be liable for, and try to limit the size of overall awards.
- A lead agency not be required to respond to a comment after the closure of public comment period.
- Facilitate the development of urban infill projects.
- GHG emissions should be considered less-than-significant as long as a project is using best management practices; zero emissions not necessary.
The GOP seeks a "fix" in response to the recent decision in Azusa Land Parnters v. Dept. of Industrial Relations (see CP&DR Legal Digest Vol. 26, No. 2, Jan. 2011), which requires all projects in a Mello-Roos district to pay prevailing wages.
Restore the Williamson Act subventions, to help landowners protect farmland and open space, for at least four years.
The entire list is available here, on the L.A. Times' website.