Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that aims to expedite and add more transparency to environmental reviews.
Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, authored Senate Bill 122 along with Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, which strives to streamline the California Environmental Quality Act process. CEQA requires state and local agencies to identify significant environmental impacts of certain projects and avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible.
It would require that CEQAnet — an online database that currently hosts some CEQA documents — include all CEQA documents, which could make the information more accessible to the public and save time and resources, Jackson said.
If a project is challenged in court, the bill would allow the agency to compile the comprehensive “record of proceedings” while going through the CEQA process rather than after a project is challenged.
The bill improves the environmental review process without undermining the goal of informed environmental decision making, Jackson said.
“This bill is a practical measure designed to address common areas of agreement, and help bring this process into the 21st century, making it more efficient and more accessible to the public,” Jackson said in a news release.
The new law, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, could streamline a process that can deter some developers from taking on a controversial project. Many developers view environmental review processes like CEQA as a tool some wield to obstruct development.
“CEQA empowers every NIMBY to fight tooth and nail to resist any change,” Chris Thornberg of Beacon Economics previously told the Business Times. “CEQA and Prop. 13 have more or less created huge barriers to let the private sector do what they do.”
• Contact Alex Kacik at [email protected]