Will 2014 Finally Be The Year For Long-Awaited CEQA Reform

January 23, 2014

San Francisco Daily Journal

Don’t bet on it. If one thing seems clear from last year’s efforts at reform, it is that 2014 won’t bring the “magic bullet” that opponents of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) have been waiting for.

The 2013 legislative session began with a flurry of political jockeying and high hopes for CEQA reform, but the results left parties on both sides of the aisle unsatisfied. In early 2013, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and then-Sen. Michael Rubio formed an advisory committee that produced Senate Bill 731. The relatively moderate proposal, which initially seemed to have bipartisan support, focused on speeding up the CEQA process, facilitating infill projects, and promoting “tiering” to avoid duplicative review. But the very same day it was introduced, Rubio — a long-time champion of CEQA reform — resigned from the Senate to take a position with Chevron. Then, following a meeting with Gov. Jerry Brown in mid-September, Steinberg agreed to withdraw SB 731 and throw his support behind a bill that would pave the way for a new arena for the Sacramento Kings. Meanwhile, Sens. Noreen Evans and Tom Berryhill also introduced reform bills in 2013, neither of which gained traction.

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