Senate Bill 469 (Vargas; D-San Diego), a bill pushed by some unions to make it more difficult to build “big box” retail stores in California, will be heard in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on Monday. Under the guise of “assuring better planning decisions by local governments,” the bill inappropriately used the state’s environmental laws to make it more difficult for certain retailers to complete projects. Because of the terrible precedent it would set, the bill is opposed by a wide range of groups including the League of California Cities.
On the surface, Senate Bill 469 mandates projects 90,000 square feet and larger to conduct so-called “economic and community” impact reports that include a long list of complicated statutory “assessments” that must be made and submitted to the local agency. However, the practical impact of the bill will be to make it more expensive to develop such properties, and more difficult by providing lawsuit “hooks” to unions and other groups that oppose such development.
By allowing land-use planning to be used in a broader union fight, SB 469 is designed to hurt an employer, which in turn hurts employees and the economy, further damages state tax revenues, and has the unintended consequence of killing green-collar jobs by stopping the development of the most energy and water efficient, sustainable, retail stores in the nation and limiting access to fresh groceries in underserved communities.
Because the provision of the bill are selectively applied, SB 469 will also make people who are already concerned about the impact California’s environmental laws are having on the economy cynical about other legitimate land-use policies.
We will let you know what happens at the hearing.
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