In the waning days of the session, three bills dealing with CEQA were written/re-written and passed onto the Governor. Although business groups have been pushing for a wide-variety of reforms to CEQA throughout the previous eight months of session, none of these measures represented any of those reforms, though some concepts contained in some of the bills are seen as very small, but positive steps in the right direction.
SB 226 allows benefits to certain urban infill projects deemed “green.” SB 292 applies specifically to the Los Angeles Downtown stadium project, providing expedited judicial review. And AB 900 purports to be a streamlining bill that will provide similar benefits to any project that meet certain criteria.
Since all of these bills pertain to complicated subject matter hastily written at the end of session, we are still reviewing them and have yet to urge the governor to sign or veto them.
Our industry has been begging for CEQA reform for years, however there is concern that these bills provide benefits to a very limited number of projects and could actually stall real change with thin veneer of reform. There are also concerns that the criteria under AB 900 are so convoluted that very few, if any, projects would ever see any benefit. Finally, the latter bill also applies Prevailing Wage to privately funded projects, and codified LEED certification as ways to get the benefit. These are both very troubling policy issues that need to be carefully reviewed.
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