State Court Lambastes CEQA Abuse

The Bay Area Council is hailing a recent decision by the First District of the California Court of Appeal that included withering criticism of how the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is abused by opponents of new housing. The court’s sharply worded opinion said CEQA has been “subverted into an instrument for the oppression and delay of social, economic, or recreational development and advancement.” The ruling effectively found that CEQA does not hold primary or exclusive dominion over local decision-making.

In a statement applauding the court’s comments, Council CEO Jim Wunderman said, “the court’s damning judgement makes clear what we’ve known for many, many years, that CEQA is badly broken, seriously outdated and vulnerable to massive abuse by bad actors. We need strong environmental protections, but that must be balanced against the competing needs of our state for housing and other critical infrastructure that too often is blocked and delayed for no real environmental purpose. The Bay Area Council has long advocated for preserving CEQA but bringing it into the 21st century and for fixing the flaws that allow and enable egregious abuse.”

Wunderman extended thanks to Bay Area Council member Holland & Knight and Holland & Knight Partner and Council Executive Committee member Jennifer Hernandez for bringing this necessary case and to the court for its strong and correct ruling.”

Holland & Knight issued a strong statement detailing the legal background of the case and past research by Hernandez that the court cited in its ruling. The case, which still could be appealed to the state Supreme Court, could have significant implications for other developments across the state. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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