Four little letters, so much headache.  CEQA, or the California Environmental Quality Act, has been on the Bay Area Council’s wish list for reform for two generations.  At a packed meeting of clean tech companies, developers, lawyers, consultants and others, Jim Wunderman opened the meeting waving a 1976 “Bay Area Council Plan to Reform CEQA.”  Wade Crowfoot and Christopher Calfee of Governor Brown’s Office of Planning & Research responded by waving Governor Brown’s 1978 plan to reform CEQA.

Hope for bringing meaningful change to California’s landmark law has waxed and waned over the decades, but Governor Brown’s campaign promise to reform CEQA has created new excitement.  Jennifer Hernandez of Holland and Knight, one the state’s top lawyers on the topic, said that movement for reform has reached a tipping point.  The Governor asked the Bay Area Council to assemble business leaders to begin working collaboratively on change.  We did so on Friday and heard from the Governor’s team on the issue.  They laid out initial plans to ease CEQA requirements for renewable energy and infill development and then took about an hour and a half of thoughtful – sometimes emotional – feedback.  They took pages of notes, listened quite actively and said they would work with the Council, who is forming a task force to work with the Governor on an ongoing basis.  If you are interested in hearing about the task force or want to join, please contact Matt Regan at mregan@bayareacouncil.org or 415-946-8710.

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