About Time! CA Supreme Court Tosses Abusive CEQA Lawsuit; Clears Way for Lafayette Housing
While the news was good, even if it took so long, for a 315-unit housing project in Lafayette (item above), a report by the University of California this week highlighted just how important securing deeper reforms to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is to addressing the state’s affordable housing crisis. The report took an overall look at the significant challenges UC faces in providing housing for students. Systemwide, UC currently houses over 113,000 students, or about 38 percent of its enrollment. And that number is much lower for certain campuses, with UC Berkeley housing just 21% of enrolled students.
Abusive CEQA lawsuits by NIMBY groups were cited as a major reason UC has been slow to create new housing, with CEQA litigation blamed for delaying seven student housing projects since 2018 that could serve 4,100 students. CEQA lawsuits, a favorite tool of housing opponents, have been used to block two UC Berkeley projects in recent years. And, in one unfortunate case, an appeals court recently sided with opponents and effectively defined students as pollution that need to be mitigated.
The Bay Area Council is working with legislators to craft CEQA reforms in response to that irresponsible ruling. The report also highlighted the financial strain the state’s affordable housing shortage is putting on taxpayers with massive subsidies needed to help lower-income students keep a roof over their heads. To support the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Vice President Louis Mirante.