Dear PCL Supporter,
I’m writing to alert you to an extremely misleading ballot initiative effort that would have severe consequences for the environmental laws we’ve fought so hard to protect for the past 50 years. The initiative, called “Protect Our Neighborhood Voices,” would change California’s Constitution to give local governments the power to override any state laws that conflict with local laws regulating land use and development.
If this initiative qualifies for the ballot and ultimately passes, local officials’ land use decisions could prevail over state environmental laws and regulations – including the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the California Endangered Species Act, the California Clean Air Act, state laws governing oil and gas exploration, the Native American Historic Resource Protection Act, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, and the Williamson Act, amongst dozens of others. Local governments could also override fair housing rules, rent control, and other housing-related protections. Perhaps most disturbing, this initiative could be a major setback to California’s efforts to curb climate change.
You may have heard or read things saying that CEQA and other environmental laws would be protected in this initiative. But if you look at the plain language of the initiative, you’ll see that protection of these laws is not mentioned in the actual text changes proposed to the Constitution (Sections 2 – 4), despite this issue being brought to the author’s attention prior. The initiative simply states that it does not intend to undermine CEQA. But that statement cannot prevent the initiative, if passed, from giving local governments the ability to opt-out of CEQA. That decision would be left to the courts, with no guaranteed outcome. We believe the risk of losing California’s preeminent environmental law is not worth the initiative’s purported benefits.
We recognize many people are unhappy with the state’s approach to addressing the housing crisis. This proposed initiative is NOT the solution. It could undermine nearly all of California’s hard-won environmental laws, many that have been in place for decades and have served our state well.
So, we hope you or any organization you work with will not support or provide volunteers for this initiative. In addition, we hope you will educate members and supporters from other organizations about this alarming initiative. This measure represents one of the greatest threats to California’s environment that we have ever seen. We need to stand together to prevent the initiative from appearing on the ballot, and to defeat it if it does.