Join the Planning and Conservation League for the annual California Environmental Assembly! This year, the Assembly will be held online as a series of webinars!
What: Planning and Conservation League’s 2022 California Environmental Assembly
When: February 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th 2022
Where: Online. More information will be available soon.
The title of the 2022 Assembly is The Climate Crisis is Here Now: How to Accelerate Our Actions to Meet the Crisis. PCL strongly believes that immediate action is needed on many environmental issues, most importantly the climate crisis. Thus, we are designing our panels this year to discuss both short and long-term solutions and ways members of the public can help enact them. The sessions will focus on the topics of water, land use, transportation, CEQA/environmental litigation, habitat connectivity, and wildfire. The 2022 PCL Assembly will have a total of eight sessions held each Thursday in February. There will be two sessions a day, one starting at 9 am and one starting at 10:45 am.
2022 Assembly Schedule
2022 Assembly Program
2022 CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL ASSEMBLY
The Climate Crisis is Here Now: How to Accelerate Our Actions to Meet the Crisis
February 3rd - 24th, 2022
February 3rd, 2022 9:00 - 10:30 AM
Session One: Updating California Water Laws in the Face of Droughts/Climate Change
California's current system of water laws is ill-equipped to respond to long term droughts/climate change. Already one million Californians do not have safe drinking water. California’s aquatic ecosystems are in crisis. The State’s water users are also confronting increasingly scarce and unpredictable water supplies.
Just over 18 months ago, the Planning and Conservation League assembled a group of eight top California water law and policy experts who pledged their time to help develop new recommendations, taking into account the unprecedented conditions facing 21st century California.
Hear their specific recommendations for addressing environmental justice, ecological justice, and effective governance.
February 3rd, 2022 10:45 AM - 12:15 PM
Session Two: Adapting to Climate Change with Innovative Land Use/Water Strategies
Climate change is making atmospheric rivers more common while increasing the likelihood of droughts, and significantly reducing the holding capacity of the snowpack – a result of rising temperatures. Capturing flood and storm waters for groundwater recharge and storage can be a realistic, least-cost strategy for meeting water storage needs and reducing flood risks.
New technologies and analyses developed by researchers at the University of California at Davis and Stanford University are beginning to be applied to identify specific sites where soil characteristics and hydrogeology allow water to percolate readily from the surface to the aquifer.
Infrastructure and land costs of developing and maintaining recharge sites can be shared among multiple government agencies and nonprofits to provide flood management, clean drinking water, habitat protection, and recreational opportunities. Further benefits can include reduced ground subsidence, protection from groundwater salt intrusion, improved groundwater quality, and expanded access to clean water for underserved communities.
Forward-thinking communities have demonstrated that they can achieve multi-benefits with a single groundwater recharge project, thus increasing the cost-effectiveness of infrastructure investments. Speakers will provide specific examples of identifying and preserving prime recharge locations, developing multi-benefit projects on these sites, and new legislation that funds these efforts.
February 10th, 2022 9:00 - 10:30 AM
Session Three: SB 743, 2 Years in to Implementation
SB 734, a law that mandated a new methodology for analyzing transportation impacts, was passed in 2013—and it has been fraught with debate ever since. The vehicle miles traveled-based methodology that was developed from that mandate has the potential to be one of the most effective policy levers we have now to change land use and transportation behavior in California. Yet, since these new regulations were finally implemented in 2020, jurisdictions across the state are still grappling with the execution of the law.
This panel will discuss emerging best practices for evaluating VMT impact and mitigation, challenges that persist, challenges unique to suburban and rural communities, and strategies to mitigate displacement pressures where we are seeing the effective direction of resources into existing communities.
February 10th, 2022 10:45 AM - 12:15 PM
Session Four: A New Planning Paradigm for California
The fires and drought are getting worse, housing prices are skyrocketing, both VMT and disparities between rich and poor are rising at alarming rates. Meeting our housing needs in a way that will achieve our climate mandates, preserve our land and water, and address social inequities will require a fundamental shift in the way we employ our land use and transportation investments, and we just aren’t getting there fast enough.
PCL is convening a cross-interest, cross-sector round table to explore the inadequacies of California’s planning laws and what new planning policies are needed to address the challenges that are upon us. This panel will discuss where and how our current planning laws are falling short, and conduct an interactive conversation about what new planning policy could look like in California.
February 17th, 2022 9:00 - 10:30 AM
Session Five: Rethinking Land Conservation by Integrating Habitat Connectivity
One of the leading causes for the loss of biodiversity is habitat fragmentation. As more transportation infrastructure is constructed, wildlife is forced to cross large highways in search of new territory which is often deadly for both animals and drivers. The present scenario illustrates the need to invest in more wildlife corridors and crossings to protect California’s wildlife.
This panel will share some interesting projects across California that focus on improving habitat connectivity and examine some of the challenges these projects have faced throughout their planning process. For many wildlife crossing projects, the lack of available road crossing data, few funding sources, large agency fees, and red tape can all delay the project or hinder its chances of being built. The panelists will be asked to discuss ways the current administration can help projects solve or circumvent these challenges in order to encourage the development of more habitat connectivity projects to protect our state’s unique wildlife.
February 17th, 2022 10:45 AM - 12:15 PM
Session Six: Essential but Often Avoided Planning Before and After a Wildfire
Recurring and major wildfires are now a predictable and inevitable part of California’s future. This panel will discuss how, in the new project planning and approval stage, we can better prepare to protect people, homes and wildlife and what can be done after a wildfire has impacted natural open spaces and communities.
Developing specific, safe evacuation routes with adequate ingress and egress capacities and ensuring they will be used safely during an emergency is an essential part of responsible planning in our increasingly warming world. Project siting and design with these needs in mind should be required, with joint responsibility going to both builders and local agencies. Moreover, local governments should ensure that all homes in high-risk fire areas are equipped with adequate defense features and resources and all residents have detailed emergency evacuation and “shelter in place” educations to protect themselves.
Additionally, we need better strategies for how to restore habitat and rebuild communities in a way that lessens the chances of a wildfire occurring in the area again. Panelists in this panel will discuss some of these potential strategies and how to ensure they are a part of every planning and approval process.
February 24th, 2022 9:00 - 10:30 AM
Session Seven: Sacramento, City Hall, Communities - Who’s in Charge?
The recent adoption of Senate Bills 8, 9 and 10 as on-going and new attempts to address the housing affordability crisis in California are part of a growing tension over state intervention in local housing policy.
Beginning in January, the California Attorney General will have expanded authority to pursue litigation against local governments that are perceived to violate new laws including those designed to speed up regulatory review; to require affordable housing deficient cities to approve specified zoning, design, and affordability standards; to prohibit policies (including those established by initiative) that reduce development density; and to make it easier to build services-oriented navigation centers for the homeless.
In early November, Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a new "Housing Strike Force" to enforce development and tenant rights. In contrast, local interest responses have included: 1) the commencement of signature gathering for a state constitutional amendment to give local land-use decisions precedence over conflicting state law, and 2) litigation initiated by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation challenging the constitutionality of SB 10 as it impacts initiative rights.
Senate Bill 8 is a follow-up to SB 330 adopted as the "Housing Crisis Act of 2019" to help increase residential density; protect existing housing inventory and expedite permit processing. Senate Bill 9, known as the "Duplex Act" allows property owners to split a single-family lot and build an additional dwelling unit. Both lots can have their own ADUs. SB 10 authorizes local governments to rezone parcels up to ten units of residential density for urban infill sites and parcels in transit-rich areas.
Our panelists will discuss state and local land-use powers and the future of local governance; the legality of these new Senate Bills; whether the legislation will actually reduce housing prices and materially help reduce the affordable housing crisis; expected and possible environmental impacts; and potential unintended consequences, including displacement of lower-income residents and other environmental justice impacts.
February 24th, 2022 10:45 AM- 12:15 PM
Session Eight: Getting to Carbon Neutral: What is the True Cost?
California has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality to limit rising global temperatures and the consequences of climate change. Achieving net zero emissions will require significant GHG reductions from California in the next twenty years and beyond.
This panel will first discuss the role of quantification methods in achieving carbon neutrality. Quantification issues present themselves in multiple arenas, especially verifying state and local governments’ assurances of successful GHG reductions (such as through Climate Action Plans), as well as evaluating the protocols of carbon offset programs.
The State has introduced several efforts to effectuate its climate goals, both via direct emissions reductions, such as electrification requirements, fuel efficiency standards, policy changes to reduce VMT, and the use of market-based mechanisms. The efficacy and environmental justice impacts of the Cap and Trade Program, and the recently approved Senate Bill 27 are particular topics of concern. Senate Bill 27 requires the state, by July 2023, to establish carbon dioxide removal targets and create a registry and application process to identify and list projects “in the state that drive climate action on the state’s natural and working lands” seeking funding from state agencies or private entities. Where should California’s efforts be focused, or improved, to reach its carbon neutrality goal, and where can these efforts also provide local co-benefits? Do any of these efforts hinder California’s climate goals?
Finally, where GHG emissions are not avoided, how can the state ensure actual and equitable mitigation? Much attention has turned to the use of carbon offsets, across the United States and even internationally, especially within the context of CEQA mitigation for Project-level GHG impacts. The California Court of Appeal recently established parameters on the use of such offsets in Golden Door Properties, LLC v. County of San Diego (2020) 50 Cal.App.5th 467, and continuing judicial scrutiny can be expected.
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