The Reason for CEQA 2.0

The California Quality Act (“CEQA”) was adopted in 1970, 50 years ago. Since that time there has been no comprehensive update of the statute. With immensely complex statewide problems, including critical affordable housing shortages, environmental justice challenges, climate change, wildfire, and drought, it is more important than ever that CEQA functions effectively and efficiently. CEQA 2.0 is a strategy to identify the problems that have arisen with the implementation of CEQA from the business, environmental advocates, and public and governmental agencies’ perspective and to propose amendments to CEQA that could resolve those problems without reducing the informational and environmental protection benefits of CEQA.

After decades of ongoing “hand to hand combat” in the legislature, including a seemingly endless stream of CEQA exemption amendments, it is time to take a careful and comprehensive look at the law, including its guidelines, and to make a patient and good faith attempt to find common ground among the many stakeholders in the State.

CEQA 2.0 Plan and Goals

In 2019, PCL assembled a technical working group of CEQA attorneys and planners to meet on a monthly basis to carefully examine how the law is and is not working and to come up with logical amendments. We gathered a highly respected and extremely qualified group of CEQA experts from across the state with diverse expertise and backgrounds. They all agreed to leave their advocacy “hats” at the door, as well as donate their time, and in good faith pursue the public interest which includes not only protecting the environment but also facilitating a healthy economy and helping government entities operate more efficiently in reviewing discretionary projects.

List of Groups represented in the CEQA 2.0 Technical Working Group:

  • Attorneys
  • Developers
  • Law Professors
  • Environmental Justice Advocates
  • Local Governments
  • Planners

The plan currently involves three Phases.

Phase 1. Form a technical working group that met throughout 2019 and brought in other experts as needed by inviting others to join the group. Form a stakeholder advisory group that overlapped with the technical working group to address the substance and implementation issues with all proposed amendments.

Phase 2. Conduct a multi-month process leading up to the introduction of the legislation. Include various working groups with broad representation and participation of geographical, issue-based, and industry representation working on updating CEQA based on identified priorities.

Phase 3. Use public relations, outreach, advocacy, and coalition-building to support the legislation as it passes through the legislative process.

We have developed a comprehensive policy framing document, which has been introduced in the 2020 Legislative Session as SB 55 by Senator Jackson. PCL will work to push this bill through the legislative process, enacting the bill on the 50th anniversary of CEQA.

Click here for a fact sheet on the CEQA 2.0 bill.

Click here for a summary of the proposed changes to CEQA.

Click here to read the bill language

CEQA 2.0 Priorities

In one of the CEQA 2.0 Technical Working Group meetings, the Group identified a list of priorities to address in the CEQA rewrite. Here is our list of top priorities we hope to address in the new version of CEQA:

  1. Greenhouse Gas Emission Mitigation
  2. CEQA Treatment of Hazard Site Occupants
  3. CEQA Impacts on Affordable Housing and Displacement
  4. Redefine Deadlines and Limits for Comments during Administrative Review
  5. The Contents of Administrative Records
  6. Clarify Exemptions for Infill
  7. Set Procedures for Settlements of CEQA Cases
  8. Address the Supreme Court Ruling in Tuolumne Jobs Case
  9. Modernize CEQA provisions
  10. Set Procedures for Translation of Documents
  11. Address CEQA’s treatment of areas affected by Wildfires and Natural Disasters
  12. Update Tiering Clarifications
  13. Outline guidelines for Judicial Officers that review CEQA Cases
  14. Define Remedies for when a Violation of CEQA Occurs
  15. Ensure Enforcement of Mitigation Measures
  16. Review and Eliminate/Revise Obsolete Sections of CEQA
  17. Ensure Appropriate baselines are used in Environmental Review
  18. Address Environmental Justice
  19. Address Timeliness of Agency Comments
  20. Address Effects of Developers Indemnifying Public Agencies
  21. Define Role of the Attorney General in CEQA Litigation
  22. Address CEQA’s Treatment of Historical and Cultural Resources
  23. Inverse Developer Issues with Agencies
  24. Ensure CEQA is bias-free
  25. Clarify Definition of Feasibility
  26. Define Consultant’s Role in CEQA Review
  27. Define the Role of Campaign Contributions in the CEQA Process
  28. Address Special Exemptions
  29. Define Tribal Resources/Tribal Consultation
  30. Address Control of Consulting Documents
  31. Address Cross-Referencing

How you can Get Involved

We have plenty of opportunities for individuals and groups to be involved in this effort and are interested in forming a broad coalition of committed people to move this update forward. If you would like to become a part of the CEQA 2.0 Stakeholders group and provide feedback on our CEQA 2.0 work, please send an email to and outline your experience with CEQA.

Sign on to support CEQA2.0!