The Reason for CEQA 2.0

The California Quality Act (“CEQA”) was adopted in 1970, 48 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

PCL has 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 have gathered a highly respected and extremely qualified group of CEQA experts from across the state with diverse expertise and backgrounds. This initial group is not exclusive and others will be added based on needs and interest. They have 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

Our goal is to have a comprehensive policy framing document and updated bill language ready to go by the end of 2019 and pass a bill for the CEQA amendment in 2020, the 50th anniversary of CEQA.

The plan currently involves three Phases.

Phase 1. Form a technical working group that meets over the next year and brings in other experts as needed by inviting others to join the group. Form a stakeholder advisory group that will overlap 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. Will 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. All funding for this phase will be pre-arranged based on the funders’ expectations due to financial requirements of legislative advocacy.

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 ceqa2.0@pcl.org and outline your experience with CEQA.

Additionally, if you are interested in sponsoring this campaign or know someone that would be, please advise us on those funding opportunities. It will take significant resources to be successful in this update and help make California a better place for everyone.