As climate change and wildfires become more pressing matters in California, scientists, lawyers, and decision makers must come together to decide how the policy will adapt to rapid environmental changes and scientific advancement. The Planning and Conservation League hopes to facilitate this discussion and promote forward-thinking at our annual event.

Each year, PCL addresses top environmental policy issues that face California. This year, PCL will look to the future, as panel topics will address the next steps for California’s water supply, climate change, land use, transportation, housing planning, and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). We will be inviting speakers from various backgrounds and perspectives to speak on their work in the environmental policy field in hopes of promoting discussion on how we can be more successful in adapting policy for the future.

With last year’s success, PCL will continue the Young Leaders Panel as a way to bring young advocates into the environmental policy conversation and provide those without a voice with a place to discuss their perspective on a more sustainable future and the work we can do to get there. Empowering the younger generations to continue the work ahead is critical to all of us.

You’re Invited!

Join the Planning and Conservation League on February 23, 2019, at McGeorge School of Law for the annual California Environmental Assembly.

What: Planning and Conservation League’s 2019 California Environmental Assembly

When: Saturday, February 23, 2019, registration and breakfast starts at 8:00 am

Where: McGeorge School of Law, Logistics

Who: Leading local and state elected officials, agency representatives, nonprofit and community leaders, attorneys, planners, and business representatives

Key Speakers

2019 Assembly Schedule

2019 Assembly Program

Download as a PDF

Confronting a Future at Risk

McGeorge School of Law
February 23, 2019

8:00 AM

9:00 AM

WELCOME – Main Hall
Howard Penn, Executive Director, Planning & Conservation League
Graham Brownstein, Board Chair, Planning & Conservation League
John Kirlin, Distinguished Professor of Public Policy, McGeorge School of Law

OPENING PLENARY SESSION (Main Hall): Looking Forward - City by City
The Mayor of San Jose, Sam Liccardo, will share his experience in leading San Jose to become a leader in sustainability. San Jose has implemented many environmental initiatives such as reducing urban sprawl and funding public transit programs. In his speech, Mayor Liccardo will share how local governments can become leaders of the green and sustainable movement.

Speaker - Mayor Sam Liccardo

9:45 AM

10:00 AM

Water Plan 2.0: The Big Drivers for California's Water Future

As Yogi Berra said, "The future ain’t what it used to be." You will hear the latest from leading experts on the three big issues that will drive California water management: Implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act is revealing the hard choices those water users are facing. Updating the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan will affect virtually all water users in the State. And climate change is already beginning to be factored in some water agencies' actions.

Moderator - Jonas Minton,Senior Water Policy Advisor, Planning and Conservation League

Felicia Marcus, Chair, State Water Resources Control Board
Dave Eggerton, Executive Director, Association of California Water Agencies

Redevelopment 2.0: Rebuilding a Good Idea

The dissolution of California Redevelopment Agencies in 2012 has left a void in affordable housing and community development resources. Despite successes in the creation of the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities cap-and-trade program, Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts and other funding mechanisms, has never been adequately filled, and there is renewed interest in reinstituting a new development program at the State. Redevelopment had great achievements, but it also had many problems that led to its demise. This discussion will focus on the potential solutions to those problems to promote the kinds of development we truly need in California, and the current approaches emerging from the legislature to do so.

Moderator - Autumn Bernstein, Land Use and Transportation Policy Consultant

John Shirey, Senior Adviser, Hermocillo - Azevedo Strategic Communications LLC
Lisa Engel, Chief Consultant, California State Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development
Cathy Creswell, Board President, Sacramento Housing Alliance
Jonathan Fearn, Senior Director of Development, Greystar

CEQA 2.0: Goals and Progress

The session will begin with a description of PCL’s statewide project known as "CEQA 2.0." The project is pursuing an expansive update to the California Environmental Quality Act to achieve greater clarity, efficiencies and predictability in application of the law. The working group consists of CEQA legal experts from around the state whose daily legal practices represent a wide range of stakeholders, including developer, lead agency, petitioner and environmental justice interests. The group is meeting on a monthly basis and has been examining a number of important and highly controversial topics dealing with the discretionary project approval process before lead agencies; litigation streamlining and early resolution; and select public policy issues of statewide importance, including GHG mitigation and the environment’s impact on a project (sometimes referred to as "Reverse CEQA"). Following the "CEQA 2.0" presentation, experts will lead a group discussion on 1) GHG mitigation, including carbon credits; and 2) the environment's impact on a project, with particular attention to wildfire and other natural disaster impacts.

Moderator - Kevin Johnson, Attorney, Kevin Johnson APLC

Clark Morrison, Partner, Cox Castle & Nicholson
Ellison Folk, Partner, Shute Mihaly & Weinberger LLP
Roger Lin, Clinical Supervising Attorney, Environmental Law Clinic UC Berkeley

11:15 AM

11:45 AM

LUNCH SESSION (Main Hall): Preserving California’s Environmental Values
Attorney General Becerra will speak on the most pressing question for California: how can we protect California’s environmental values in an unpredictable environment. The Attorney General’s office has taken actions to preserve California’s environmental policies such as protecting the Clean Power Plan and stopping California’s coast from being exposed to offshore drilling. Attorney General Becerra will share the lessons he has learned from his experience in serving the people of California, protecting its environment, and offer his predictions for the future.

Speaker - Attorney General Xavier Becerra

12:45 PM

Land Use and the Sustainability of California's Future Water Supplies

Experts expect more intense cycles of drought and flooding to be an ever-increasing occurrence in the future. It is critical that we capture and bank stormwater and floodwater during wet years to make it available during periods of drought. The cheapest, most readily available option is groundwater recharge and storage. This panel will provide an overview of the opportunities and the infrastructure and policy options.

Moderator - Judy Corbett, Board Member, Planning and Conservation League

Julia Lave Johnston, President, American Planning Association CA Chapter.
Graham Fogg, Professor, Department of Land, Air & Water Resources UC Davis
Thomas Esqueda, Associate Vice President, Fresno State University

How will New Technologies Affect Our Transportation and Land Use Planning? Incentivizing the Future We Want!

The future of transportation is at a crossroads and nobody knows where it’s going. Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), autonomous vehicles, and shared mobility technologies are changing everything. The question of whether these new technologies will reduce or increase the number of cars on the road will greatly depend on the policies we use to guide them. This conversation will focus not only on the future of transportation but also how improved Land Use policy will be essential to ensure the future of mobility will be employed in a way that meets our climate, environmental and equity goals.

Moderator - Kirin Kumar, Executive Director, Walk Sacramento

James Corless, Executive Director, Sacramento Area Council of Governments
Alberto Ayala, Executive Director, Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District
Calli Cenizal, Transportation Policy Manager, Lyft
George Minter, Regional Vice President, External Affairs and Environmental Strategy, SoCalGas

Prioritization of Topics for CEQA 2.0 Update

The afternoon session will be conducted in a workshop format and will focus on primary CEQA issues submitted by participants. Both a questionnaire and input from the morning session will drive the discussion on both procedural and policy issues relating to EIR scoping and preparation, public hearings through the project approval vote, and the litigation process. PCL’s goal is to coordinate as much broad input as possible to have “CEQA 2.0” legislation ready to go to by January 2020. Come join us and be part of an important statewide effort to make CEQA as effective as possible in helping elected representatives make informed decisions about many of California’s most pressing environmental challenges.

Moderator - Terry Watt, Planner, Committee for Green Foothills

Andrea Ruiz-Esquide, Attorney, City of San Francisco
Doug Carstens, Managing Partner, Chatten-Brown & Carstens
Rick Frank, Professor, UC Davis School of Law

2:00 PM

2:30 PM

CLOSING PLENARY SESSION (Main Hall): Looking Towards the Future
The final key session of the day will feature science fiction author, Dr. Kim Stanley Robinson speaking about the various possibilities for the future of the planet. Dr. Robinson is famous for his novels on terraforming Mars and will share his insights on how we can avoid a potential environmental disaster on Earth. He will be joined by CivicSpark fellows, youth participants from an AmeriCorps program, who will share their own big picture ideas on how to solve pressing environmental challenges for the future.

Speakers - Dr. Kim Stanley Robinson, Author
CivicSpark Fellows (Invited)

4:00 PM

Hosts & Partners

PCL/PCL Foundation


McGeorge School of Law



Youth Partner


Gold Sponsors

Sage Sweetwood
Phyllis Faber
SoCalGas logoSoCalGas
SDGE logoSan Diego Gas & Electric

Silver Sponsors

David Hirsch
Chatten-Brown Carstens, LLP
Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP
Los Angeles Department of Water & Power
East Bay Municipal Utility District

Bronze Sponsors

Corey Briggs/Briggs Law Corporation

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Wittwer Parkin LLP

National Wildlife Federation

Holland and Knight

Remy Moose Manley, LLP

Graham Brownstein

Mogavero Architects, Inc.

Lozeau Drury, LLP

Kevin Johnson APLC

Committee for Green Foothills


Emerging Sponsors

Law Offices of Stuart Flashman
M.R. Wolfe & Associates, PC

Contributing Sponsors

Andy Sawyer & Carol Bingham
The Silverstein Law Firm
Valley Land Alliance
California Wildlife Foundation/California Oaks
Margie Kay
Law Office of Roger B. Moore
Friends, Artists and Neighbors of Elkhorn Slough
Monica S. Hunter

Sponsorships Available

Download the sponsorship packet.