Public Law Journal: Summer 2014, Vol. 37, No. 3
- Four Members Appointed to the Public Law Section Executive Committee
- Inclusionary Zoning for Affordable Housing Under Attack
- Legislation Update
- Litigation & Case Law Update
- Message from the Chair
- Sold Out Public Records & Open Meetings Conference Offers Survey of Existing Laws, Compliance Issues, and Current Developments.
- The Next Frontier: Transgender Legal Rights
- The Public Law Section Plans Dynamic Annual Meeting Programs
- Two Views: "Reverse Ceqa"
- When Government Cover-ups are a Good Thing: Preventing Exposure of Your Agency's Decisionmaking Via the Deliberative Process Privilege
- Willfully Ignorant: the California Building Industry Association's Attempt to Eliminate Ceqa's Long-Standing Role in Protecting Human Health and Public Safety
- Through the Looking Glass: Why Making "Reverse Ceqa" the Law in California Would Significantly Expand Ceqa's Scope While Undermining Its Purpose and Procedures
Through the Looking Glass: Why Making "Reverse CEQA" the Law in California Would Significantly Expand CEQA’s Scope While Undermining Its Purpose and Procedures
By Beth Collins-Burgard*
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s arguments are simple and alluring: humans are part of the environment; CEQA has always been intended to protect human health and safety as a part of the environment; and it is nonsensical to have CEQA analyze impacts from a proposed project to humans who already live in an area while ignoring impacts to the humans who will be added with the project. Who can argue with that? This is especially true when the District and its supporters point to potential dangers from siting housing or preschools near freeways, earthquake faults, or toxic waste dumps.
Most people would agree that our goal as a society should be to ensure that everyone has access to safe, affordable housing; good schools, libraries, parks, and other public services; and non-polluted, healthy living environments. The District argues that mandating Reverse CEQA will help secure that reality for more Californians. I disagree for three primary reasons:
- Mandating Reverse CEQA would significantly change CEQA’s current implementationâby vastly expanding the scope of the analysis required, changing the methodology for performing that analysis, and precluding many projects from using CEQA exemptions and mitigated negative declarations (MNDsâwithout achieving the significant environmental protections sought;
- Mandating Reverse CEQA would increase litigation risks, costs for applicants and public agencies, and delay for projects of all types; and
- Mandating Reverse CEQA is not necessary to protect the health and welfare of Californians.