Evaluating CEQA: The Controversial Law Turns 50

The California Environmental Quality Act, commonly referred to as CEQA for short, has been influencing planning and development in California for 50 years, creating a constant source of controversy and criticisms from both sides of the debate.

1 minute read

December 8, 2020, 10:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

California State Capital

cmshepard / Shutterstock

William Fulton writes to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the California Environmental Quality Act, one of the most influential and controversial laws in the history of U.S. planning. Fulton, who has been writing about the law for 40 years of the 50 years the law has been in existence, sums up CEQA's influence and troubles thusly:

CEQA is not technically a land-use law, but it has probably had as much impact on California land use as any statute on the books. It’s confounding in many ways – confoundingly complicated, confoundingly resistant to reform, and indeed confoundingly resistant to any rational assessment of whether it has “worked,” whatever “worked” means. Business leaders and developers blame it for every economic downturn in California whether CEQA deserves the rap or not, and environmentalists and labor unions cling to it as the only to extract what they want from developers.

Given the big round number hanging around CEQA's neck (the law was signed into law by then-Governor of California Ronald Reagan), Fulton to calculate CEQA's legacy in California.  

Sunday, December 6, 2020 in California Planning & Development Report

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