Report: CEQA Lawsuits Challenge Almost Half of All Housing Development in California

A new report details the reach of California’s controversial environmental regulation, and warns of more consequences to come.

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August 25, 2022, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

The Interstate 10 freeway cuts through residential neighborhoods in the city of Alhambra. Downtown Los Angeles is visible in the background,

Matt Gush / Shutterstock

The Center for Jobs & the Economy recently published a report [pdf] quantifying the effect of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) on development proposals around the state.

The report—authored by Jennifer Hernandez, a land use and environment law attorney at the Holland & Knight law firm—finds that CEQA lawsuits challenged almost half of all development projects in the state in 2020.

“In 2020 alone, there were 47,999 housing units targeted in CEQA lawsuits,” according to the center’s website. In addition to housing, the report finds a “explosion” of CEQA lawsuits challenging renewable energy development projects in 2020.

Among the key points of the report is concern that the 2022 Scoping Plan underway at the California Air Resources Board, required by the state’s landmark climate change law, AB 32, is only likely to encourage more anti-development lawsuits under CEQA.

“The CARB 2022 Scoping Plan, by implication and omission, invites more CEQA lawsuits against any type of housing that falls outside a limited number of housing types, all of which are infeasible, expensive, and frequently the target of CEQA lawsuits,” according to the website. “The CARB 2022 Scoping Plan ‘Natural and Working Lands’ chapter calls for the immediate cessation of new housing and other development on lands not previously developed–not even the buildout of existing cities and projects.”

Friday, August 19, 2022 in Center for Jobs & the Economy

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