New California Law Alters CEQA in Favor of Student Housing

Following a heated legal battle over new student housing in Berkeley, Governor Newsom signed a new law removing ‘social noise’ as an environmental impact.

1 minute read

September 11, 2023, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

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A California state bill signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, Assembly Bill 1307, removes noise impact as a factor in environmental reviews for new student housing projects, prompted by the state’s housing crisis and the battle over proposed new housing in People’s Park between the University of California, Berkeley and local activists.

As Noah Goldberg explains in the Los Angeles Times, “The passage of the bill means that the noise generated by project occupants will not be considered a significant effect on the environment.” The law, which goes into effect immediately, “reestablishes over 50 years of CEQA precedent, and reaffirms that people are not pollution,” said the bill’s author, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, and comes at a time when over 400,000 students in the state’s university systems lack stable housing.

Nicole Gordon, a lawyer for UC, said letting the noise ruling stand “would make CEQA a dangerous and powerful tool for any neighbor that does not like the social habits and customs of potential new residents” and could be “applied to perpetuate prejudice and stereotypes.” The ruling was already referenced in a Los Angeles case earlier this year.

Opponents of the projects Make UC a Good Neighbor say they support new student housing, just not in People’s Park, which they call “a historic and much-needed open space.”

Friday, September 8, 2023 in Los Angeles Times

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