A Timeline of CEQA-Circumventing Court Rulings

The California Environmental Quality Act is generally considered a major obstacle for development. In a few cases, however, the law's definitions have been used to clear the way for development in environmentally sensitive areas.
April 27, 2017, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Rae Allen

Kevin Stark shares a timeline of precedent setting decisions regarding development under the California Environmental Quality Act.

The premise for the article: developers are using a case from 1995 to "push back on the ability of Bay Area cities to regulate waterfront development and protect residents from rising sea levels, a product of human-caused climate change."

The 1995 ruling pitted the development of a drug rehab facility in Contra Costa County against neighbors who opposed the project. "The company made what was then an obscure argument," writes Stark: "The California Environmental Quality Act, known as CEQA, the state’s premiere environmental law, did not require developers to consider how the environment might influence its project, only how the project would affect the environment."

Stark then combs through land use cases from 2009 and onward, created by disagreements about the reach of regulations designed to account for sea level rise and extreme weather, which sided with developers according to the precedent set by the 1995 ruling.

It's worth noting that the same logic could potentially be applied to homes built in wildfire danger areas—which is also a land use designation likely to take on more risk as the effects of climate change become more of a reality.

Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 in San Francisco Public Press
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