Sun, Jul

CA Environmental Quality Act: Urgent Reform Necessary? The Math Doesn’t Add Up


ENVIRONMENT - The YIMBYs and uber progressives claim that even more CEQA reform is necessary after the Berkeley People's Park decision because environmental review is an impediment to the creation of housing.  

But let's look at the City of Los Angeles as an example, the largest City in the state, to see if this logic holds up. 

In 2022, the City conducted just 21 Negative Declarations/Mitigated Negative Declarations

And the City conducted just one SCEA in 2022.  

And the CEQAnet database shows that the City started the preparation of just 7 EIRs in 2022.  

So, they did a total of 29 environmental reviews in 2022 for a City that has 3.9 million people and covers 502.7 square miles. 

There were more than 9,000 applications filed in 2022 according to Department of City Planning monthly reports.  

This means the City exempted over 99.67 percent of all development projects from CEQA. 

CEQA has already been destroyed by cities such as LA who wrongly conclude almost everything is exempt (claiming "regulatory compliance measures" address all impacts).  

Further CEQA reform is unnecessary. It's akin to shooting the statute in the head. 

Shouldn't data and facts matter?  

No reasonable person would conclude that more than 99 percent of projects are exempt from CEQA in a City the size of the City of Los Angeles. 

People are right to be angry that affordable housing is scarce. But CEQA review isn’t the cause or the boogeyman. Cities like Los Angeles have already gutted it. 

(Jamie T. Hall is a civil litigator and lead attorney in environmental, zoning and land use matters and represents clients across the country before zoning boards, city councils and public utility commissions. Jamie practices land use, municipal, utility, telecommunications and environmental law.)