CEQA in the 21st Century
CEQA compliance creates a process for the public, environmental regulatory agencies, and other stakeholders to ensure accurate environmental impact analysis, consideration of project alternatives, and adoption of feasible mitigation measures for a project’s significant impacts. Despite CEQA’s benefits, environmental impact review is consistently raised by some developers and policy analysts as an obstacle causing unnecessary delays in project approvals, and/or results in too many lawsuits, adversely impacting much‐needed housing and other development projects.
As President of BAE, Janet led a comprehensive study of CEQA project review across California entitled CEQA in the 21st Century. That report is available for download here.
In 2023, an updated report was prepared by Janet Smith-Heimer as The Housing Workshop. The updated report includes review of litigation rates (finding again that less than 2% of projects requiring environmental review documents are litigated annually). The updated report also explores several CEQA and housing issues, finding that the equivalent of less than 10% of housing units permitted in 2019 throughout all of California were affected by litigation in that year. Moreover, just 121 projects containing housing units were litigated under CEQA for the 3 year period covering 2019-2021 (or just 40 projects per year, despite the drumbeat of press headlines implying so many more). CEQA has been instrumental in fighting climate change and mitigating impacts on vulnerable neighborhoods suffering environmental and economic injustice. Recent streamlining laws such as SB35 have also helped to accelerate much-needed affordable housing production.
The 2023 report, entitled CEQA by the Numbers: Myths & Facts, can be downloaded here.