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 too expensive, causes too many unnecessarily delays in project approvals, and/or results in too many lawsuits, adversely impacting much‐needed real estate development projects.
As President of BAE, Janet led a comprehensive study of CEQA project review across California. Work included a literature review, as well as a full analysis of litigation rates based on CEQA Net filings adjusted per in‐depth analysis of urban and rural jurisdictions, compared to Attorney General data regarding petitions (lawsuits). To address other concerns regarding CEQA’s impact on sustainable development, economic growth, and affordable housing production, the Study compared benchmark metrics for California to all 50 states (49 of which do not have this landmark environmental review process).
A summary of findings indicates that litigation under CEQA is rare, and has not increased since 2002, a fact that rebuts assertions that the vast majority of projects in California are now subject to lawsuits. Furthermore, CEQA has been amended to institute streamlining procedures, and the evidence from San Francisco indicates that numerous approvals are exempt from CEQA, and that the number of EIRs prepared is small. Importantly, while critics claim that CEQA is constraining the California economy, key metrics show the strength of California's economy, rebutting that assertion. Finally, California also ranks high in sustainable development indicators, an outcome that almost certainly reflects CEQA's requirement that public agencies analyze environmental effects and mitigate them where feasible.
Report available for download here.