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Governor Newsom Announces Plans for CEQA Reform

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After years of frustration from Californians, Governor Gavin Newsom has announced his long-awaited CEQA reform. 

Newsom’s plan hopes to speed up California’s infrastructure, clean energy, and transportation projects. 

What is CEQA? 

CEQA stands for the California Environmental Quality Act, a landmark bill signed into law by then-Governor Ronald Reagan in 1970. 

The law requires an environmental study before construction projects to ensure there are no significant ecological risks. Despite its good intentions, CEQA has been used to delay and destroy many projects prior to development. 

This is due to the weaponization of the law and how residents all over the state have sued developments using CEQA. When this happens, planners have to conduct another extensive environmental study which takes time and a lot of money. Oftentimes this leaves projects dead in the water. 

This has stymied the development of housing projects, major developments, transportation projects, clean energy infrastructure, and more. 

What is Newsom’s Plan?

Last week, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-8-23, which will establish the Infrastructure Strike Team which will compose of leaders from several California agencies. 

The goal of the team will be to identify infrastructure projects that should receive state and federal funding and to streamline efforts to build them. 

Out of the executive order and a summary of related bills, Newsom’s CEQA plan will: 

  • Streamline environmental planning by incorporating agencies on local, state, and federal levels
  • Limit courts to nine months to decide on environmental challenges
  • Increase funding to agencies to speed up environmental reviews 
  • Decrease the number of documents that reviews require
  • Allow favored projects to skip select environmental reviews 

While housing is one of the areas most affected by CEQA challenges, it is not a major focus in Newsom’s Executive Order. Instead, the focus seems to be on major developments, clean energy infrastructure, and transportation. 

We’ll make sure to update you when Newsom’s full plan for CEQA reform is released. Until then, keep up with BOMA on the Frontline for the latest news in the Greater Los Angeles area. 

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