Listen Live
Listen Live

On Air Now

Sunday Gospel Music
Sunday Gospel Music

On Air Next

Brushwood Media Network
Brushwood Media Network

California state commission unveils major CEQA update proposal to expand housing

SHARE NOW

(The Center Square) – Amid a 4.5 million home housing shortage, California’s Little Hoover Commission, a non-partisan, state-funded body, unveiled major changes to the state’s landmark California Environmental Quality Act designed to improve housing construction times and costs. LHC found CEQA is heavily used for “non-environmental goals” and recommended, among other acts, exempting infill housing from CEQA review and requiring greater standing to indefinitely challenge new construction, as currently nearly anyone in the country can.

“Notably, the commission recommends requiring that groups filing CEQA lawsuits be able to show that their lawsuits are specifically related to environmental harms rather than economic ones. In addition, they recommended applying a blanket exemption to all infill housing without any additional conditions or qualifications,” said Joseph Cohen May, a California land use expert. “If enacted, these two policies would end the use of CEQA as an extortion tool by labor and NIMBY groups against housing development.

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency that submits its conclusions to the governor and legislature for consideration, which often results in adopted legislation. However, May says it appears there’s little chance LHC’s proposals would pass the legislature.

“I am doubtful that there is any chance these reforms will pass, as they run counter to the desires of some of the most powerful interest groups in the state,” May continued.

The LHC’s report details unintended abuses of CEQA: “It is an expensive and lengthy process that can add years to project timeframes. It can be used for purposes that have little relationship to environmental protection. Its strong bias toward the status quo means that it can be used to block projects that would help improve the environment.”

According to an analysis from the San Francisco Chronicle, it typically takes 626 days from a home builder to receive a construction permit in the city. Because interest costs are some of the largest costs developers pay — developers put up some money but borrow most of what they spend — these construction permitting delays from CEQA, or the threat thereof, significantly hampers housing construction in California by extending project completion times and thus development costs.