09/21/2021

Editorial: CEQA for thee, but not for me

California’s overabundance of regulations has poisoned its business climate, suppressed economic and job growth and micromanaged its citizens’ personal lives. One of the biggest offenders is the California Environmental Quality Act, signed into law in 1970, which has killed, delayed or significantly increased the cost of many a development project.

Perhaps no major regulation better illustrates how laws implemented with high-minded justifications tend to not only be incredibly burdensome, but also be abused for reasons unrelated to their initial purposes and ignored when they become inconvenient for legislators or the powerful special interests who influence them.

The latest example of the Legislature’s capriciousness is a provision in the current budget deal that would streamline the CEQA process for a $1.3 billion project to renovate or replace the Capitol annex building. The provision, which echoes similar language used three years ago to provide an exemption for a new stadium project for the Sacramento Kings professional basketball team, would expedite judicial review of CEQA lawsuits and allow portions of the project not subject to specific challenges to proceed while other aspects of the project are being litigated.

“The Legislature is quick to support waiving CEQA when it comes to a stadium for an NFL or NBA team but silent when it comes to making the process work for the rest of us,” state Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Twain Harte, said in 2013 when the exemption for the Kings was being considered.

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