California’s perpetual battle over housing, pitting advocates of state-level pro-development insurance policies in opposition to defenders of native authorities land use authority, has usually concerned friction between two state legal guidelines.

One, the Housing Accountability Act, or HAA, goals to take away boundaries to development, whereas the older California Environmental High quality Act has been employed to delay or block particular initiatives.

One tactic utilized by native authorities to beat the accountability regulation’s pro-housing provisions has been indefinitely delaying choices on whether or not initiatives are eligible for CEQA clearance by demanding ever-more information from builders.

Final 12 months, the Legislature, which has been strengthening HAA provisions lately, cracked down on CEQA delays by passing Meeting Invoice 1633, carried by Assemblyman Phil Ting, a Democrat from San Francisco, the place the tactic has usually been employed. It decreed that extreme CEQA delays in high-density city initiatives violate state regulation and topic officers to lawsuits.

Whereas AB 1633 provides pro-housing advocates a brand new authorized weapon, its applicability to solely particular sorts of initiatives falls wanting a wider overhaul of CEQA that some political figures have supported.

As an illustration, former Gov. Jerry Brown as soon as described CEQA reform as “the Lord’s work,” however was unwilling to tackle the heavy political burden such modifications would require. If politicians are unwilling to tackle CEQA reform – which might draw opposition from environmental teams, and labor unions which invoke the regulation to demand agreements with builders – California’s courts might do the job.

This month, a state appellate courtroom delivered a ruling that, if not overturned by the state Supreme Court docket, would make it way more tough to make use of CEQA to cease initiatives that conform to native zoning legal guidelines.

The case concerned a company, Hilltop Group Inc., that needed to assemble a facility to recycle development particles on a website adjoining to Interstate 15 in northern San Diego County that had been designated for industrial makes use of within the county’s normal plan.

The county’s employees declared that the North County Environmental Assets Undertaking was entitled to a CEQA exemption as a result of it met the factors of the final plan, which had been licensed as suitable with CEQA. Nonetheless, when residents of the realm and the town of Escondido opposed the power, citing noise, site visitors and aesthetic impacts, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors declared that it wanted extra environmental mitigation beneath CEQA.

Hilltop sued and the county prevailed within the trial courtroom, however a three-judge panel on the 4th District Court docket of Attraction unanimously declared that the county couldn’t impose extra circumstances as a result of the mission was suitable with the commercial zone the county created in its normal plan.

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