CEQA Reform: Trying Not to Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater


The CA Environmental Quality Act is generally recognized as the strongest state environmental law in the nation. Signed by then Gov. Reagan in 1970, CEQA initially applied only to public agencies. The CA Supreme Court later extended its reach to private development.

Under CEQA, agencies such as cities and counties must identify the environmental effects, if any, of most major project proposals. The agencies also determine whether a full-blown environmental impact report is required to offset the harm. Public review is mandatory.

A project must identify impacts and offer mitigation in such diverse categories as air quality, water, traffic, noise, wildlife, and aesthetics, among others. Developers can address the impacts in many ways, such as adding traffic lanes, providing open space, contributing to a sewer plant expansion, or downsizing the project.

Sacramento attorney Tina Thomas, a CEQA expert and author of “A Guide to the California Environmental Quality Act;” Bruce Reznik, Executive Director of the Planning and Conservation League; State Senator Michael Rubio; and State Senator Anthony Cannella comment on this episode of the Maddy Report.

Commentary provided by Judy Sly, Editor of the Opinions pages of the Modesto Bee; Sarah Hedgpeth-Harris, a Fresno land-use attorney; and Calvin Stead, a Bakersfield environmental attorney.