Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CEQA and Infill: A Good Year in California

CEQA and Infill: A Good Year in California

Yes, the last-minute CEQA bills that Rick detailed were controversial. Yes, the bills carving out an expedited process for a sports stadium and $100 million projects, as Eric discussed, make many people question the process. But for those who care about climate change and infill, these bills will likely lead to better environmental outcomes than the traditional CEQA process would have produced.  And they certainly offer more for environmentalists than critics seem to acknowledge.

Sacramento is apparently excited about the start of the NFL season

Let's start with the most controversial bill, SB 292, which is the carve-out for the proposed AEG football stadium in downtown Los Angeles. In exchange for a fast-tracked environmental review, AEG, the stadium developer, will ensure that there will be zero net greenhouse gas emissions from spectators traveling to the stadium. In addition, AEG must ensure that that trip ratios (total annual private car trips to the stadium divided by annual spectators) must be 90% or less of the NFL stadium with the lowest trip ratio in the country. Mitigation measures to achieve this outcome could include developer funding for shuttle buses and improved public transportation, among other methods. Meanwhile, any carbon offsets purchased by AEG for the project must be from within the South Coast Air Basin. Overall, we can debate fai rness issues and process with this legislation, but to me these conditions appear to be remarkably stringent and could result in significant transit investments that would benefit all of downtown Los Angeles, a prime infill area for the region.  The key will be aggressive enforcement by the lead agency in Los Angeles.

Next up is AB 900, a bill that Eric criticized, which also fast-tracks CEQA review by placing legal challenges to environmental review within the Court of Appeals and providing a strict timeline for judicial action. Read more of this post

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