News and Articles

May 9, 2013

Efforts to Modernize CEQA Advance with Proposed Amendments to Senate Bill 731

Efforts to Modernize CEQA Advance with Proposed Amendments to Senate Bill 731

By Andrea A. Matarazzo

Senate President Pro Tem, Darrell Steinberg, recently proposed amendments to SB 731, keeping alive hope that efforts to reform CEQA will make some meaningful progress in the Legislature this year.  One important highlight is that the bill would strike existing CEQA provisions that give opponents the ability to delay certain projects over aesthetic impacts – typically a highly subjective and sometimes dubious environmental concern.  SB 731 also would give local jurisdictions more flexibility to address the realities of urban infill by revising guidelines for assessing noise and traffic impacts and streamlining litigation for projects meeting certain thresholds.  Other key provisions of the proposal include:


Create an “Advisor on Renewable Energy Facilities” – a new position in the Governor’s office intended to avoid unnecessary delays for large renewable energy projects


Revise the definition of “new information” under Public Resources Code section 21166 to avoid redundant CEQA compliance and unnecessary litigation


Authorize appropriations of $30,000,000 annually in competitive grants to local agencies from the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission to implement sustainable communities strategies


Require lead agencies to notify the public of the availability of its CEQA findings at least 15 days before a proposed project is approved


Require lead agencies to make an annual report on compliance with the measures adopted in a project’s Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Plan (“MMRP”)


Require the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research (“OPR”) and the Natural Resources Agency to revise the CEQA Guidelines to establish thresholds of significance for noise, transportation and parking impacts of residential, mixed-use residential, or employment center projects within transit priority areas


Require lead agencies to prepare a record of proceedings concurrently with the agency’s preparation of a negative declaration, mitigated negative declaration, or Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) under specified circumstances.


The full text of SB 731 is available at: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/.


Authored by: Senator Steinberg

Andrea A. Matarazzo

Andrea’s practice focuses on land use law and related environmental issues in California and the western United States.  She assists developers, business owners, and public agencies in all aspects of project permitting and entitlements, environmental compliance, and litigation, particularly in connection with environmental review under CEQA and NEPA.  Her practice includes planning and zoning law, endangered species regulations, air quality, water supply and water quality mandates, wetlands, and other regulatory requirements.

(916) 496-8500

(916) 737-5838 (Direct)



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