Capitol intrigue is gathering steam as long-time state capitol insiders are quietly looking forward to a fiery legislative debate later this year centered on the holy grail of policymaking—CEQA Reform.  Assemblymember Mo D’Eraté, head of the CEQA Reform Is Too Damn Hard! Caucus, is working with leading Democrats and the last elected Republican in the Assembly to fast track a major CEQA bill to the floor for a vote.

“It’s nice that the Regents got a quick legislative correction to the enrollment kerfuffle, but the average Californian is really upset that reform seems to exist for only the big players like the Regents, owners of pro-sports teams, kajillionaires, and Russian oligarchs.  Really, can’t we do any better than this?”  D’Eraté then opined on the effort’s potential for success, feeling confident that things will be different this time around.  “We think we have a real chance this year after the trade unions placed major advertisements in the [Los Angeles] Times, the [San Francisco] Chronicle and the [Sacramento] Bee stating, and I kid you not, ‘We are really sorry about the bad CEQA cases we filed just to leverage project labor agreements.  From now on, we promise to play nice!’  Personally, I think this is a game changer for 2022.”

D’Eraté went on to explain what inspired this newfound energy to tackle what former Governor Brown called “God’s work.”  “One night I had a dream where I was pushing this boulder up a hill.  I remember thinking how weird it was that I couldn’t see the top, but I just kept going.  I looked over my shoulder and there was God! He then looked straight at me and said, ‘Hey, do you mind switching with me and taking over CEQA Reform?  I’m pretty tired.’  Next thing I knew I was awake and just knew God had blessed me to take on this challenge!”

Terms of the legislation have not yet been released.  Rumor has it the legislation will include an exemption for projects less than 10 acres in size, a repeal of the fair argument standard for negative declarations, an exemption from further CEQA analysis where the State has published certain regulatory standards, and an alternate streamlined pathway for analyses based upon an OPR-approved methodology.

When he is not playing the guitar or mandolin, or frustrating himself to no end with learning the banjo, William W. Abbott is Of Counsel at Abbott & Kindermann, Inc.  Daniel S. Cucchi is Senior Associate at Abbott & Kindermann, Inc., when he is not finding excuses to go on vacation or brew craft beer.  For questions relating to this article or any other California land use, real estate, environmental and/or planning issues contact Abbott & Kindermann, Inc. at (916) 456-9595.

The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice by Abbott & Kindermann, Inc., or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because of the changing nature of this area of the law and the importance of individual facts, readers are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.