CSAC Bulletin Article

Feedback Needed on California Environmental Quality Act Bills

The deadline for the Legislature to introduce new bills was last month, and both the Senate and the Assembly are currently in the process of referring substantive bill proposals to policy committees for their consideration. CSAC’s Housing, Land Use and Transportation team is reviewing several bills that would make changes to California Environmental Quality (CEQA) law.

CSAC is seeking feedback from counties on the following CEQA measures. We have typically supported CEQA exemptions and streamlining for infill projects in both cities and existing urbanized areas in counties, as well as exemptions for priority transportation projects. CSAC has also advocated for conditioning CEQA exemptions and streamlining processes on population densities that support infill in counties or other objective measures of urbanization, rather than arbitrary jurisdictional boundaries.

Please send your feedback to Marina Espinoza at mespinoza@counties.org. We will continue to keep counties on proposals that we expect could have an impact to counties.

AB 2214 (C. Garcia) – Acquisition of Property for New Schoolsites: Would require the governing board or body of a charter school or private school, before acquiring title to property for a new schoolsite or for an addition to a present schoolsite, to give notice in writing of the proposed acquisition to the planning commission. AB 2214 would also require the planning commission to investigate the proposed site and submit a written report to the governing board or body of the charter school or private school, as provided. The bill would make the provisions relating to school districts also applicable to charter schools and private schools.

AB 2485 (Choi) – Exemptions for Emergency Shelters and Supportive Housing: Would exempt from the requirements of CEQA emergency shelters and supportive housing, as defined.

AB 2719 (Fong) – Exemptions for Highway Safety Improvement Projects: Would exempt highway safety improvement projects undertaken by the Department of Transportation or a local agency from CEQA requirements.

SB 922 (Wiener) – Exemptions for Transportation-related Projects: Would remove the January 1, 2030 sunset date that exempts from CEQA requirements bicycle transportation plans for an urbanized area for restriping of streets and highways, bicycle parking and storage, signal timing to improve street and highway intersection operations, and related signage for bicycles, pedestrians, and vehicles under certain conditions. SB 922 would also remove the January 1, 2023 sunset date that exempts transit prioritization projects and projects for pedestrian and bicycle facilities or for the institution or increase of new bus rapid transit, bus, or light rail services on public or highway rights-of-way. The bill would also repeal the requirement that the exempted projects be located in an urbanized area and extend the exemption by revising the definition of transit prioritization projects, and would require projects for the institution or increase of new bus rapid transit, bus, or light rail service to be located on a site that is wholly within the boundaries of an urbanized area or urban cluster, as designated by the United States Census Bureau.

SB 1274 (McGuire) – Clean Energy Transmission Projects: Would additionally include, as a project eligible for certification under the Jobs and Economic Improvement Through Environmental Leadership Act of 2021, a clean energy transmission project that upgrades existing transmission infrastructure to bring renewable energy from an offshore wind project located within or adjacent to the County of Humboldt that meets specified requirements. SB 1274 would also require the quantification and mitigation of the impacts of a clean energy transmission project, as specified.

SB 1410 (Caballero) – Transportation Impacts: Would require the criteria for determining the significance of transportation impacts of projects within transit priority areas to only promote the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. SB 1410 would retain the metric for traffic levels of service for projects outside transit priority areas, and require the potential metrics described above to only apply to projects within transit priority areas.

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