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Let's Get it Right

Examining the Local Land Use Entitlement Process in California to Inform Policy and Process

A new comprehensive study, “Getting It Right,” is a stunning report by Berkeley Law and Columbia University researchers, which drives a stake in claims by Gov. Brown and legislators that the California Environmental Quality Act, CEQA, has worsened the housing crisis. The study is discussed in a recent article in Preserve LA.

CLICK HERE TO READ the entire article

It turns out that CEQA is NOT the problem. In fact, CEQA continues to do what it was intended to do:

"Doug Carstens, a CEQA and environmental law attorney, remarked, “The Berkeley study affirms what many knew: that CEQA, California’s premier environmental law, does not delay the construction of necessary housing that complies with legal requirements, and it allows people to participate in their local government’s review processes to provide a safeguard that serves as a backstop for overworked government staff.”

The authors go on to say that

Getting it Right” also refutes a thinly researched report by developer law firm Holland & Knight that attacks CEQA. The error-filled Holland & Knight report has been widely used by legislators and lobbyists trying to roll back environmental protections in California. The in-depth Berkeley study clears CEQA of growing accusations by people like Thornberg, developers, and their allies in the legislature."

This study, the most comprehensive to date, found that it is the incompetence and inefficiencies of local government and its agencies that are the primary obstacle to housing development -- Not CEQA. Not NIMBYs -- as developers and housing advocates like to blame.


Writer Ileana Wachtel goes on:

"Developers and business leaders in Los Angeles have repeatedly — and wrongly — claimed that CEQA lawsuits filed by citizens jam the courts and grind proposed developments to a halt.

"None of their accusations are proving out. CEQA in the 21st Century, a 2016 study by BAE Economics and the Rose Foundation, refutes its bashers. It showed that there were just 195 lawsuits statewide since 2002, unnoticeable in the vast court system. Nor are lawsuits growing. BAE found that the state’s premiere environmental law is working as intended to protect the environment and people.

"The media played a curious role in all this: According to Google, journalists have cited the inaccurate anti-CEQA Holland & Knight report 100+ times. But just 7 times have reporters cited the spot-on BAE study that affirms CEQA is working well and is not behind the long delays in housing production in California."