April 27, 2021
FROM: Sustainable TamAlmonte
TO: Honorable David Chiu, Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development, Legislative Office Building, 1020 N. Street, Room 156, Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: Oppose Assembly Bill 1486 (Carrillo) “California Environmental Quality Act: housing”
Dear Chair Chiu and Members of the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development,
We urge you to oppose Assembly Bill 1486 (Carrillo) “California Environmental Quality Act: housing”.
About Assembly Bill 1486:
AB-1401 Establishes alternative streamlined California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review procedures for housing elements and related projects undertaken by cities, including a temporary exemption for housing element and related general plan updates, as well as limited CEQA review for “housing element implementation projects,” such as rezoning.
Reasons to Oppose Assembly Bill 1486:
A. Weakening the California Environmental Quality Act is misguided.
A CEQA exemption for the adoption or revision of a housing element and amendments to other general plan elements removes the ability of local governments to be fully informed of the ordinance’s potential environmental consequences. Without that review, a local government would not be properly informed of adverse environmental impacts, including traffic impacts, air impacts, or compatible use issues. It is unacceptable for the public to live with the consequences of a housing element or general plan that would not be fully vetted and whose impacts were not mitigated and alternatives not considered.
The California Environmental Quality Act, which became law in 1970, is our state’s landmark environmental law. Its purpose is to foster transparency and integrity in public decision-making while ensuring land use decisions take the full impacts of development on our natural and human environments into account. It is one of the most powerful environmental protection laws in the nation.
CEQA gives the community a voice in land use decisions. It requires decision-makers to adopt alternatives or mitigation measures to reduce significant adverse environmental impacts. As such, it plays a critical role in preserving and enhancing California’s public health, safety, and the environment.
The Act was designed to ensure that a project applicant—not the public—bears the costs of providing the necessary infrastructure to support a project. It also provides the public and decision-makers with “the big picture” and helps ensure that many small projects are not considered separately, only to overwhelm a community when taken as a whole.
CEQA protections should be strengthened rather than further weakened.
B. Streamlining CEQA is unwise and unnecessary for jurisdictions to meet the Housing Element Update deadline.
One of the author’s justifications for AB-1486 and streamlining the CEQA process is to help jurisdictions meet the Sixth Housing Element Update deadline. This is reckless and unnecessary and places jurisdictions at risk of experiencing significant adverse environmental impacts. Rather than a CEQA exemption, it would be much wiser to extend the Housing Element deadline.
Once again, we urge you to oppose Assembly Bill 1486.
Thank you in advance for your conscientious consideration.
Very truly yours,
Sharon Rushton, President