A proposal to streamline the environmental review process for development was approved by a key committee Wednesday after its author, state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said he is unwilling to include more dramatic changes demanded by business groups.
The measure that would speed up approval of infill construction projects in heavily developed neighborhoods was approved 5-0 by the Assembly Local Government Committee despite opposition from a business coalition.
Steinberg complained that the group of businesses has demanded a long, changing list of amendments to the California Environmental Quality Act that goes too far to win the votes needed for approval.
“There isn’t the political desire to do that,” Steinberg said of the proposals by the CEQA Working Group, which includes the California Chamber of Commerce, Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.
“You want to move a mile, we will move a mile,” Steinberg told the Assembly Local Government Committee. “You want to move one hundred miles in ways that may not be good, that’s not going to happen with this bill.”
Steinberg’s SB 731 focuses on allowing infill construction projects in heavily developed neighborhoods to be approved more quickly by using environmental reviews done previously when regional plans are adopted by counties and cities.
The business group sent a letter of opposition saying the bill “would not advance true CEQA reform and, in fact, could make approval of worthy and responsible projects even more difficult.” Bill Dombrowski, head of the California Retailers Assn., told the committee, “We would like to see some further reforms.”
Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo) supported the bill but said the governor’s office has said the bill does not include all of the changes wanted by Gov. Jerry Brown. Steinberg said he is talking to the governor’s office and plan to incorporate “many” of the ideas sought by Brown.