On April 3, Senator Roger Niello (R-Fair Oaks) presented Senate Bill 1259 in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. This measure proposes several changes to expedite CEQA litigation review, improve transparency, and ensure that CEQA is not misused for non-environmental purposes.   

RCRC testified with California YIMBY as one of two primary witnesses in support of the measure.  SB 1259 seeks to preserve CEQA’s important information disclosure and environmental mitigation requirements while making key improvements to protect against entities misusing the law for anti-competitive, obstructionist, or pecuniary interests.  

In particular, SB 1259 seeks to: 1) Expedite litigation review for major commercial, housing, and public works projects that address longstanding critical needs; 2) Ensure that courts only stop construction or operation of a project as a last resort when there are unforeseen and imminent threats to public health and safety or sensitive resources; 3) Require judicial approval of CEQA settlements and prohibit inclusion of non-environmental provisions in those settlements; and 4) Require disclosure of persons or entities who made monetary contributions of $10,000 or more to the lawsuit.   

While the bill ultimately failed passage in Committee, it spurred thoughtful and collaborative conversations from members on both sides of the aisle about the ways in which CEQA has evolved over the years and how it is exploited to kill projects, stifle competition, or extract concessions from project proponents. 

RCRC’s letter in support of SB 1259 and testimony to the Little Hoover Commission can be found here

For more information, contact RCRC Senior Policy Advocate John Kennedy