This week, the Little Hoover Commission issued its long-awaited report suggesting targeted reforms to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  The Commission held several hearings on benefits and challenges posed by California’s landmark environmental disclosure and mitigation law, which included a presentation by RCRC Policy Advocate, John Kennedy, and General Counsel, Arthur Wylene (who was quoted in the Commission’s report concerning the complexity of CEQA and its evolution into a body of common law).  RCRC’s written comments to the Commission can be found here

The Commission suggests several targeted reforms to the law and urges the state to consider several other longer-term measures to improve and modify the law.  Its recommendations include: 

  • Strengthening judicial standing requirements to align the universe of entities that may bring a challenge with the similar National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 

  • Restricting “data dumps” and “late hits” by only requiring lead agencies to consider information submitted during the official public comment period. 

  • Establishing a broad and simple CEQA exemption for infill housing. 

  • Increasing judicial training on CEQA. 

  • Reaffirming that courts should defer to procedural and substantive requirements contained in statute and the CEQA guidelines. 

  • Establishing clearer parameters to determine thresholds of significance for analysis and mitigation of impacts. 

  • Considering creation of specialized CEQA courts. 

  • Considering translation requirements for CEQA documents. 

  • Considering requiring litigants bringing an action to post a bond. 

  • Reevaluating the ways in which Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) analysis is conducted, the scope of mitigation measures, and its applicability to all areas of the state. 

The Commission is well-respected for its deep dives into complicated policy matters.  Its recommendations are advisory only and require further action by the Legislature or Administration to change the law. 

For more information, contact RCRC Senior Policy Advocate John Kennedy.