Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. recently signed a California Chamber of Commerce-supported bill that improves environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The CalChamber supported AB 2782 (Friedman; D-Glendale) because it represents a prudent and balanced addition to the CEQA process to ensure that lead agencies are considering the multiple aspects of a project.
AB 2782 authorizes lead agencies to more comprehensively analyze the pros and cons of a project by considering specific economic, legal, social, technological, or other benefits of, and negative impacts of denying, the proposed project.
At a time when California’s housing crisis is, by one estimate, producing a $140 billion annual drag on the state’s economy, forcing Californians into long commutes that damage health, infrastructure and environment, and is one reason California suffers from the highest poverty rate of any state, California must pursue all thoughtful approaches to facilitating the timely construction of additional housing. AB 2782 is one such approach. By examining and considering the negative impact of not approving projects, especially housing projects, lead agencies will have a more comprehensive assessment of the role of these projects in their communities.
For example, if a local government is considering approval of a housing project, it is prudent for that local entity to evaluate the impact of denying that housing project as well: How would prohibiting construction of that housing project have an impact on factors such as local commute patterns, impacts to local businesses and the local economy, access to public transportation, the region’s compliance with the applicable Sustainable Communities Strategy, etc.?
AB 2782 does not change the underlying substantive or procedural requirements of CEQA. All this narrow bill does is encourage lead agencies to engage in a robust discussion of the pros and cons of projects under consideration.