For critics of the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, this case is a poster child for the need for reform. Signed by Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1970 and often referred to as “see-kwuh,” the law calls for “preventing environmental damage, while providing a decent home and satisfying living environment for every Californian.”
Environmentalists say CEQA does just that, supplying some of the strongest protection and transparency in the nation.
“CEQA is the fundamental law in California for environmental protection that also protects the right of the public to be informed about projects that are going into our neighborhood,” said David Pettit, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
But critics, particularly developers, say court decisions and opportunists have broadened and weaponized the law so it actively impedes housing, particularly in urban areas.
“This is not about the environment,” said Jennifer Hernandez, an attorney at Holland & Knight and one of the state’s most vocal advocates for change to the law. “This signature environmental law is being hijacked to advance economic interests.