CEQA Revisions on the Horizon           
January 2013
In This Issue
CEQA Reform
New Stormwater Requirements
Who is Douglas Herring & Associates?


Happy New Year! We're well into a winter that so far has included lots of early rain and snowfall, plenty of cold weather, and a ridiculous number of beautiful clear, sunny days. I hope you're finding a little time to stop and catch the snowflakes (as opposed to smelling the roses)!



In this issue of our periodic eAlerts-intended to help keep our clients and colleagues informed on the latest land use, planning, and CEQA developments-we feature a short article on CEQA reform and a news tidbit on new stormwater requirements for new development. As always, be sure to let us know if we can help move your project forward from concept to reality.    


Doug Herring, AICP

Archives:  Our previous eAlerts are now archived at:  DHA eAlerts Archive   
Photography by Doug Herring

Royal Gorge, Tahoe National Forest, CA

CEQA Reform       

Last Fall State Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg refused to take up legislation to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), proposed at the tail end of the legislative session by Senator Michael Rubio. Noting that CEQA "for all of its strengths and its faults, is far too important to rewrite in the last days of the session," Steinberg promised to revisit the issue this year.


That work has now begun. Steinberg has appointed Senator Rubio as Chair of the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality, where a new CEQA reform bill is likely to be drafted. Rubio has been consulting with business groups, soliciting proposals for streamlining CEQA and limiting frivolous legal challenges, which are widely acknowledged to be a significant abuse of the law.


Steinberg has now made the rest of his appointments to the Committee on Environmental Quality, appointing five senators with track records supporting pro-environment policies, setting up an interesting dynamic on the committee. The new appointees are: Mark Leno (San Francisco), Loni Hancock (Berkeley), Ellen Corbett (San Leandro), Hannah Beth Jackson (Santa Barbara), and Fran Pavley (Agoura Hills).


Steinberg spoke about upcoming revisions to CEQA last weekend at the Planning and Conservation League's annual symposium on the CEQA, noting that "CEQA is a great law" but the 43-year-old statute is due for updating and improvements. He indicated two areas where he will be looking for reforms. One would be the rules for environmental standards, perhaps separating compliance with State and federal regulations from the CEQA process. The other was streamlining the process for litigation, possibly creating special CEQA courts to expedite legal challenges. Creating a class of "green projects" that could bypass the trial courts and go straight to an appellate court, much as AB 900 did (see our November 2011 eAlert on this legislation), was another idea Steinberg mentioned.


Both environmental groups and business groups are busy developing their own ideas for revising CEQA. Although these two groups have markedly different agendas, one thing they seem to agree on is that CEQA is overdue for reform. My own hope is that CEQA can be modified to raise the bar for bringing a legal challenge, while preserving the original intent of protecting the environment of this beautiful state. We'd love to hear your own thoughts on the subject. 

Junfraujoch, Switzerland

New Stormwater Requirements               


Last month new stormwater treatment requirements went into effect, the latest in the ever-evolving Provision C.3 requirements. Provision C.3 was added in 2003 to the municipal stormwater permits issued by the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) in compliance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). We have previously written about Provision C.3 and other stormwater requirements in our January 2009, December 2009, and March 2010 eAlerts, where we also provided links to four stormwater white papers.


As of December 1, 2012, projects (including single-family homes) creating and/or replacing 2,500 square feet or more of impervious surface, but less than 10,000 square feet of impervious surface, must implement site design measures to reduce stormwater runoff. Possible measures include directing runoff from roofs or pavements to vegetated areas, incorporating permeable pavement, using cisterns or rain barrels, using planter boxes, or developing a landscaped bioretention facility.


Who Is Douglas Herring & Associates?

Douglas Herring & Associates (DHA) works with public agencies, developers, and other businesses in California to expertly obtain the environmental and planning approvals needed to move projects from the conceptual stage to physical, benefit-generating reality in an efficient and cost-effective manner.  Since 1997, DHA has helped dozens of California cities and counties and scores of other businesses and organizations save money while obtaining high-quality planning and legally defensible environmental analysis services necessary to get their projects expeditiously approved and built. Learn more on our website:  Douglas Herring & Associates.
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