“You may say I’m a dreamer.” – John Lennon, “Imagine”
“Son she said / Have I got a little story for you…”
Pearl Jam, “Alive”
CEQA, our state’s landmark environmental protection act, is a venerable law with an illustrious history now spanning over 45 years. But it’s also being abused every day, distorted for non-environmental ends not worthy of it – and our legislature refuses to sit up and take note. It’s as if Lady Justice had grown warts, been disrobed and had her scales smashed by vandals – yet those who could help, sit idly by and don’t seem to care.
CEQA reform has been a hot topic, on and off, over the years. Governor Brown has called it “the Lord’s work.” Calls for it wax and wane with the economy and perceived need to get development projects approved and built. While many CEQA practitioners, politicians, and members of the regulated community have acknowledged the need for reform, many others have denied it; some insist CEQA works “just fine” as it is, or even advocate further expansion of its reach. Proposals for meaningful legislative reform have been largely unsuccessful and have been criticized by opponents as proposals to “weaken” the state’s “signature” environmental law. It’s often said that the first step to recovery is acknowledging a problem exists. It’s difficult to build consensus for CEQA reform when there is not even consensus about the existence of CEQA abuses requiring reform.