A change to the formula used under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) could have a large impact on development throughout the state. Currently, the CEQA process views projects as having a negative environmental impact if they slow traffic. The proposed changes would change the perspective from one focusing on stemming traffic to one with an eye towards decreasing the amount of cars on the road and the temporal length of transportation.
If the proposed changes become final, the slight difference in priorities may change the way developers treat the city and suburbs. Whereas previous attempts under the act expanded car lanes and synchronized streetlights in order to lessen traffic, new attempts would discourage suburban sprawl and instead incentivize options for alternative transport. Those who bike and use mass transit may benefit from the proposed regulatory process, and supporters of green development are supporting the changes with the belief that it will lower greenhouse emissions. Yet for drivers who already have long commutes, driving through the city could become more onerous.
How should the state of California regulate development under CEQA? Do you think your commute could be affected if the development process changes?
Ethan Elkind, Associate Director of the Climate Change and Business Program, with a joint appointment at UC Berkeley School of Law and UCLA School of Law. Author of the book, "Railtown: The Fight for the Los Angeles Metro Rail and the Future of the City" (University of California Press, 2014)
Richard Close, president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association