Wednesday, June 5, 2013

CEQA abuse: Not In My State Anymore

Not In My Backyard obstructionists who exploit loopholes in CEQA law to stop environmentally-friendly development projects over very trivial environmental concerns through the courts may soon face this:
Not In My State Anymore.

Consider what is unfolding in Riverside County, where Friends of Riverside Hills, a small group of NIMBY's, successfully stopped the Metrolink Perris Valley Extension through a CEQA lawsuit, at least for the moment. The group used little more than throw-to-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks trivialities as genuine concerns in alleging that the project's environmental documents violated CEQA requirements. Here's a question for fair-minded individuals: Is the Perris Valley Line lawsuit really a case of a community fighting to protect its quality of life and the long term welfare of the environment, or just another frivolous CEQA lawsuit that unreasonably hampers progress?

As mentioned, the Riverside County Transportation Commission is turning to state lawmakers for help in moving the project forward. Fortunately, Senate Bill 731 provides more clarity on what constitutes a genuine CEQA violation, gives preference to projects that logically improve the environment and eliminates some of the more archaic and counter-intuitive elements. The State Senate unanimously approved the bill on May 30 and SB 731 now awaits review by the State Assembly. Environmental law and unanimous legislative agreement are certainly not normal in the state legislature, but since 100% of the State Senate agrees that CEQA abuse is a problem, it may soon be Not in My State Anymore for NIMBY's abusing the law.

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