In Case You Missed It: Fresno Bee: "When it comes to California environmental review, legislation is better than lawsuits"

Friday, January 24, 2020

By Senator Andreas Borgeas
January 17, 2020

As a member of the California Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee and a former chair of the San Joaquin River Conservancy, I have a deep appreciation for California’s public lands and natural resources. …  I am honored to represent a district that encompasses many treasured public lands, including three national parks.

Originally passed in 1970 and signed by then Gov. Ronald Reagan, the California Environmental Quality Act was a legislative attempt to provide guardrails for new development projects in effort to protect the state’s natural resources.

Unfortunately, CEQA has morphed into a legal weapon for lawyers and activist groups to stall essential projects and infrastructure. …  If the Legislature wishes to tackle challenges such as income inequality and affordable housing, then CEQA abuse must end. …

Last year I introduced Senate Bill 659 that would authorize courts to award reasonable attorney’s fees to a prevailing party if the court found the petitioner used actions, tactics, or claims that were both made in bad faith and were frivolous or intended to cause unnecessary delay. In a nutshell, SB 659 aimed to dissuade non-meritorious CEQA litigation. …

… this bill passed both the Senate Environmental Quality and the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support, proving there is common ground on CEQA reform. Despite our efforts, the bill was re-routed from the Senate floor vote to the Senate Appropriations Committee, where it languished. …

Sacramento fails to acknowledge that a well-intentioned piece of legislation has been wielded by opportunists as a legal weapon.  …  California will continue to endure an affordable housing crisis until CEQA reform is achieved.

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Click here to read the full Op-ed as published in the Fresno Bee.