Sierra Club opposes AB 2267 Wood) California Environmental Quality Act: Sonoma County Renewal Enterprise District

Thank You Sierra Club for your actions to stop using the excuse for the fire rebuild to weaken CEQA for the developers. Standing ovation….. 

The Honorable Bob Wieckowski


Senate Committee on Environmental Quality

Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: AB 2267 (Wood) California Environmental Quality Act: Sonoma County Renewal Enterprise District– OPPOSE

Dear Chair Wieckowski:

We oppose AB 2267, which creates a broad exemption for large portions of Santa Rosa from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). This includes exemptions for planning, limitations on the judicial system for cases, and exemptions beyond existing exemptions for Transit Priority Areas (TPA) and Sustainable Community Strategies (SCS). This bill removes critical public oversight from the development process, leaving people in the dark regarding potential threats to the environment and their health. This will lead to environmental impacts that go unmitigated, and unknown, requiring the general public, not the responsible parties left with costs.

There is a need for housing in California generally, and a specific need to rebuild post the tragic fires, however, CEQA review should not be further weakened for these purposes. Existing exemptions already cover rebuilding following disasters, and numerous exemptions exist to increase density, particularly in TPAs.

CEQA provides public disclosure of impacts of actions and mitigation of those impacts, promotes good governance and holds parties responsible for the impacts of their projects. It has not been shown to be a significant barrier to development or California’s economic success.

Existing Exemptions Already Provide for Sufficient Disaster-Relief and Increased Development

CEQA contains numerous exemptions for housing projects, including, but not limited to:

  1. PRC 21080(b)(3) Projects undertaken, carried out, or approved by a public agency to maintain, repair, restore, demolish, or replace property or facilities damaged or destroyed as a result of a disaster in a disaster-stricken area in which a state of emergency has been proclaimed by the Governor pursuant to Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 8550) of Division 1 of Title 2 of the Government Code. This would cover any housing damaged by the recent wildfires.
  2. PRC 21080(b)(1) Projects that can be approved ministerially, depending on local review policies.
    1. PRC 21155.1 Transit Priority Projects within Sustainable Communities Strategies.
    2. PRC 21155.4 Mixed-use development and housing projects within a TPA and consistent with a sustainable communities strategy and a specific plan for which an EIR has been certified.
    3. PRC 21155.11 Projects within designated Housing Sustainability Districts.
    4. PRC 21159.22 Housing for agricultural workers consistent with applicable plans that are not in sensitive areas.
    5. PRC 21159.23 Low-income housing up to 100 units consistent with applicable plans that are not in sensitive areas.
    6. PRC 21159.24 Urbanized infill housing up to 100 units with an up to 10% inclusionary requirement consistent with applicable plans that are not in sensitive areas.
    7. GOV 65457 Residential development consistent with specific plans.
    8. 14 CCR 15332 Infill projects of any kind within city limits that do not have impacts to air, water, noise, or traffic.

    Other measures to exempt portions of CEQA include:

    1. PRC 21081.2 Projects up to 100 units within one-half mile of a transit stop on an urbanized infill site consistent with transportation policies of applicable plans do not have to analyze traffic impacts.
    2. PRC 21094.5 Infill projects, consistent with an SCS, are limited to site specific impacts if their impacts were identified in a previous planning document.
    3. PRC 21099 Aesthetic and parking impacts of infill projects within a TPA are not considered significant impacts on the environment.
    4. PRC 21155.2 Transit priority projects included in an SCS may proceed with a sustainable communities environmental assessment, instead of an EIR or can proceed with an EIR limited to on-site alternatives.
    5. 14 CCR 15183 Limitation of analysis to impacts peculiar to the parcel or project where consistent with a previous EIR for zoning, a community plan, or general plan.