Landmark legislation to protect natural resources is under attack.
CEQA, introduced in the 1970s, was designed to provide environmental protections and public participation as part of local land-use decisions.
Let’s face it: developers want to develop and not necessarily in an environmentally-friendly way. CEQA ensures that developers of significant projects document and mitigate the environmental impacts of their projects and provides an opportunity for the public to comment on the project’s impacts.
Last August, current California Senate majority leader, Michael Rubio, led an attempt to gut the bill, but failed. This year, with more time and a big ally in Governor Brown, he plans to try again. Some say Brown’s motivation is to ensure that CEQA doesn’t kill his legacy project: high-speed rail.
Here’s an example of CEQA at work: As originally planned, Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters, near the San Francisco Bay wetlands, was a hazard for birds. When Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society raised this issue during the CEQA process, Facebook implemented bird-safe window designs in their new campus.
Closer to home, is the case of Lehigh Southwest Permanente Cement Plant. According to Nancy Couperus, member of Los Altos Hills’ Open Space Committee: “Because of CEQA, Lehigh was required to an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for significant proposed changes in land use. As a result, citizens learned for the first time the total pollution arising from Lehigh’s operations. These findings were so significant that the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District filed a lawsuit against Lehigh and the County to hold the company accountable. We do not yet know the outcome, but the scrutiny will help ensure positive changes for the environment and human health.”
So what can you do?
Log onto CEQAworks.org to learn more. Write your state representatives asking them to support CEQA and environmental values in local land-use decisions:
Attend Assemblymember Rich Gordon’s February 21 Town Hall Meeting in Mountain View to get his perspective.
Learn more about Lehigh by reviewing the Draft EIR and comments.