Critics of CEQA have protested that the environmental review the law requires for major projects often adds unnecessary costs, time and uncertainty, while unfairly empowering project opponents. As representatives of nonprofit organizations committed to responsible, sustainable infill growth in our cities and downtowns, we see the continuing value of CEQA for giving the public a voice in project analysis, requiring more careful decision making, and encouraging project developers to mitigate avoidable impacts where feasible.
But we also recognize that CEQA can unduly penalize urban-oriented projects over outlying, auto-centric projects when it comes to evaluating impacts on traffic — an analysis that too often provides project opponents with leverage to defeat projects or scale back their environmentally friendly elements. Currently, an infill project in downtown San Francisco, for example, might be subjected to protracted litigation and concessions to widen streets and accommodate even more traffic, despite its optimal location in a walkable, bikeable area with transit close by. Meanwhile, a new subdivision on open space or farmland that generates long-distance car trips, air pollution and crushing regional traffic can get a free pass, all because traffic in the immediate area isn’t affected.
This perverse result has to change, and the Brown administration is taking action…
As leading developers and advocates of infill projects throughout California, we recognize that this proposed reform will remove one of the most common roadblocks used to stop smart city-centered development, while requiring outlying projects to account for the regional traffic they cause… (more)
This plan was developed by lobbyists working for big developers, banks, and the pubic transportation industry, and the anti-car non-profits, and sold to the legislators as a method to “encourage” people to move into stack and pack housing in densely populated cites by penalizing people who don’t.
Nato Green explained how this works in a recent article: What on earth does an assemblyman do?