Press Releases

In Case You Missed It: San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Urges Legislature to Pass Comprehensive CEQA Reform that Benefits All Worthy Projects Statewide, 9/5/13

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September 5  |  News, Press Releases  |   afrew

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 5, 2013

CONTACT: Kathy Fairbanks, 916-443-0872, kfairbanks@bcfpublicaffairs.com

SACRAMENTO – In an editorial today, the San Francisco Chronicle calls on the legislature to pass meaningful CEQA reform that levels the playing field for all projects. Under current law, CEQA is frequently exploited by special interests to delay and kill worthy projects throughout the state, and comprehensive reform is needed to curb these misuses of the law.

The Chronicle is one of many newspapers throughout California that have editorialized in favor of meaningful CEQA reform this year.

San Francisco Chronicle, Editorial , September 5, 2013

  • “…there are plenty of worthy projects around the state that are threatened by litigation under a law that is being exploited by individuals and special interests with motives that have nothing to do with the environment.”
  • “If the playing field is uneven, let’s level it for all.”

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In Case You Missed It: Sacramento Bee, Los Angeles Newspaper Group and Riverside Press-Enterprise Call on Legislature to Apply CEQA Reforms Statewide, not just for Sacramento Arena, 9/4/13

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September 4  |  News, Press Releases  |   afrew

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 9, 2013

CONTACT: Kathy Fairbanks, 916-443-0872, kfairbanks@bcfpublicaffairs.com

SACRAMENTO – In recent editorials, the Sacramento Bee, Riverside Press-Enterprise and the Los Angeles Newspaper Group: Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, Whittier Daily News, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Bernardino Sun, and Inland Valley Daily Bulletin strongly urged the legislature to pass comprehensive and meaningful CEQA reforms that benefit worthy projects across the state. These newspapers called on Senator Steinberg and all legislators to advance CEQA reforms that benefit projects statewide, not just changes for one project.

These editorials are only a few of many newspapers throughout California that have editorialized in favor of meaningful CEQA reform this year.

Sacramento Bee, Editorial, September 3, 2013, “Fix CEQA, end carve-outs for special projects.”

  • “Too often CEQA is exploited to stop good projects. Opponents who care nothing about the environment use the threat of CEQA lawsuits to leverage better labor deals or thwart a competitor.”
  • “If Steinberg’s end run around CEQA is good for Sacramento – and it may well be – it should be good for the entire state.”
  • “Why not make a more permanent fix to CEQA – so we don’t have to keep debating this laudable but easily abused law, year after year?”

Los Angeles News Group, Editorial, September 3, 2013, “Clock is running out for real CEQA reform

  • “Further delay in updating the landmark environmental law would be bad news up and down the state, where projects no less important than a basketball arena have been tripped up by abuses of CEQA.”
  • “The right bill would simplify CEQA’s provisions, remove duplications of environmental laws, restrict last-minute legal challenges and improve transparency.”
    • “Californians should accept nothing less than a serious effort by lawmakers to get meaningful reform done now, not put it off for yet another year.”

Riverside Press Enterprise, Editorial, September 3, 2013, “Arena exemption, no; streamline CEQA, yes.”

  • “The Legislature should streamline and clarify the state’s overly complex, often ambiguous environmental law. And the reforms should benefit the entire state, not just offer aid to projects with political pull.”
  • “The state needs a law that protects the environment without bogging planning decisions in bureaucratic tangles and legal wrangling. A state worried about high unemployment and a fragile economy should not abide arbitrary roadblocks to economic growth.”

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New Economic Analysis: Abusive CEQA Litigation Threatens Thousands of Prevailing Wage, Union Jobs Every Year, 9/3/13

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September 3  |  News, Press Releases  |   afrew

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 3, 2013

CONTACT: Kathy Fairbanks, 916-443-0872, kfairbanks@bcfpublicaffairs.com

SACRAMENTO – A newly-released economic analysis by John Husing, Ph.D., principal of the economic consulting firm Economics & Politics, Inc. in Redlands, CA, found that thousands of prevailing wage union jobs are put at risk every year by meritless CEQA litigation. Husing evaluated a cross-section of recent CEQA litigation and the delays and increased costs caused by the litigation.

“Very often the discussion about CEQA abuse is centered around impacts to businesses, but more important is the direct impact these abuses have on job creation and employees,” said Husing. “Our analysis found that, by and large, for otherwise environmentally sound projects, prevailing wage union construction jobs are those most heavily impacted by CEQA litigation.”

The Economics & Politics study analyzed seven projects from all over the state. They were chosen because they are typical of the types of projects being impacted by CEQA litigation.  Projects analyzed ranged from major commuter rail efforts to massive affordable housing/transit oriented developments to smaller community projects. 

For just these seven projects, the study found that on an annual basis:

  • 3,245 prevailing wage jobs were delayed or eliminated due to CEQA litigation,
  • $326.1 million in annual wages and benefits for union workers were put at risk.

“These numbers are significant,” continued Husing. “This analysis represents only a small fraction of the projects delayed every year by CEQA litigation.  There are literally hundreds of CEQA lawsuits filed each and every year. It can be concluded then, that thousands of prevailing wage union jobs are lost or delayed by CEQA every year, as well as billions in lost wages and benefits for union workers.”

Ironically, the loudest voices fighting even moderate CEQA reforms are the very same construction trades unions whose members are being hurt most by CEQA abuses through lost or delayed jobs and lost or delayed wages and benefits. Read the full study here.

About Economic & Politics, Inc.

Dr. John Husing is a regional economist trained at Claremont Graduate University who has studied California’s economy for 49 years.  Of late, the focus of his work has been on the clash between regulatory policy in California that is shutting off the growth of jobs in fields like construction, manufacturing and logistics needed by marginally educated workers to access the middle class.  He sees this as contributing to the dramatic increase in the number and share of the state’s people living in poverty with all of the public health and social implications that this entails.  There is a social justice component to this difficulty in that the problem is falling disproportionately on the state’s Hispanic population.

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In Case You Missed It: San Jose Mercury News editorial: SB 731 (CEQA reform) needs to be turned into “something worthwhile.”U-T San Diego editorial calls on legislature to enact stronger CEQA reform to help stimulate jobs, 8/20/13

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August 20  |  News, Press Releases  |   afrew

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 20, 2013

CONTACT: Kathy Fairbanks, 916-443-0872, kfairbanks@bcfpublicaffairs.com

SACRAMENTO – In an editorial today, the San Jose Mercury News called on Senator Steinberg to turn CEQA reform bill SB 731 into something “worthwhile” and to bring all parties to the table during the negotiation process. The U-T San Diego also called on the legislature to enact reforms that would help stimulate the economy and spur job growth in California, such as reforms to CEQA. Excerpts from the editorials are below. Read the San Jose Mercury News editorial here and the U-T San Diego editorial here.  The Mercury News and the U-T are just two of many newspapers throughout California that have editorialized in favor of meaningful CEQA reform this year.

San Jose Mercury News, Editorial, August 20, 2013, “CEQA reform bill doesn’t go far enough.”

  • “Steinberg sponsored a measure, Senate Bill 731, that passed the Senate, but it falls far short. Unless it is substantially improved, the Assembly and Gov. Jerry Brown should reject it.”
  • “…the law today is often used by NIMBYs to oppose development they don’t like, by businesses to prevent competition and by labor to pressure builders to use union workers.”
  • “Encouraging infill is a priority of Steinberg’s and of ours, but that’s too narrow a focus. Other projects that help the environment should also be protected from trumped-up objections, including wind and solar farms in undeveloped areas. These projects are essential for the state to meet its aggressive greenhouse-gas reduction requirements.”
  • “SB 731 won’t even do much of what he says he wants to accomplish.”
  • “In the three weeks left in this legislative session, Steinberg needs to turn the bill into something worthwhile, even if it’s not as comprehensive as necessary. And everybody needs to be at the table.”

U-T San Diego, Editorial, August 18, 2013, “Fixing California: State’s unemployed face heartless indifference in Sacramento.”

  • “…excessive state regulations hinder job creation and block economic growth.”
  • “For more than two years, Senate President Darrell Steinberg has declared his firm support for ‘major regulatory relief.’”
  • “Steinberg has won Senate passage of a narrow bill that alters the California Environmental Quality Act to shorten the review process for projects in highly developed neighborhoods. But its prospects are dim in the Assembly, and a recent report said Pérez was ‘not optimistic there will be any significant changes to CEQA this year.’”
  • “A well-placed Pérez loyalist says the speaker is disappointed in the modesty of Steinberg’s proposals.

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In Case You Missed It: San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Calls on Legislature to Pass Meaningful CEQA Reform this Year, 8/19/13

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August 19  |  News, Press Releases  |   afrew

Says SB 731 (Senator Steinberg’s CEQA reform bill) “falls measurably short”.  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 19, 2013

CONTACT: Kathy Fairbanks, 916-443-0872, kfairbanks@bcfpublicaffairs.com

SACRAMENTO – In a Saturday editorial, the San Francisco Chronicle reiterated their support for thoughtful reforms of CEQA that balance both economic and environmental goals. The Chronicle urged Senate Pro Tem Steinberg to bring all parties to the table during this negotiation process to ensure his SB 731 is amended to ensure true CEQA reform is achieved. Excerpts from the editorial are below. The full editorial can be read here.  The Chronicle is one of many newspapers throughout California that have editorialized in favor of meaningful CEQA reform this year.

San Francisco Chronicle, Editorial, August 17, 2013, “CEQA Reform Bill Falls Short”

  • “The version of Steinberg’s SB731 that advanced out of the Assembly Local Government Committee last week falls measurably short of what should be the ultimate goal of any CEQA reform: to reduce the duplication of project reviews and to stop the exploitation of an environmental law to achieve objectives (such as unions using lawsuit threats to coerce labor agreements) that have nothing to do with the environment.”
  • “But the latest version of SB731 misses the mark in three important ways.”
  • “It fails to require forthright disclosure of the real interests behind CEQA lawsuits…”
  • “The focus on infill development, while worthy, does not cover other types of environmentally friendly projects that have been subject to CEQA abuse…”
  • “The bill includes requirements that could lead to new avenues for CEQA litigation, such as a requirement that government agencies prepare an annual report on a project’s compliance with mitigation measures…”
  • “Steinberg is a leader, and one of the Capitol’s premier problem solvers, and he should get everyone back at the table – including the business groups, which have been feeling shut out – to find the elusive middle ground that can serve the economic and environmental objectives that are being undermined by CEQA abuses.”

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Local Government, Business, Schools, Affordable Housing Leaders Urge Amendments to SB 731 – Senator Steinberg’s CEQA Reform Legislation

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July 30  |  News, Press Releases  |   afrew

More than 50 Statewide and Local Organizations Send Letter Urging Lawmakers to Amend Current Draft of CEQA Reform Legislation to Achieve True and Meaningful Reform this Year. State Current Draft of SB 731 Not Viable and Could Make Matters Worse.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 30, 2013

CONTACT: Kathy Fairbanks, 916-443-0872, kfairbanks@bcfpublicaffairs.com

Sacramento, CA – A broad coalition of more than 50 statewide and local organizations representing local government, business, schools, affordable housing, transportation and other leaders recently sent a letter to legislators stating that significant amendments are needed to Senate Bill 731, Senator Steinberg’s CEQA reform legislation, in order to achieve meaningful CEQA reform this year.

In the letter to Senator Steinberg, the group says: “We want to thank you for your continued leadership in advancing the cause of CEQA reform and for your introduction of Senate Bill 731. As we enter into the final months of the legislative session, we believe it is critical to significantly amend SB 731 to achieve meaningful reform that stamps out widespread abuses of CEQA that are serving as roadblocks to environmentally responsible projects that create high-value jobs and economic growth. Unfortunately, as drafted, SB 731 would not advance true CEQA reform and, in fact, could make approval of worthy and responsible projects even more difficult.”

Carl Guardino, President & CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and co-chair of the CEQA Working Group, said: “We support Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and are committed to working with him, the Assembly Speaker and all legislators to enact meaningful CEQA reform this year. As we enter the final weeks of the legislative session, we felt it was important to reinforce our commitment to this process and, more important, to express our strong opinion that we have to amend SB 731 in order to accomplish our mutual goal of meaningful reform.”

Gary Toebben, President & CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, said: “We appreciate the effort that has been put into the bill thus far. But we still have a long way to go. We know Senator Steinberg shares our commitment to modernize CEQA in a meaningful way, and we’re hopeful that we can work together to achieve real reform this year.”      

The coalition also laid out policy principals that could guide amendments to SB 731 that include:

  • Incentivizing Projects that Help California Achieve Its Aggressive Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Land-use Planning Goals.
  • Increasing Transparency in CEQA Litigation.
  • Ensuring that CEQA Litigants Have Skin in the Game.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

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In Case You Missed It: Los Angeles Times Editorial Advocates for Thoughtful CEQA Reform, 5/20/13

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May 20  |  News, Press Releases  |   afrew

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 20, 2013

CONTACT: Kathy Fairbanks, 916-443-0872, kfairbanks@bcfpublicaffairs.com

SACRAMENTO – In an editorial today, the Los Angeles Times advocated in favor of thoughtful reforms of CEQA that strike a balance between preserving environmental protections and curbing misuses of the law. Excerpts from the editorial are below. The full editorial can be read here.  The Times joins a growing chorus of newspapers throughout California that have editorialized in favor of meaningful CEQA reform.

Los Angeles Times, Editorial, May 20, 2013, “Alter CEQA but don’t weaken it”

  • “Over the years, the law has successfully compelled many builders to improve their proposals, but it also has been used at times as a tool to stop development by opponents whose objectives have nothing to do with protecting the environment.”
  • “Perhaps the poster child for what riles CEQA’s critics is a gas station in San Jose whose owner won city approval to add a couple of pumps. A CEQA lawsuit brought by a competing gas station at the same intersection claimed that the extra pumps would create too much traffic — and held up the modest expansion for years.”
  • “Critics also point to what they call not-in-my-backyard lawsuits brought under CEQA to kill construction of housing for low-income senior citizens on a dilapidated corner in Berkeley, to keep a school from being renovated in El Cerrito and, last year, to keep the so-called subway to the sea from tunneling along its most logical route under Beverly Hills High School. Competitors have filed CEQA lawsuits to stop businesses from opening or expanding, and unions have filed suits on supposedly environmental grounds, only to withdraw them as soon as a labor agreement is reached with the developer.”
  • “Reforming the law, then, requires striking a delicate balance between preserving its protections and curbing its unnecessary job-killing costs and delays.”
  • “A bill (SB 731) that goes before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday might not resolve all the valid complaints about the law, but it moves the state in the right direction.” 

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In Case You Missed It: Mayors from Five of California’s Largest Cities Want CEQA Reform, 4/26/13

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April 26  |  News, Press Releases  |   afrew

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 26, 2013

CONTACT: Kathy Fairbanks, 916-443-0872, kfairbanks@bcfpublicaffairs.com

SACRAMENTO – Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido urged the legislature to prioritize CEQA reform this year. In an opinion piece in today’s Los Angeles Daily News they said, “It’s time to update CEQA so that it fulfills its original intent – providing abundant public access and review of information in order to better protect our precious environment – rather than be used as a means of delay or obfuscation.”

Excerpts from “Fix the California Environmental Quality Act Now” below:

  • “…today CEQA is too-often used by those who simply seek to disrupt or complicate projects, oftentimes for reasons that have nothing to do with protecting the environment.  These lawsuits and the threat of lawsuits are sometimes used to stop exactly the type of growth that we as local officials are trying to promote – infill development, expansion and improvement of public transit and bicycle facilities, affordable housing, schools, hospitals, and all manner of public works.”
  • “CEQA challenges also unnecessarily drive up costs for taxpayers – by forcing public resources to be spent defending against lawsuits and by delaying public works projects that are funded by public dollars.”

About the CEQA Working Group:

The CEQA Working Group is a broad coalition representing business, schools, hospitals, clean tech, transit, affordable housing and other organizations that are pushing for moderate reforms to CEQA that will preserve its original intent – environmental protection and public disclosure – while eliminating some of the misuses of CEQA that hurt job creation, community renewal and our environment. Follow us on Twitter: @FixCEQA

CEQA Working Group Response to SB 731 (Steinberg) Amendments, 4/24/13

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April 24  |  News, Press Releases  |   afrew

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 24, 2013

CONTACT: Kathy Fairbanks, 916-443-0872kfairbanks@bcfpublicaffairs.com

The CEQA Working Group is a broad coalition of local government, business, transportation, transit, schools, hospitals, and other organizations that have come together to support meaningful CEQA reform this year. The coalition issued the following statement in response to the amendments made to SB 731 that appeared in print today. SB 731, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s CEQA reform bill, is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, Wednesday, May 1, at 9:30 a.m.

 The statements can be attributed to Carl Guardino and Gary Toebben, Co-Chairs of the CEQA Working Group:

Carl Guardino, President & CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group:

“We support Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and are committed to working through the process he has established for negotiating CEQA reform this year. We perceive the amended language of SB 731 as a step forward in what will inevitably be a long and thorough vetting of the issues and negotiations over final language.”

Gary Toebben, President & CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce:

“We appreciate the Senator’s commitment to enacting meaningful CEQA reform this session that stamps out misuses of the law that are preventing responsible projects from moving forward, often times for reasons that have nothing to do with the environment.”

“We appreciate the effort that has been put into the bill thus far. We still have a long way to go to achieve what can be called meaningful reform.”

In Case You Missed It: U-T San Diego and Investor’s Business Daily Call for CEQA Reform, 4/22/13

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April 22  |  News, Press Releases  |   afrew

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 20, 2013

CONTACT: Kathy Fairbanks, 916-443-0872, kfairbanks@bcfpublicaffairs.com

SACRAMENTO – Recently, two more newspapers reinforced their support for CEQA reform to curb misuses of the law. Excerpts from the U-T San Diego editorial, “R.I.P. for regulatory reform?” and the Investor’s Business Daily editorial, “California Environmental Law Needs Reform, Not Excuses” are below.  

Below are excerpts:

U-T San Diego, “R.I.P for regulatory reform?,”April 21, 2013

  • “The state’s landmark environmental law has become an all-purpose tool for anyone with an agenda to block construction, business expansion and much more. Even completely groundless CEQA litigation can tie projects up for years.”

Investor’s Business Daily, “California Environmental Law Needs Reform, Not Excuses,” April 18, 2013

  • “The governor has talked about fixing a state environmental law that has turned into an all-purpose litigation machine. Now he needs to act, even if his party stands in the way.”
  • “As it stands, the law is a real roadblock to prosperity…”

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