Misuse of environmental quality law affects UC learners

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In summary

The California Environmental Top quality Act is a single of these regulations that create unintended outcomes, and want a fresh new look.

Were I to produce another e-book about California politics — which is incredibly unlikely — it would be entitled “Unintended Consequences,” detailing how political coverage decrees mutate to have unexpected outcomes.

Illustrations of the syndrome are legion, but in this article are just two:

—In the 1960s, recently elected Gov. Ronald Reagan signed two pieces of laws that purported to reform the care and cure of the mentally unwell. They established in motion a phaseout of the state’s substantial technique of mental hospitals in favor of neighborhood mental overall health clinics. Reagan preferred to help save income and advocates for the mentally sick experienced decried the jail-like, abusive ambiance of the hospitals.

Reagan, successor governors and the Legislature by no means absolutely delivered on the assure of local community psychological wellness care, leaving lots of of the mentally unwell then and given that to fend for by themselves and contributing to the homeless disaster that now afflicts the state.

—Two seemingly unique acts in the late 1970s, the extension of collective bargaining rights to California’s public workforce in 1975 and the passage of Proposition 13, the landmark house tax restrict, in 1978, collectively led to general public employee unions’ dominance of the Legislature.

Proposition 13 indirectly shifted fiscal responsibility for universities, and a lot of community governing administration, to the point out. As condition and local workforces became pretty much totally unionized, the focus of economical energy in Sacramento gave unions the drive to reshape the Legislature into an overwhelmingly pro-union system.

The California Environmental Good quality Act, also signed by Reagan, is a 3rd significant illustration. Its mentioned purpose was to compel sponsors of projects to consider their impacts on the setting and mitigate, as considerably as attainable, adverse effects.

More than the much more than half-century considering that its passage, having said that, CEQA has morphed into a legal morass that can stall even the most benign projects indefinitely as opponents elevate objections that usually have absolutely nothing to do with environmental security.

It’s not unusual, for illustration, for building unions to threaten or file CEQA lawsuits in sick-disguised efforts to force task managers into providing their associates distinctive access to work. CEQA has come to be so onerous that the Legislature usually gives significant-profile initiatives — this kind of as athletics arenas — distinct exemptions from some of its provisions, which include this year’s Super Bowl stadium in Inglewood.

CEQA is a significant variable, even though not the only a single, in California’s lack of ability to make plenty of housing, primarily households for very low- and moderate-revenue people, to meet up with demand from customers. Individuals who do not want this sort of housing in their neighborhoods use CEQA as a software to end development, or delay it so long that it gets monetarily unworkable.

The latest case in point of CEQA’s currently being bent for needs never ever envisioned is developing in Berkeley, exactly where the city authorities and a team referred to as Help save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods sued to block the University of California’s plans to broaden enrollment.

Alameda County Judge Brad Seligman upheld their problem to UC’s designs for a new academic making and faculty housing, declaring that the project’s CEQA scientific tests had been insufficient and did not absolutely account for impacts on sounds, housing and displacement. The college was also requested to freeze its enrollment at 2020-21 levels.

It is the exact same sort of not-in-my-backyard mindset that has been so harmful to bridging the hole concerning California’s housing wants and its housing manufacturing, and in this circumstance will block access by quite a few thousand college students who experienced prepared to enter the university.

CEQA’s unintended penalties cry out for reform, one thing previous Gov. Jerry Brown once explained as “the Lord’s get the job done,” even nevertheless he was unwilling to take it on.

It even now is.