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AB 1633, introduced by Assembly Member Phil Ting, represents a significant shift in California’s approach to CEQA reviews, targeting the misuse of these reviews to obstruct residential projects, especially after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ decision against a 495-unit development. This law, unlike previous attempts, doesn’t amend CEQA directly but adds two new violations under the Housing Accountability Act (HAA) to deter excessive CEQA processes. The first violation addresses unnecessary CEQA reviews for projects already exempt, while the second targets local authorities’ refusal to approve necessary environmental documents, exemplified by San Francisco’s handling of a particular development project. AB 1633 applies selectively, focusing on urbanized areas meeting specific criteria, such as proximity to transit and urban amenities, and mandates a minimum density without imposing statewide applicability or additional project requirements.

AB 1307, by Assembly Member Buffy Wicks, addresses the misuse of CEQA in assessing noise impacts from residential projects, particularly inspired by a controversy at UC Berkeley. This law deems occupant-generated noise as non-significant under CEQA, aiming to revert to handling such issues through local ordinances rather than environmental assessments. For higher education institutions, it eases the requirement for off-site alternative studies in EIRs for certain housing projects.

AB 1449, from Assembly Member David Alvarez, introduces a new CEQA exemption for actions related to affordable housing development, streamlining the process from project conception to post-approval activities. It defines ‘infill’ locations more flexibly, aligning with the law’s intent to facilitate low-income housing projects.

SB 406, by Sen. Dave Cortese, extends CEQA exemptions for financial assistance activities related to affordable housing, allowing local agencies to bypass CEQA review if another public agency is responsible for it.

SB 91, proposed by Sen. Tom Umberg, permanently extends the CEQA exemption for converting certain types of accommodations into supportive or transitional housing and includes provisions for specific transit projects in Los Angeles.

AB 356, by Assembly Member Devon Mathis, promotes urban beautification by extending a CEQA waiver for aesthetic considerations in refurbishing buildings until 2029.

Finally, SB 149, by Sen. Caballero, amends CEQA administrative record procedures, potentially reducing costs and expediting the lawsuit process against project approvals, affecting both public and private projects.



Source Name: Holland & Knight

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