New Summary Report on California’s Law to Streamline Environmental Review of Infill Projects

As this blog has chronicled, California has undertaken some ambitious efforts to streamline environmental review for certain infill projects under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). One of the most recent and potentially far-reaching attempts, SB 226 (Simitian, 2011), creates an in-depth administrative process to define the standards for what constitutes a “good” infill project.  Qualifying projects can then take advantage of prior, master-level environmental review and potentially experience a faster, more certain permitting process.  The statute charges the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) with developing the infill performance standards and clarifying the key legal terms.

To help OPR with SB 226 implementation, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and UCLA Law convened a group of technical experts and CEQA attorneys last month in Berkeley. The group provided OPR staff with feedback on their draft proposal.  Based on that discussion, the three law schools today release a summary report called “Defining Good Infill,” which describes the technical and legal challenges associated with SB 226 implementation and the highlights from the convening discussion. You can download the report from the Berkeley, Davis, or UCLA websites.  OPR will submit the final guidelines and performance standards by the end of June to the Natural Resources Agency for certification.

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