Land Use

What power does the state have over land-use regulation in California?

State court concludes that state does have the authority to intervene in local regulation of land-use

A big court ruling in California land-use law happened last month – and it has really large implications for the state’s efforts to address California’s housing crisis. The lawsuit is a challenge by a pro-housing advocacy group (California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund (CARLA)) to a decision by the City of San Mateo to …

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Why Local Governments Underproduce Housing

Local control over land-use regulation means local governments focus more on the harms than the benefits of housing

As governments in California and across the United States wrestle with how to address soaring housing costs, a significant flashpoint has been the issue of local control.  Most land-use regulation in the United States is done by local governments: cities, counties, towns, villages.  In California, much of the legislation intended to increase housing production has …

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If not Berkeley, where?

Court order freezing UC Berkeley enrollment raises critical questions about how California provides for equitable growth in the state

This is my final post on the CEQA litigation over UC Berkeley enrollment. For earlier posts, see here (providing background information), here (discussing the implications of considering enrollment decisions to be within the scope of CEQA), and here (discussing whether to expand CEQA to cover socioeconomic impacts). In this final post, I want to explore …

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CEQA and socioeconomic impacts

Why expanding CEQA to cover socioeconomic impacts might harm equity goals

Today I continue my series of blog posts on the CEQA lawsuit over UC Berkeley’s enrollment. My first post provided an introduction to the case and its background; my second post examined the risks of expanding environmental review to small-scale, individual decisions like the enrollment decisions at issue in this case. Today’s post will address …

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What is a project?

Is admitting a student to a university the kind of project requiring CEQA analysis?

Yesterday, I introduced the CEQA lawsuits over UC Berkeley’s expanding enrollment and its potential impacts on the surrounding neighbor. Today, in my second post, I want to explore the implications of applying environmental review statutes such as CEQA to individual, small-scale decisions like university enrollment. The legal question at issue in the case was whether …

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CEQA and UC Berkeley’s Enrollment

A recent court order freezing UC Berkeley enrollment highlights key issues in CEQA

A recent court order, freezing UC Berkeley’s student enrollment at 2021-22 levels, has earned some press attention and notoriety. Commentators on Twitter have accused the lead plaintiffs (residents in the Berkeley area) of being exclusionary NIMBYs. The court’s decision was premised on violations by UC Berkeley of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a law …

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California Enacts Historic Housing Reform Laws

Legislation Promotes New Housing, Infill Development, & Reduced Air Pollution

The California Legislature recently enacted, and Governor Gavin Newsom last week signed into law, two major housing reform measures.  SB 9 and SB 10 represent California’s most transformative new housing laws in decades, and are a belated but welcome legislative response to the state’s longstanding housing crisis. SB 9, authored by California State Senate leader …

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Top 10 Biggest Environmental Wins In California’s History

Ranking the victories that saved priceless landscapes and environmental features

California is generally known as an environmental leader, but the state has also faced tremendous environmental degradation and destruction. I chronicled my “top 10” worst environmental decisions in the state’s history last year. But what about the good things state policy makers have done? Here is my list of the most significant environmental wins in …

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Earth System Interventions for Sustainability

Brand in 2020, via Cmichel67 at Wikimedia.

We actively shape major Earth systems, with increasingly powerful technologies. We should face up to it.

Stewart Brand–a contender for the most interesting living person in the world–famously opened the Whole Earth Catalogue in 1969, “We are as gods and might as well get good at it.” Importantly (and often misunderstood), he meant not that we are gods, but instead that technologies have given humanity powers that had previously been exclusive …

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The Illusions of Takings Law

Nothing is as it seems, when the issue is whether a regulation is a “taking” of property.

For the last century, the Supreme Court has tried to operationalize the idea that a government regulation can be so burdensome that it amounts to a seizure of property. In the process, it has created a house of mirrors, a maze in which nothing is as it seems. Rules that appear crisp and clear turn …

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