Update on the Berkeley / CEQA Kerfluffle

That was pretty quick . As reported in the NY Times

California lawmakers on Monday headed off an enrollment freeze at the University of California, Berkeley, that threatened the growth not only of the iconic campus but also of public education institutions across the state.

The legislation, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom hours after its passage, will override a court order that would have forced Berkeley to cut thousands of students from its planned on-campus fall enrollment. Its swift enactment was lauded by Carol Christ, the university’s chancellor, “on behalf of the thousands of students who will benefit from today’s vote.”

As noted in SEEKING AN END TO CEQA? , I really don’t believe that all the hoo-ha about the court order blocking enrollment was really about enrollment at Berkeley. Instead, it looks to me like a coordinated effort aimed at getting rid of the law, and any analysis or mitigation of environmental impacts.

Can CEQA be improved? Yeah, of course. A law put into place 50 years ago probably could use an overhaul and a reevaluation, conditions have changed, and with changing conditions there are different priorities. As one example, affordable housing is high on the list, and one of the common criticisms is that CEQA prevents or unacceptably delays the development of new housing.

But is that so? According to the Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP) there hadn’t been enough data collected to determine if CEQA really does have an impact. So AEP and The Housing Workshop conducted a survey of cities and counties throughout California. What they found was that CEQA isn’t the problem

For market based housing high building costs and neighborhood opposition were the major roadblocks, and for affordable housing lack of financing and high costs were the main factors constraining housing production. CEQA review barely showed

I understand that there is a cost to doing EIRs, but if that isn’t really the constraining factor, don’t we run the risk of doing more harm than good by altering the law without doing anything about the main causes?


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