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CEQA: A great law that’s been greatly abused

Here’s Food for Thought . . . CEQA – the California Environmental Quality Act – is a great law that’s been greatly abused.  With thoughtful leadership in Sacramento this fall, it can be modernized to meet its original intent – protecting our environment.

Here’s context: CEQA became law in 1970, signed by Governor Ronald Reagan, to help protect the environment. Since then, 120 state, federal and local environmental laws have been passed, like the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.

42 years later, the intent of CEQA, to mitigate a development’s environmental impact, has instead been used as a club to sue and stop projects, often for non-environmental purposes.

* Netflix proposed a new building in Los Gatos for 800 high-wage, high-skill, high-tech jobs, across from its current campus and approved by the Town Council. A CEQA lawsuit may very well prevent those jobs from ever happening here.

* The transit-oriented development next to the BART station being built in Milpitas risks added costs and fewer homes due to a CEQA lawsuit.

* A small gas station in east San Jose – Mo’s Gas – wanted to add one set of new pumps and was sued by the gas station across the street, using CEQA to stop a competitor, not to strengthen the environment.

Governor Jerry Brown, Assembly Speaker John Perez, and state Senator Michael Rubio, have all called for reforms to save CEQA, while ending the abuses. Senate President Darrell Steinberg announced his intent to engage this fall. We can have a healthy environment and a strong economy. We can modernize CEQA and end the abuse. Email the Leadership Group to get involved.

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