Since 1970, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) has made environmental protection a cornerstone of development in California. Many view disputes involving CEQA as a simple fight between developers who want to expand the state’s economy and environmentalists who want to stop land development. However, the truth is far more nuanced than that.
Abusive lawsuits alleging violations of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) have become prevalent in the State of California. As pointed out recently by Fresno community activist and businessman Darius Assemi, CEQA lawsuits are commonly used as a tool to block development and revitalization of downtown areas, rather than to stop development on wild lands.
Fresno has worked hard for years to revitalize its downtown community. Business people, community leaders and elected officials have banded together to rebuild a once-vibrant community hub. Their progress has been hindered by a community group that disagrees with their goals and is willing to use lawsuits alleging CEQA violations to delay and stall development. The vague wording of CEQA allows lawsuits to be filed to delay the progress of development projects using the claim that there was not enough public input. This language leads to near-endless litigation, and leaves it up to the courts to decide the threshold for appropriate community input.
CALA has reported on how these abusive lawsuits hurt local economies and cost jobs. Recently, Governor Jerry Brown called CEQA reform “The Lord’s Work”. Let’s pray he addresses it soon.