From: Lisa Mascaro, Daily News
Published March 16, 2005 12:00 AM

Environmentalists Tout Land-Use Law's Successes

LOS ANGELES — Environmentalists released a sweeping report on Tuesday outlining major milestones in preserving open space and other resources through California's landmark land-use law, which is now being eyed for revisions.

Marking the 35th anniversary of the California Environmental Quality Act, the hefty report points to dozens of "success stories," including saving the Santa Monica Mountains from development and cleaning air at Los Angeles' ports.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and various legislators are now considering changes to CEQA to ease California's housing crisis and spur home building.

"CEQA is really the foundation of California's environmental laws. It gives ordinary people the power to stand up against powerful interests to make sure their homes and communities are places they want to live," said Teresa Schilling, a spokeswoman for the California League of Conservation Voters, which produced the report with the Planning and Conservation League.

"What's happening is the usual suspects, the powerful special interests ... are lining up to try to rule out this safeguard."


Enacted in 1970, CEQA requires public review of proposed new developments, and requires that new projects remedy or reduce any harm they would cause to the surroundings.

Using CEQA, opponents have successfully fought off industrial facilities near neighborhoods, oil drilling off the coast and housing in open space, the report said.

But developers and some political leaders in Sacramento have been increasingly arguing that the law is being abused by NIMBYs who can file a lawsuit and halt a development.

Tim Coyle, senior vice president of the California Building Industry Association, said the development community wants to end the abuse.

"Home builders are strong supporters of the California Environmental Quality Act. The problem is not CEQA, but those who abuse CEQA," he said.

He and others point to the state's housing crisis, with record-high home prices and demand outpacing supply, as key reasons to revisit the law.

Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

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