Friday, February 12, 2010

Arnold Terminates CEQA. So Where's the Green Outrage?

We talked about this a few days ago, and now it looks like it has happened. CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act, began its death spiral yesterday, initiated by a Governor who has often - and loudly - proclaimed himself to be the Greenest of the Green.

Which pretty much completes yet another step in the process of removing any local recourse to development projects Sacramento might deem worthy of its patronage. While SB 375 has effectively removed CEQA reviews from any projects deemed to be a part of an overall Transportation Oriented Development deal, the 4 bills introduced yesterday, collectively known as the "CEQA Litigation Protection Pilot Program," finishes that picture. When signed into law, this legislation will allow any CEQA exemptions to be doled out to developers that the Governor has taken a shine to. Which will mean that yet another power that used to belong to the people of California has been confiscated and placed into the hands of whoever happens to be the strongman in Sacramento at the time.

A couple of days ago Sacramento Bee editorial writer Dan Morain anticipated yesterday's legislative debacle, and made some telling observations about just exactly what was about to go down.

Schwarzenegger seeks to help more developers like Ed Roski - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is hoping that his political relationship with billionaire Ed Roski Jr. bares offspring. Aswe wrote on Sunday, the governor signed extraordinary legislation exempting Roski from lawsuits over California environmental law in his effort (to) construct an 80,000-seat football stadium in the San Gabriel Valley town of City of Industry. The stadium would house the National Football League team Roski hopes to bring to the Los Angeles area. Now as part of his push to help the economy, the governor is urging lawmakers to approve legislation that would authorize his administration and future governors to grant the same sorts of exemptions to 25 projects a year.

The governor contends that these would be projects where environmental impact reports have already been done. But under this proposal, the governor's secretary of Business, transportation & Housing would gain significant power to reward developers. The secretary could exempt 25 projects, ranging from roads to housing, from lawsuits questioning whether or not the developers had complied with the California Environmental Quality Act. Schwarzenegger has not identified the projects. But his proposal gives the geographic spread: 10 in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties; five in Sacramento and other Central Valley counties; five in the Bay Area; and five to be determined.

Schwarzenegger portrays himself as the environment's best friend. But this idea amounts to an assault on the state's strongest environmental law, the California Environmental Quality Act ... Many developers are political players. This could be a great way for a governor to reward friends. The concept raises all sorts of other questions. What happens if a developer doesn't make the list? Could that developer seek special legislation to be placed on the favored list? Could that developer sue to be added to the list?

Yesterday legislation was introduced in both the State Senate and Assembly to accomplish just those ends. These are the 4 bills that would effectively turn California's signature environmental protection law into yet one more prize available within the Sacramento patronage system. Think of it as the monetizing of our environmental birthright.

AB x8 37 (Calderon & Nestande)
AB 1805 (Calderon & Nestande)
SB x8 42 (Correa & Cogdill)
SB 1010 (Correa & Cogdill)

Pretty sad to say, but you would think that something as momentous as the introduction of legislation that would end the California Environmental Quality Act, signed into law 40 years ago by then Governor Ronald Reagan, would merit a little news coverage. But, and according to the Google checks I've just made, as of this typing you are now reading the only news venue anywhere that is covering this piece of the story. Good times.

Another piece of the puzzle for your consideration. One of the centerpieces of Governor CEQA Terminator Schwarzenegger's claims to green divinity is SB 375. This dubious piece of legislation, which proclaims that we can somehow build our way out of global warming, is often cited by those who defend the environmental record of this guy. But is it really all it's cooked up to be? Is this really a "Green" law? Apparently SCAG majordomo Hasan Ikhrata has his doubts. This from a California Planning & Development Report piece called "Locals Attack SB 375 As Inefficient Way To Go After Climate Change:"

A similar but more subtle argument came from Hasan Ikhrata, the executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments, which is charged with implementing SB 375 in the Los Angeles region. Speaking on the same panel as Schuiling, Ikhrata said: "I don't think 375 should be thought of as a global warming bill. I don't think it's the most cost-effective way to reduce GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions ... When I speak about 375 I speak about a land use bill, an urban form bill."

This was substantially the same point Ikhrata made a couple of weeks ago at the SCAG General Assembly in La Quinta, when he rolled out SCAG's "conceptual land use plan." Ikhrata did not deny that SCAG and the region's local governments should pursue a more efficient urban form, but, rather, argued that policymakers should rely less on the idea that climate change is the reason for doing so.

Well there you go. I guess SB 375 never really was about saving the world after all. Rather it is just another shoddy piece of Sacramento legislation designed to reward the development lobbies for their generous support. Which is pretty much what the four bills introduced yesterday are all about as well.

So where is the Green outrage?


  1. From our government those they do business with get the
    truth. But the voters, the people who are supposed to count?
    What do they get? Fairy tales told by aparatchiks like Joe Mosca.

  2. You got that right, Curly.

    So what do we do? Vote for representitives who will stand up for the people.

    First place we start is right here in Sierra Madre.

    We need to vote for Don Watts, Pat Alcorn and our hero, Sir Eric Maundry, aka JOHN CRAWFORD.

    Guys like Mosca are part of the problem, not the solution.
    I wish we could deport him back to the East Coast and deport Arnold back to Austria.

  3. What all of these bills are doing are targeting specific projects and making them judicially immune from CEQA challenges, just as was accomplished in the court case under SB 375. This is the latest in Sacramento's bag of tricks to force development without community review or consideration of the impacts of development.

    See the Tattler's previous post for background

  4. It's really shocking Laurie B, hopefully, people like you and Sir Eric and honest activists and honest elected officials can combat this outrage.

    It's obvious most of our elected officials don't give a damn about us or the enviornment!

    If this is not stopped the State of California will have a larger carbon footprint than China!

    Totally disgusting!

  5. Love the safeguard, projects are exempt only after the EIR is done.
    Want to see what an EIR'd project looks like?
    Drive up to the top of Baldwin, or what used to be the top of Baldwin, and take a gander at the environment up there.

  6. Crazy days. Is anyone in the state government paying attention to the population shifts in the state, or the reality on the ground that the voters are experiencing, or all the empty houses and condos? They are way, way too insulated in Sacramento, and living in a bubble.

  7. What does the Sierra Club have to say? How about the National Resource Defense Council? It might get to the point here that we're going to need Amnesty International to defend Californian residents!

  8. Maybe the developers who do their deeds elsewhere are different from the ones we know in Sierra Madre. The ones we know in Sierra Madre do not need things like the "CEQA Litigation Protection Pilot Program." In fact, it is the city that needs protection from developer law suits. What is this, kind of an Alice in Wonderland flip or what? Let's protect the bullies against those who are trying to defend themselves and their environments.

  9. Just follow the money.

    Then boycott condos, malls and supercenters. Just stop. Pretend it's WW II and don't buy anything, support the citizen effort at conserving resources and enjoying home and family.

    Or relocate to a less expensive state. Just like the folks pulling their money out of the big banks...

  10. 8:59, doesn't it make you think of our own political situation in town? If you object to someone aggressively planning to change the downtown, stuffing in condos, mixed use, the so-called residences for people who work in the mixed use shops when we all know they wouldn't be able to afford them, if you object to that ruining of our small town's downtown, you are NOT NICE. So the message is, just let me do what I want, or you are NOT NICE. It's the DSPers, and the hillside exploiters who are NOT NICE, not the people who struggle against their expansionist plans.

  11. 8:53 - the Sierra Club, to its everlasting shame and infamy, supported SB375 out of the box. They even stood at Der Gropenfuhrer's side as he signed it into law. Now they're standing around gasping like fish because CEQA is being gutted. Just goes to show you how certain well-placed money contributions can blind people to what is really going on. I left the Sierra Club and will never send them another dime.

  12. Anon @ 8:53

    LOL.....It's common knowledge in political circles that the Sierra Club was co-opted by development interests decades ago. Besides, it just means more outsiders.

  13. Exactly, where is the Green outrage? or was so much of the Green movement all along, a method of the building industry, to find new avenues for profit?

  14. Kinda reminds you of another scam.
    How's the "global warming" working out for all the folks around the country?


  15. !!!???&&&###February 12, 2010 at 10:23 AM

    That is comes of all this. The Sacra-Mentos use the language of the environmental movement to try and pump some life into the developers, people figure it all out, and after they do they'll never believe a single thing that real greens have to say from now on. To them it was just an angle to make a little money.

  16. Damn that's true 10:23. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater all over the place, and why? Because the bathwater has gotten so damn filthy there doesn't seem to be any other way around it.

  17. While it can certainly be a double edge sword, we do have the initiative process available to us.

    I think a proposal to overturn the proposed legislation and to insure that ALL CEQA requirements remain in full effect on all projects might make sense...

  18. That's what we're trying to do, gilman.
    We need to all be activists on this issue.
    It is so important to everyone to stop these monsters in Sacramento.

  19. I've got a questionnaire for the realtors in California:
    1) What do you think of the evisceration of CEQA?
    2) Who needs protection more, developers or developees?
    3) If you can't defeat local slow growth movements, what is your vision for your future?
    4) Is there anything you won't do to make a sale?

  20. Remember the suit that some concerned citizens were pressing against Roski? Maybe they irritated Roski just enough, like a small buzzing fly, so that he told Arnie, "Ya gotta do something about these pests."

  21. 10:58 am!

    Best post of the day, so far!!!!!!

  22. 9:19. Excellent post and it does hit close to home. Councilman Zimerman, for example, happens to be one of the nicest persons I have ever met. His nice side really came out during the fire when he went around town and reassured the residents and made sure that displaced pets where sheltered. I understand that it was also Zimmerman's idea to acknowledge the firefighters and law enforcement officers that helped save out town in 2008 with a special ceremony.

    The DIRTs and DICS, however, attempted to paint him in the press as mean spirited and nasty because he opposed over-development and was passionate about preservation. A common refrain from them was that he never laughed or smiled.

  23. Pretty much the same boneheads who are running around with their hair on fire yammering about how the library is going to be shut down.

    You know how you can tell when they're lying, right? Their lips are moving.

  24. Zimmerman delivered probably the most poignant speeches I ever heard during the fire. He was choked up and talked about how the fireman formed a wall to stop the fire.

    Pissed me off when the DIRTS started a whispering campaign about how he was a mean and nasty person to undermine his preservationist message.

  25. Sierra Club has a reaction to all this

  26. 1:04. Thanks for the link to the Sierra Club's response to the proposed legislation. It's a marvelous example of hypocrisy. On the one hand, the Club supports CEQA exemptions for transportation projects of questionable or no environmental benefit; on the other hand, the Club objects to a law that would exempt non-transportation projects of questionable or no environmental benefit.

  27. 12:10 --> I think the right way to say this is:
    "They lit their hair on fire and then tried to put it out with a hammer." At least that's the way I've always heard it.

  28. I'm with gilman. There is an initiative process and it needs to be invoked. It's going to be a little more difficult because of the size of the state, the numbers,etc but there ought to be some org that can be helpful here. Cities are losing there rights to govern. They may not have done the best job, but they could and often did say NO otherwise, we wouldn't be having this conversation. We're living out Star Wars

  29. Dr S: Now you can see why the "New Constitution" guys want to do away
    with voter initiatives. Would it
    surprise you to know they are almost
    the exact same guys who made SB 375
    happen? They want it all.

  30. Can you imagine the panty knots Arnold, Jim Wonderman, and Darrell "The Strawberry" Steinberg will experience if the anti-AB 32 voter initiative gets on the ballot and goes down in flames? They be trading body carbon like there is no tomorrow!

  31. How can you say that SB 375 was supposed to reward developers? The land use plans that follow will end the easy and profitable greenfield master planned communities and force them to do the hard infill multi-family redevelopment. What it is going to do is make homes more expensive and we all have to prepare to have our kids and grandkids living with us, or moving out of state. We simply won't keep up with the birthrate.

  32. Bwahahahaha!!! So what you're saying is that it was Sierra Madre that forced all those poor beset developers to cowtow to the Downtown Specific Plan. And Monrovia and Pasadena forced them to build all those unsold condos? ARE YOU ACTUALLY SAYING THAT THE DEVELOPERS ARE THE VICTIMS HERE? ARE YOU? PLEASE SAY THAT YOU ARE. I REALLY NEED THE LAUGH.

    Gawd, that's stupid. Are you Joe, anonymous?

  33. I am actually beginning to appreciate the depth of Joe's lack of intelligence. He is so outmatched on the council, and he doesn't even know it. That takes some real obliviousness, a talent as it were, for not knowing.

  34. SB 375 was an environmentalist driven bill. They want to drive future development back into the existing built communities. Be honest and place the blame where it squarely belongs.

  35. 2:16, you sound like you've been listening to Karen Warner, the $50,000 housing element of the general plan consultant, or other SCAG true believers.
    Shall we start a charity for developers?
    How about making the housing that no one wants available at special discounts?
    Get a room at the freeway close Stuart, or one of the still-hasn't-sold condos in the Monrovia Commons, or any of the other many, many places that have gone belly up.
    5 developers to a room.
    Oh the pity of it all.

  36. Whatever, 4:04. Any environmentalist input or intention was so severely co-opted and corrupted by the building industry that it doesn't matter at all.
    The building industry is good at bulldozing people as well as the environment.
    It's their expertise.



  38. Will build condos for food. Please Help!

  39. Hey Doc S.!

    Stay out of those rodeos will you?
    We need ya here on the Tattler!

  40. yeah, these people are pathetic, but please don't tell me you're surprised! Friends don't let friends buy snake oil!!

  41. There is always hopeFebruary 12, 2010 at 9:45 PM

    Dear Developers and Builders,
    If you are that anxious to build for someone and feel that anxious, go to Haiti. The people there need homes, condos and buildings. They need Kindness, so do not take Joe or John. But,go build for people who need and want buildings and will appreciate you.
    PS: Leave your egos buried somewhere in the Pacific and find some humility on the way there. It may do you some good.