LA Times: Blame California’s cities and counties for housing delays, not state environmental law, new study says

LA Times: Blame California’s cities and counties for housing delays, not state environmental law, new study says
February 20, 2018 Peter

Construction workers building homes in Echo Park.Those who want to blame a California environmental law for the state’s housing problems should instead point their fingers at cities and counties, according to a new report from researchers at UC Berkeley and Columbia University. The California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, a 1970 state law, requires developers to analyze and eliminate a project’s effect on the environment before building. While often praised for preservation, CEQA is a continual target for those who argue the law blocks needed housing. The real problem isn’t CEQA, but rather how local governments approve projects, the report said. CEQA only comes into play if a city or county decides to review housing developments individually. If a local government relies on zoning or other processes to determine whether a particular project gets built, developers don’t have to go through the CEQA process. “It’s a choice that local governments are making,” said Eric Biber, a law professor at UC Berkeley and one of the report’s authors.

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