Governor Signs Jackson Bill To Streamline Environmental Review Process, Make It More Accessible to the Public

September 22, 2016

SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown has just signed a bill authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) to help expedite the environmental review process under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), California’s landmark law for evaluating and mitigating the environmental impacts of development projects.

Senate Bill 122, which is jointly authored by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), creates efficiencies in the environmental review process without undermining the law’s overall goal of informed environmental decision-making. It is the result of input gathered from a variety of stakeholders – business and environmental groups, local government groups, lawyers, academics, and others – over a number of months. SB 122 received bipartisan support as it moved through the Legislature.

“This bill is a practical measure designed to address common areas of agreement, and help bring this process into the 21st century, making it more efficient and more accessible to the public,” said Jackson.

SB 122 would improve and expedite the CEQA process by:

  1. Creating an Internet Clearinghouse of all CEQA documents. The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research already has an online repository of a limited number of CEQA documents, called CEQAnet. This bill would require that CEQAnet include all documents, making them easily accessible to the public. This could also reduce costs and save time and resources.
  2. Saving Time and Money Through the ‘Concurrent Preparation of Administrative Record.’ If a development project is controversial, it is sometimes challenged in court. One of the necessary elements for litigation to move forward is to compile the ‘record of proceedings’ – a written record of all the materials supporting the lead agency’s decision. This can take months to complete. To save time and expense, this bill allows a lead agency, at the request of the project applicant, to prepare the record while going through the CEQA process.

SB 122 takes effect on January 1, 2017.