Today's Law As Amended


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SB-948 California Environmental Quality Act community plans.(2017-2018)



As Amends the Law Today


SECTION 1.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) The California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code) requires that the environmental impacts, if any, of updated community plans be identified and mitigated. The act also guarantees the public an opportunity to review and comment on the environmental impacts of a project and to participate meaningfully in the development of mitigation measures for potentially significant environmental impacts.
(b) In many parts of the state, the city or countywide general plans cover so much geographic territory that local jurisdictions also adopt community plans. These community plans allow for tailored and responsive land use planning at the neighborhood level.
(c) While most jurisdictions update the land use element of their general plan as part of their general plan update, those with multiple community plan areas update these documents individually, requiring community plans to be reviewed through separate reviews pursuant to the act. In some jurisdictions with multiple community plans, these plans have not been updated in recent years to reflect changing local priorities as well as efforts to improve air quality, reduce climate pollution, increase transit ridership, reduce vehicle miles traveled, and provide more affordable housing.
(d) One significant obstacle to updating these plans is the uncertainty that results if the environmental review document prepared pursuant to the act for the community plan update is challenged in a court. During the litigation process, it is unclear whether the community plan or the update will be in effect, causing developers and planners great uncertainty and potentially delaying all development in that community.
(e) Expediting the judicial review process for community plan updates that further the state’s climate, air quality, housing, and land use goals is the best way to ensure a thorough environmental review of community plan updates while minimizing the time the community is in limbo.

SEC. 2.

 Section 21184.7 is added to the Public Resources Code, to read:

21184.7.
 (a) For purposes of this section, “qualified community plan update” means an update of a community plan, as defined in subdivision in subdivision (e) of Section 21083.3, and the accompanying ordinances.
(b) The Governor may certify a qualified community plan update as being subject to requirements of Section 21186 and the rule of court established pursuant to Section 21185 if the qualified community plan update meets all of the following requirements:
(1) Includes two or more transit priority areas, as defined in Section 21099.
(2) Is for a jurisdiction with a general plan that includes a circulation or mobility element adopted on or after January 1, 2015.
(3) Is consistent with a sustainable communities strategy or an alternative planning strategy adopted by an applicable metropolitan planning organization and certified by the State Air Resources Board as achieving the required reduction in the emissions of greenhouse gases pursuant to Section 65080 of the Government Code.
(4) Complies with the state ambient air quality standards established by the State Air Resources Board.
(5) Includes housing capacity to sufficiently accommodate regional housing needs projects as set forth in Section 65584.01 of the Government Code.
(6) Is consistent with applicable regional plans to protect environmentally sensitive habitat areas, agricultural land, parks, flood zones, and high fire areas.
(7) Includes projects and strategies designed to reduce vehicle miles traveled and does not result in any net additional emissions of greenhouse gases, including greenhouse gas emissions from employee transportation, as determined by the State Air Resources Board.
(8) Has begun an environmental review for the update on or after January 1, 2017.
(c) The governing board of the jurisdiction proposing a qualified community plan update may apply to the Governor for certification pursuant to subdivision (b) by supplying evidence and materials sufficient to show to the Governor that the requirements set forth in subdivision (b) are met.
(d) A qualified community plan update certified by the Governor pursuant to subdivision (b) is subject to the requirements of Section 21186 and the rules of court adopted pursuant to Section 21185.
(e) This section does not affect or alter the obligation of a project that is consistent with an approved qualified community plan update to comply with this division or the eligibility of such a project for certification pursuant to Section 21183.