Arena Development and Environmental Review Reform Under SB 743
8 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2014 Last revised: 30 May 2014
Date Written: April 28, 2014
On September 27, 2013, California passed SB 743, an act purporting to pursue “Judicial Review Streamlining for Environmental Leadership Pro-jects.” On its surface, the bill was mere special interest legislation intended to convince the National Basketball Association to block the relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle, Washington. In truth, however, SB 743’s effects stretched far beyond expediting the construction of a new arena. For years, California had been considering steps to undercut its cumbersome environmental review regulations. In crafting SB 743, these dormant mechanisms — shortening litigation windows and limiting the subjects of review — were pulled off the shelf. The result is a commonly dismissed piece of legislation that quietly changes the course of state environmental review.
This Note begins by analyzing California’s complicated history with environmental review in the form of the California Environmental Quality Act, including the need for reformation of its provisions, and the past failures to untangle the snare of its regulations. It then proceeds to consider the context of SB 743, as well as its two major attempts at reform and empowerment of municipal development in environmental litigation. While the bill is a first step toward needed reform, especially in its more nuanced understanding of environmental mitigation, its gerrymandered reduction of access to environmental litigation is a concerning restriction of complainants’ right to seek court review.
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