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CEQA Reform Battle Royale Continues at City Hall

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The dueling CEQA reform measures are back again, this time at the full Board of Supervisors meeting tomorrow. Supervisors Wiener and Kim have both submitted different versions of legislation that would reform the way the City utilizes the California Environmental Quality Act. Currently in San Francisco, many building permits must go before a board or commission, making the project subject to the rules of CEQA and appealable by any member of the public (in many other cities these same permits would be approved at a staff level).

The two competing reform ordinances take very different approaches: Wiener's legislation primarily focuses on the when and how to file an appeal. His proposal creates a strict appeal timeline of 30 days after a project is first approved and moves the public comment hearings from the full Board of Supes to a board committee. It also limits the number of times a project can be appealed. Wiener's legislation has been in the works since last year and was approved by the Planning Commission.


Dolores Park has been used as an example by Sup. Wiener as an appeal being abused at the 11th hour [Photo: SF Planning]

Supervisor Kim's legislation comes in response to concerns from a coalition of neighborhood groups and advocates. They had major beef with Wiener's plan, like when the clock begins ticking on the 30-day window allowing an appeal, when there is public notification of a project and what kind of notifications are made, and the method for determining a project has not been altered significantly enough to allow for an additional opportunity to appeal. Kim's legislation also revises how Planning makes and notices exemption determinations and gives an expanded role to the Historic Preservation Commission (like giving them authority to review all environmental documents that may have an impact on historic resources, not just EIRs as they do now). She has the co-sponsorship (ie. political backing) of Supervisors Campos, Avalos, Mar, and Yee.

Some folks have speculated that the extreme disparity between the two legislations was a method of forcing compromise, but now both have been put forward for a full board vote tomorrow. Expect loads of public comment - we'll let you know how it plays out.

· Previous coverage of CEQA reform [Curbed SF]
· Wiener's CEQA Legislation [SF BOS]
· Kim's CEQA Legislation [SF BOS]
· SF lawmaker hits speedbump in CEQA reform [Examiner]