The City of San Francisco is known as a very green city—environmentally conscious residents recycle and many residents ride their bikes to work instead of driving their cars.
In fact, city leaders approved a plan, in 2005, to replace parking spaces with more bike lanes, however the plan got caught up in lawsuits because of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The group who filed the suit, Coalition for Adequate Review, made the argument that the city’s proposed bike lanes had not received enough review under CEQA.
A court injunction ultimately forced the city to spend three years and over $1 million to conduct the review, which resulted in a 1,353-page Environmental Impact Report.
San Francisco supervisor Scott Wiener recently proposed legislation that would change the appeal period for projects undergoing a CEQA review. Wiener wants the appeal period to be triggered by the first project approval, as opposed to the last project approval, which is the current deadline.
Recently, Senate President Pro Tem Darrel Steinberg introduced SB 731 that outlines his intent to pursue some changes in the law, including a process for faster environmental review of eco-friendly projects like bike lanes.
“This measure sets the framework to encourage smart, environmentally sound growth by streamlining the environmental review process without compromising the quality of life Californians deserve and expect in our communities,” said Steinberg. “We’ve worked hard with representatives of the business community, labor and environmental groups to preserve public input over proposed development while updating the environmental review process to speed-up good, clean projects that keeping our economy growing.”
“When it comes to dealing with controversial matters, not everybody gets everything they want. I’m gratified that all sides on this issue are willing to work with us to move forward,” said Steinberg. “We need to take advantage of the opportunity to improve and strengthen this great law by making the process more efficient, timely and effective for the kinds of projects we all want to see.”
Bill language will be drafted later.
In California Forward’s continuing efforts to hear all sides of the story about CEQA, we reached out to the Sierra Club to talk about San Francisco’s bike lanes in our latest video for our series “CEQA in the 21st Century.”
Cyclist rides down San Francisco bike lane on Market Street. (Photo Credit: John Guenther)
CEQA in the 21st Century — a series of news stories and individual perspectives designed to educate and spark dialogue on CEQA as the California Legislature revisits the role the environmental law will play in the future of our economy.