Last month, The Washington Examiner‘s California in Crisis series detailed how the California Environmental Quality Act has become a job-killing “morass of uncertainty” for private developers and government agencies alike.
Today, The San Jose Mercury News, shares such a story:
Take the case of Moe’s Stop, a gas station at McKee Road and North 33rd Street in San Jose.
In 2009, Moe tried to add three gas pumps and got the blessing of the city’s planning commission after studies showed no significant environmental impacts.
But a competing gas station across 33rd Street, Andy’s BP, filed a lawsuit under CEQA claiming that a full study of traffic impacts was necessary.
An environmental impact report in September 2011 concluded that the traffic impact was insignificant, and the City Council approved the project. But Andy’s ownersimply filed a new lawsuit, which is still pending.
The owner of Moe’s Stop estimates that the overall cost of the project delay was at least $500,000 in attorneys’ fees, the cost of the EIR and lost business when the gas station had to close for eight months awaiting litigation.
With California’s job picture still bleak, the argument that CEQA is preventing businesses from creating jobs is resonating more these days.
But it is not resonating enough. Efforts to reform CEQA have again been defeated by a labor/wealthy-home-owner/environmentalist alliance that could care less about the unemployed. Again, from The Mercury News:
The forces include powerful labor groups — which bankrolled Brown’s tax-hike campaign last fall — and environmental groups, who signaled that any attempt to make significant changes to CEQA would be met with fierce resistance.
According to critics, businesses use it to kill their competitors’ projects; homeowners use it fight aesthetic changes to their neighborhoods; and labor unions use it to blackmail developers until they get a labor agreement to their liking.
California currently has the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 9.6 percent.