New Study Shows Value of CEQA, Proves Attacks Against it are Entirely Untrue

September 22, 2016 - A newly released study of the California Environmental Quality Act, “CEQA in the 21st Century; Environmental Quality, Economic Prosperity, and Sustainable Development in California,” vividly demonstrates that 46 years after Governor Ronald Reagan signed it, this law continues to provide broad benefits to the people of California, both in terms of environmental quality and economic prosperity, and that the frequent attacks against CEQA are entirely unfounded.

The full report, commissioned by the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, and authored by BAE Urban Economics, can be found here: We encourage that this report and its conclusions be shared and cited frequently in discussions about CEQA.

CEQA is frequently attacked for allegedly delaying construction projects and encouraging frivolous lawsuits. This report convincingly proves that not only are those allegations false, but that CEQA actually results in better projects and reduces delays and litigation, and speeds project approvals by encouraging developers to take community needs and concerns into account beforehand.

Specifically, the report’s findings include:

There is no CEQA litigation problem:

·        From 2012-15, lawsuits were filed for fewer than 1 out of every 100 projects reviewed under CEQA that were not already exempt from environmental review.  The estimated rate of litigation for all CEQA projects undergoing environmental review (excluding exemptions) was 0.7 percent for the past three years. 

·        The number of CEQA lawsuits filed each year has remained essentially constant since 2002.  There is no pattern of increased litigation under CEQA, despite strong population growth in the state during the same time period.

·        San Francisco’s CEQA record shows that it routinely uses streamlining procedures recently added to CEQA through legislation.  Of the 127 proposals subject to environmental review under CEQA between 2013 and 2015, 74 projects were deemed exempt due to existing Community Plans, and four were subject to partial environmental review under Community Plan Exemptions. Only 14 EIRs were prepared in San Francisco in the last three years.

Affordable housing is lacking, but CEQA is not the problem.

·        California already ranks 9th in the United States in per capita affordable housing production.

The California economy and job growth is thriving; CEQA is not impeding the economy or jobs:

·        There is no evidence supporting critics’ claims that CEQA impedes economic growth. In fact, California’s economy, as measured by all recognized metrics, is robust compared to that of other states, including states with less rigorous environmental laws.

·        California’s strong job growth ranked 5th among 50 states in the past three years (California’s employment grew by 8.9 percent).

·        California’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is the value of all economic output, ranked 1st in the U.S. in 2015. It also had the fastest GDP growth in the past three years. 

·        California’s increase in median household income ranks 13th among the 50 states between 2012 and 2014. 

·        California has the largest number of manufacturing jobs of the 50 states, with over 1.28 million manufacturing jobs in 2015.  Manufacturing employment has increased by almost 38,000 jobs in the past three years. 


Please feel free to circulate the report and its conclusions widely.



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