SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed legislation easing environmental regulations for developments in California cities, including a new basketball arena in downtown Sacramento.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) introduced the bill primarily to smooth the way for construction of a new arena for the Sacramento Kings basketball team, but added changes to the California Environmental Quality Act that make it harder to sue to block projects in urban transit zones throughout the state.
"We were pleased to play a part in broadening the impacts of this bill," said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the governor.
Steinberg added: " “This bill’s changes fuse CEQA with the promotion of smart urban growth, which is a victory for the economy, for the environment, and for California."
Provisions of SB 743 will:
--Remove parking and aesthetics standards as grounds for legal challenges against developments in urban infill areas near transit stops.
--Modernize the statewide measurements against which traffic impacts are assessed and resolved, allowing developers to offset the impacts by building near mass transit stations.
--Expand an exemption from CEQA litigation for mixed residential/commercial projects located within transit priority areas where a full environmental impact review has already been completed.
For the Sacramento arena project, the bill prevents certain lawsuits stopping the project unless a judge finds a danger to public health and safety, and allows the government to force the sale of properties through eminent domain concurrently with the environmental review process.