Friday, August 30, 2013

Development in Marinwood Development Area won't require rigorous environmental review

Our precious Marin land and our health is being threatened by the "gutting" of CEQA regulations

Transit oriented projects like Marinwood Plaza will be exempt from CEQA environmental review 
in the Marinwood Priority Development Area

Do you know that in an effort to "streamline" development, politicians have gutted rigorous environmental standards for development in the Marinwood Priority Development Area and other "transit oriented development"?

Exemption from Environmental Review "Transit-priority projects" (transit-based development), as defined by California law S.B. 375 is supposed to help achieve the carbon emissions reduction targets mandated by A.B 32. However, rather than strengthen environmental protections and facilitate emission reductions, S.B. 375 provides loopholes that allows Transit-based projects to be fast-tracked by developers and avoid compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

From S.B. 375, page 3: "This bill would exempt from CEQA a transit priority project, as defined, that meets certain requirements and that is declared by the legislative body of a local jurisdiction to be a sustainable communities project. The bill would provide for limited CEQA review of various other transit priority projects."

SEC. 15. (page 37)
(a) If a residential or mixed-use residential project is consistent with the use designation, density, building intensity, and applicable policies specified for the project area in either a sustainable communities strategy or an alternative planning strategy, for which the State Air Resources Board pursuant to subparagraph (I) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 65080 of the Government Code has accepted the metropolitan planning organization’s determination that the sustainable communities strategy or the alternative planning strategy would, if implemented, achieve the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and if the project incorporates the mitigation measures required by an applicable prior environmental document, then any findings or other determinations for an exemption, a negative declaration, a mitigated negative declaration, a sustainable communities environmental assessment, an environmental impact report, or addenda prepared or adopted for the project pursuant to this division shall not be required to reference, describe, or discuss

(1) growth inducing impacts; or

(2) any project specific or cumulative impacts from cars and light-duty truck trips generated by the project on global warming or the regional transportation network.

(b) Any environmental impact report prepared for a project described in subdivision (a) shall not be required to reference, describe, or discuss a reduced residential density alternative to address the effects of car and light-duty truck trips generated by the project.

 For example, a 200-unit residential development a half mile from [Golden Gate Transit Buslines or SMART] might be exempted entirely from CEQA review. The surrounding community would be unable to petition for additional greenhouse gas reduction measures, such as solar panels, car-sharing, construction and exhaust emissions reduction, asbestos mitigation from demolition of existing buildings, voicing site contamination issues, or issues related to aesthetic concerns when proposed development is out of scale with surrounding homes and businesses.

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