Litigation under environmental law worsens California housing crisis, study claims

by Paolo Taruc22 Dec 2017
Litigation under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is worsening the state's housing crisis, a new study by global law firm Holland & Knight claims.

Data revealed that housing projects were the top target of such lawsuits. In particular, 14,000 housing units across Southern California were challenged, with 98% of them located in existing community infill locations. Some 70% of the same were located within one-half mile of transit services and 78% were located in whiter, wealthier and healthier areas of the region.

"Given California's extraordinary housing crisis and the shame inherent in having the nation's highest poverty rate in one of the world's most successful economies, our latest research clearly demonstrates the need to update CEQA's litigation rules to bring enforcement of the law into alignment with the state's environmental, equity and economic priorities," said Jennifer Hernandez, the head of Holland & Knight's West Coast Land Use and Environment Group.

The Bay Area and Los Angeles region accounted for 58% of all CEQA lawsuits filed. The next largest category of CEQA lawsuit challenges were agency plans and regulations, primarily local agency plans to increase housing or improve and diversify transportation and infrastructure, accounting for 19 percent of the total.

"CEQA is one of the well-recognized culprits in California's housing supply and affordability crisis. The need to update CEQA litigation rules to end non-environmental abuse of this important California law is stronger than ever,” Hernandez added.

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