Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thursday Must Reads: CEQA Reform Bill Moves Forward; Brown Proposes to Move Giant Water Tunnels

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Aug 15, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Legislation that would reform California’s primary environmental law to make it easier to build smart-growth projects in cities moved forward in the state capital, the LA Times$ reports. The bill by Senate leader Darrell Steinberg would speed up approvals of infill development in urban neighborhoods. Business groups, however, oppose the bill because they contend it does not go far enough to reform the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which is often used by anti-growth activists to block projects that would help in the fight against climate change.

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2. Governor Jerry Brown’s administration is proposing to relocate two giant water tunnels that it wants to build in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region, the SacBee$ reports. The proposed move comes in response to Delta residents and farmers who objected to the original proposed route of the tunnels. Many environmental groups, however, strongly oppose the giant water tunnels — regardless of their location — because they contend the tunnels could destroy the largest estuary on the West Coast.

3. An odd coalition of labor unions, good government groups, and anti-tax organizations are backing legislation that would restrict the ability of cities, counties, and school districts to run political campaigns through nonprofit groups, the SacBee$ reports. It’s against the law for public agencies to spend taxpayer funds on political campaigns — such as local bond measures — but cities, counties, and school districts have been skirting that law by using nonprofits to run the campaigns.

4. California prison medical facilities are gearing up for an influx of inmates who are participating in the six-week long hunger strike and are growing increasingly ill, the LA Times$ reports.

5. The state Supreme Court officially ended the battle over same-sex marriage in California, denying a request by anti-gay marriage groups to limit the US Supreme Court’s decision on Prop 8 earlier this year to the Berkeley and Los Angeles couples who sued to overturn the measure, the Chron reports. The state Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is legal throughout California.

6. And California State University East Bay in Hayward is making final preparations to demolish a tall, iconic building on campus this Saturday because it’s seismically unsafe, the The Daily Review and Chron report.

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