TheSan Francisco Chronicle editorialized in favor of CEQA reform. The SF Chronicle editorial (see full editorial below) called for reform of CEQA, noting it can be manipulated and abused for reasons that have nothing to do with the environment.
Full SF Chronicle Editorial:
“Antiabortion group exploiting environmental law to halt clinic”
April 13, 2015
Of all the well-documented abuses of the California Environmental Quality Act, this one may be the most absurd: An antiabortion group has invoked the law to halt a Planned Parenthood clinic in South San Francisco.
In the lawsuit, Respect Life South San Francisco alleged that the city should have conducted an environmental review before approving the renewal of a vacant downtown building into a health clinic. The lawsuit has held up the conversion for 18 months and counting.
It’s bad enough that an environmental law is being invoked to constrain the ability of women to obtain basic health services such as breast cancer screenings, pap smears, contraceptives, and testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections. (There were no plans to perform surgical abortions on the site.)
What’s even crazier is the plaintiff’s alleged concern in the 145-page lawsuit that the clinic’s operation would have “significant demonstrable impacts on traffic, parking, and public safety resulting from historic and reasonably probable First Amendment activity.”
In other words, the opponents of reproductive freedom are arguing that their own movement’s protests would have a disruptive effect on downtown South San Francisco.
The plaintiffs are not going away easily, despite a tentative ruling against the lawsuit by San Mateo Superior Court Judge Marie Weiner in July 2014. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood is being forced to spend money on legal fees that could have gone into health care.
This nonsense must stop. The 40-year-old CEQA has been a critical tool for preserving our natural resources, but it also has been exploited by interests whose motives have nothing to do with the environment, such as businesses that stifle would-be competitors or unions looking for leverage. The law has been used to frustrate legitimate environmental goals, such as new bike lanes, renewable-energy projects and transit-friendly development.
We can now add women’s health services to the toll of public goods that have been stymied by the California Legislature’s refusal to stand up to the interest groups who seem to think CEQA should remain carved in stone. It needs reform so that it no longer provides a free pass into court for people whose real agendas have nothing to do with the environment.Tags: CEQA