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When state environmental laws are used to halt development

We frequently write about the fact that California has some of the most stringent environmental laws in the nation. Oftentimes, these laws are used to protect and conserve natural resources and to enhance the experience of living in California. However, these laws can also be abused. When they are abused, any number of California residents and visitors can suffer as a result.

For example, the San Francisco Chronicle recently published an editorial condemning the abuse of the California Environmental Quality Act by a group which targeted the growth of a particular non-profit organization. Specifically, an anti-abortion group filed suit to prevent Planned Parenthood from opening a clinic in a vacant building in downtown South San Francisco by insisting that the city should have completed an environmental review before allowing the clinic to open. So far, this lawsuit has held up the opening of this clinic for 18 months.

There are certainly times when it is imperative that environmental reviews are conducted before private property owners, businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies construct new buildings or otherwise significantly alter the landscape. However, it is inappropriate for anyone to use environmental laws simply to block the actions of businesses or non-profit groups which engage in controversial operations.

If an environmental law is being used as a “weapon” against you, your business or your organization, do not hesitate to speak with an experienced environmental law attorney about your legal options. Depending on the specifics of your situation, your attorney may be able to help you quickly rectify the situation so that you may move forward with your operations.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, “Antiabortion group exploiting environmental law to halt clinic,” April 13, 2015

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