Many California developers have complained that environmental legislation in the state hinders their ability to develop new buildings or affordable housing. The California Environmental Quality Act requires builders to involve public participation when developing plans as well as to minimize environmental damage through conducting scientific studies. However, the state’s governor has also called for 3.5 million homes to be built before 2025, a goal that may be difficult to meet within the framework of the law’s restrictions.
Some developers and construction trade unions have said that the breadth of the law allows neighborhood groups to put a stop to nearly any unwanted project regardless of its environmental impact. Some union officials said that they were working to develop a streamlined version of the law but also noted that it was not intended to hinder protection of the environment, especially amid growing threats of climate change. Even unions participating in the process have signed on to statements urging protection for low-income housing and environmental safety. Instead of focusing primarily on changes to environmental law, one union official said that they were working on stronger protections for builders from construction defect lawsuits, producing savings that could bolster workers’ pay.
Some environmental advocates say that the law is important for protecting the environment, even though they criticize its use by some communities to keep out projects deemed undesirable. In one case, a homeless shelter was blocked by locals under the law’s provisions. They said that California’s housing shortage and skyrocketing prices were primarily caused by other factors rather than the state’s environmental regulations.
Builders may face a number of issues when looking to move forward on a construction project, including zoning issues and environmental compliance. An environmental law attorney can work with businesses to help them address environmental disputes and achieve their goals successfully.