When one of our most prophetic local truth-tellers, my pal Fred Allebach, who has consistently correctly decoded regional land-use decisions in print and on social media for years, comes under fire for lack of due diligence and is charged in print with casting irresponsible aspersions, my back goes up.
Fred Allebach is a public resource. Fred taught me how the Monopoly game of local land use policy maps the terrain of local power. His bold, independent analysis is always highly informed and aware of all the contingencies his detractors raise. It’s not a lack of information; it’s a different value system.
The manufactured land-use dispute over the benign Hanna development is like all the rest of these fabricated calls to ‘local control’ and empowers a multitude of idiosyncratic rationales based on one group’s concept of ‘local character’ or ‘special conditions’ which can then be deployed as a club to litigate a project into the ground with a California Environmental Quality Act challenge by anyone who can afford a lawyer for a few months.
This misuse of this built-in veto that CEQA, as we know it, gives professional-class affluent citizens is the root of why we can’t build out all the necessary 21st-century low-energy mega-infrastructure or construct essential public housing.
That exchange reminded me how much we must support Governor Newsom’s call to reform CEQA. I have heard so many CEQA challenges that were on a legal par with public defender’s death penalty appeals that I am fully convinced of the need for a new set of rules that set firm, tangible legal standards to qualify for permits and apply them uniformly across the state. Then we can meet the needs of all the 40 million humans who occupy this state.
— Ben Boyce, Sonoma Valley