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New research reveals water infrastructure projects are frequent targets of CEQA lawsuits

June 14, 2023

Water infrastructure projects in California face major roadblocks due to lawsuits filed under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), according to recent research. The reports confirm the long-standing suspicions of industry and policy experts who have struggled to navigate the complex and time-consuming legal landscape.

In a recent article, Jennifer Hernandez of Holland & Knight calls for urgent action to restore CEQA to its intended purpose as ordinary administrative law jurisprudence. The article outlines how the act has become a tool for special interest groups and NIMBYs to impede critical projects, from housing to climate-resilient infrastructure.

Fortunately, Governor Newsom’s Infrastructure Proposal offers some hope for getting these projects off the ground expeditiously. Without such action, the litigious legal environment can add four to five years to already lengthy development timelines. Southern California Water Coalition supports the Governor’s Infrastructure Proposal.

As for Hernandez, her distinguished record and experience as a leading land use and environmental attorney in California lend credibility to her urgent call for reform.

From the article published in May 2023 in Chapman Law Review: “We urgently need the state’s elected leaders and our distinguished judiciary to please restore CEQA to ordinary administrative law jurisprudence, and allow critically-needed housing, climate resilient infrastructure, water supplies, and public services to be built in full compliance with the thousands of environmental protection statutes and regulations adopted since 1970—and stop allowing CEQA to be the massive Not in My Back Yard (“NIMBY”) status quo defender (and special interest extortion tool) that it has evolved into over the past fifty-two years.”

The article is titled “In the Name of the Environment Part III: CEQA, Housing and the Rule of Law” and it can be found at this link. Hernandez leads Holland & Knight’s West Coast Land Use and Environment Practice Group. She divides her time between the San Francisco and Los Angeles offices, and works on projects in Northern and Southern California, as well as the Central Valley. She has achieved national prominence in her work on brownfields redevelopment, wetlands and endangered species, as well as CEQA. She represents a broad variety of private, nonprofit and public sector clients, including real estate developers, public agencies and operating companies in numerous industries.

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