Senate Bill 1451 (Hill) amends Public Resources Code section 21177 in order to limit the occurrence of "document dumping," a practice used by some project opponents in California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA") proceedings.
Under current law, Public Resources Code section 21177 requires potential litigants to exhaust administrative remedies before suing under CEQA. The current law allows parties to present issues of any kind until the close of the public hearing on the project, and still satisfy section 21177's exhaustion requirements. The practical result, however, is that project opponents may wait until the last minute in the public review period before raising issues, or submitting documents, that could have reasonably been introduced earlier in the process. This practice typically results in a delay on a project vote, sometimes ranging from weeks to months.
SB 1451 would curb the practice of filing a CEQA lawsuit based on issues raised after the public comment period or contained in documents submitted at the last minute. The bill would also encourage timely public engagement to ensure efficient and informed decision-making in the CEQA process.
The full text of the bill may be found here. We will continue to monitor this bill as it makes its way through the legislative process.
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