California Governor Vows to Change Law Blocking New Housing

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he’ll work this year to reform a landmark state environmental law that he says has been weaponized by wealthy homeowners to block badly-needed housing for students at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Newsom’s comments over the weekend followed a state appeals court ruling that found the University of California “failed to assess potential noise impacts from loud student parties in residential neighborhoods near the campus” as required by the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, when it planned new housing near the university.

The 1st District Court of Appeals’ ruling Friday could delay the building of a complex at Berkeley’s historic People’s Park, which is owned by the University of California, Berkeley, for years or even decades, Newsom said.

The housing complex would accommodate about 1,100 UC Berkeley students and 125 formerly homeless people. Part of the park would be set aside to commemorate its significance in the civil rights movement, university officials have said.

University officials said in a statement Monday they were “dismayed” by the decision and planned to file an appeal with the California Supreme Court, adding that their commitment to building the People’s Park project “is unwavering.”

The university called the appeals court decision “unprecedented and dangerous” because it could prevent colleges and universities across California from building student housing.

The project has faced opposition since its inception and last year two local organizations, Make UC a Good Neighbor and The People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group, filed a lawsuit against it, citing the CEQA law and saying the university’s environmental impact report had not considered the housing complex would bring more noise to the area.

The landmark 1970 environmental law requires state and local agencies to evaluate and disclose significant environmental effects of projects and to find ways to lessen those effects. But in the decades since its passage, critics say the environmental law has been used by opponents of development to block housing and public transit projects.

Newsom said in a statement posted on Twitter the law is “broken.”

“This law needs to change, and I’m committed to working with lawmakers this year to making more changes so our state can build the housing we desperately need,” he added.

His office offered no additional details Monday about what changes he wants to see — and how soon. The environmental law is often cited as a nuisance but overhauling it is seen as politically perilous. Often, the Legislature passes exemptions for specific projects like sports stadiums to speed development.

Last March, the University of California, Berkeley said it would have to cap student enrollment after the California Supreme Court sided with irate neighbors who sued over the school’s growth. State lawmakers fast-tracked a fix to allow the campus to enroll as many students as planned for the 2022 fall semester, but the legislation did nothing to produce more housing.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, said the appeals court ruling was “horrific” and would have major implications for housing in California because it classifies noise from people as an environmental impact.

“It introduces the idea that people are pollution,” Wiener said.

Click here to read the full article in the AP News


  1. Gavin Newscum is probably the one that put those anti-housing laws into effect in the first place. If he had his way we would still be locked in our homes and apts, not being able to visit our loved ones……..while he and his elitists are dining in Napa with no masks. Rules for THEE, but not for me!!!

  2. Really??? says

    CEQA was started by the Environmental Left. Until recently CEQA regulations state that if you wanted to do a development you had to make sure there was infrastructure to handle it. Most specifically it stated if “current roads, parking, and circulation” was not in, a developer would have to build it “before” developing the project.

    When the Dems decided illegals and welfare types were more important than workers and the middle class it all changed. Now they want significant government supported (your tax money) projects that are Stack’m & Pack’m housing. OPP’S all of a sudden CEQA was changed. CEQA no long demands off street parking, roads capable handling peak hour traffic, on street parking, etc. CEQA also had an air quality component that covers emissions

    Well dang now they want government housing, they want clean running cars, and they want you to give up what made California so attractive. To heck with local resources, to heck with enough water, to heck with housing that does not look like New York City, Baltimore….etc.

    As long as San Fran Nan, Schiffty, Slick and the rest can live in gated communities and not have to deal with high rise tenements that is fine with them.

    So let’s all go out and kill whales with ocean wind farms, and force people to live like 3 world types because reasonable and environmental gas plants are out of business.

    You voted Dem why?

    Not tired of runaway inflation? Energy costs you cannot afford? Choking roads…. get it?

    • Amy Sellers says

      Just got back from Rio where they built high rise projects that accommodate many people in the 90s. There is no parking and they are falling apart after 30 years. Is this really our solution? Blight for the future?

      • Really??? says

        Because of my background I used to visit population centers in the nation on a rotational basis (conventions). What you have described is what happened to Kansas City, Baltimore, Detroit, Frisco, and the list goes on. In the good old USA and the cities crumbled.

        The idiots that are handbook planners never get it. Yet you elect the same types that are called Democrats.

        At least the Republicans have the guts to dismiss their idiots …. The Luddites of the nation called Dem. don’t ever seem to get it until everything they touch turns to ash.

  3. john kindseth says

    Gov. Gruesome needs to take a break from fork King stuff up. He must lie awake thinking of stuff he can foul up. Leave us alone for a year and look at the improvements., !!!!!

    • Amy Sellers says

      Yeah, since the “Emergency is over as of 2/28/23 only the legislature should be forcing new laws on us.

  4. Sandra Braddock says

    The people living in CA must think that passing laws that enable criminals to steal as long as they keep their theft under $950 is okay. Thieves can go from store to store no problem, or penalty. It’s no wonder crime is up to the highest level ever in CA while the media keeps up the charade that it’s going down and all is well as long as democrats are in charge Producers are moving out while CA a sanctuary state for illegals let our of prisons around the world are flooding in. CA has the highest poverty level of any state, the homeless continue to move there for free everything while the citizens are treated like ATM machines on the hook for the brilliant ideas of one party rule marching towards being a third world state run by a dictator lecturing his subjects about democracy.

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