Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign Assembly Bill 1197 which would exempt any Los Angeles shelter or homeless housing project that receives state or local funding from the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”).  CEQA calls for environmental review of the environmental impacts of a proposed project that requires agency discretionary approval. Proposals to build housing projects are the type that typically require CEQA compliance.

However, with this new bill, these types of projects would be automatically exempt until 2025.  The intention is to bypass valuable time spent on preparing the CEQA environmental document and the resulting lawsuits that often result said document.

This bill, authored by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, is mostly seeking to address the rising homelessness issue in Los Angeles.  According to Santiago, homeless shelters and housing weren’t being built quick enough.  Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti declared an emergency shelter crisis in April 2018.

Allowing project to bypass the arduous CEQA process should encourage developers to build housing to address the homeless need quickly.  The legislative session ended Friday, September 13, 2019, and Assembly Bill 1197 is expected to be reviewed by the Governor during the next session.