Update: CEQA bill goes to Governor’s Desk, Kings fans declared the most powerful lobby in Sacramento

Senator Steinberg’s homage to basketball and infill development, SB 743, concluded its meteoric journey though the halls of California’s Capitol last night. It now goes to the Governor’s desk, where all signs point to a signature.

As Streetsblog noted this morning, SB 743 does include several key provisions from the shelved SB 731 that will make it easier to gain CEQA approval for infill development, as well as bike lanes and transit projects.

Here’s a quick rundown of what SB 743 does –

* Eliminates Level of Service (LOS) definitively in transit priority areas (TPAs) and leaves plenty of room for OPR to eliminate it statewide as well. This is a big win for advocates of bike lanes, bus rapid transit, and other projects that reclaim public space for people instead of cars. It will also eliminate an important bias has, for years, punished infill development while rewarding sprawl.

* Expands CEQA streamlining for projects in TPAs that are consistent with an adopted specific plan that has already undergone CeQA review. Previously, only residential projects were eligible for this streamlining. SB 743 expands that streamlining to mixed-use, commercial and employment center projects as well. This was a last-minute change that was never in SB 731, but had been pushed by the Governors office for several months. This little-noticed provision could have far-reaching consequences, good and bad, as it makes it easier to build everything from supermarkets to office buildings in these areas.  This provision is particularly worrisome because this bill shelves the anti-displacement protections in SB 731 that would have helped spotlight impacts to existing low-income residents in these areas.

* Tightens up the definition of TPAs to address concerns that highway corridors with long-distance commuter bus service could have slipped in under the old definition.

* And, of course, greatly limits legal challenges that would slow down the construction of  new stadium for the Sacramento Kings in downtown Sacramento. Proving once and for all that while California Dems love championing environmental protection, they love snubbing those soggy interlopers from Seattle even more.

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