Listen to this post

LegislationOn August 26, Governor Brown signed SB 734 into law, extending by two years the sunset date of the Jobs and Economic Improvement Through Environmental Leadership Act of 2011 (the “Act”) – from January 1, 2017 to January 1, 2019 – and making two significant changes to the Act.

The Act, codified at Public Resources Code sections 21178-21189.3, promotes environmentally sustainable development having significant economic benefits by providing for streamlined judicial review of “environmental leadership development projects.” Such leadership projects include certain residential, commercial, cultural, sports, and recreational projects located at infill sites that (1) are certified as LEED Silver or better, (2) result in a minimum investment of $100 million in California, (3) create high-wage, highly skilled jobs that pay prevailing wages and living wages, and help reduce unemployment, and (4) do not result in any net additional emission of greenhouse gases.

Projects certified by the governor as leadership projects are entitled to expedited judicial review of any challenge to the project under CEQA: all trial court and appellate court proceedings must be completed within 270 days. Normally, those proceedings consume between two and-a-half and four years.

So far, six projects – including the new Golden State Warriors Arena in San Francisco – have been certified as leadership projects. Originally, the Act was set to expire on January 1, 2017. SB 734 extends the Act for an additional two years, allowing the governor to certify leadership projects through January 1, 2018, and extending the time for project approval through January 1, 2019.

SB 734 also amends the Act by (1) requiring that contractors and subcontractors pay prevailing wages to all construction workers on leadership projects, and creating an enforcement mechanism to ensure that those prevailing wages are actually paid, and (2) requiring that any multifamily residential leadership project provide unbundled parking (i.e., parking spaces that are rented or purchased separately from housing units), unless it is an affordable housing project subject to legal requirements that do not allow such unbundling.