Students Can No Longer Be Considered Environmental Nuisances Under CEQA Revisions

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Sacramento, CA – While Californians will have to wait for large scale CEQA reform, the Governor took aim at one specific high profile issue that lead to nationwide attention to the California seminal environmental law.

On Thursday, Governor Newsom signed into law Buffy Wicks (Senator -Oakland) legislation, AB 1307, which removes CEQA barriers to universities building new housing.

The legislation came in response to a court ruling in February of this year blocking UC Berkeley’s new housing for not assessing the noise impacts of college students living in an already populated area.

After that ruling, Governor Newsom and and legislators committed to changing the law to make it easier to build the housing the state desperately needs.

While they addressed that specific issue – more substantial CEQA reform will have to wait.

AB 1307 by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks passed without opposition in the legislation responding to the court decision that blocked a new affordable housing development at UC Berkeley.

Under this new law, residential noise will not be considered a significant environmental effect under CEQA. In addition, the bill eliminates the requirement that public universities consider alternatives to the location of housing projects, when specified requirements are met.

“California will not allow NIMBYism to take hold, blocking critically needed housing for years and even decades. I thank Assemblymember Wicks and all the legislative leaders for taking on the status quo and clearing the way for our state to build more affordable housing,” Governor Newsom said on Thursday.

“AB 1307 reestablishes over 50 years of CEQA precedent, and reaffirms that people are not pollution,” Assemblymember Wicks said.  “This will help UC Berkeley move forward with more than 1,200 units of housing, including 160 units for formerly homeless individuals. Just as importantly, AB 1307 provides more certainty for housing projects across the state, instead of more red tape and higher construction costs.”

The Governor’s office noted that earlier this year, Governor Newsom filed an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court urging it to overturn that decision and issued a statement in support of UC Berkeley’s plan to build much-needed student housing in People’s Park.

The Governor and the Legislature have invested and planned for $4 billion to provide grants for the CCCs, CSU, and UC to construct affordable student housing at below-market rates.

This includes $100 million in the 2022-23 Budget for the People’s Park project itself.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Walter Shwe

    I am glad that Governor Newsom called out NIMBYs by name. This is excellent legislation to prevent NIMBYs from weaponizing the CEQA for their highly selfish and elitist obstructionism.

    1. Tim Keller

      I was thinking the same thing…  I liked that he used the term…   but the statement “we will not allow NIMBYISM to take hold”…. yikes… that ship has sailed I think.   Its pretty well established.

          1. David Greenwald

            That goes too far for me and probably creates more problems in other areas than it solves in housing.

        1. Walter Shwe

          That goes too far for me and probably creates more problems in other areas than it solves in housing.
          How NIMBYs Hijacked CEQA

          California could learn from successful environmental review reform efforts in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New York.

          In Massachusetts, Chapter 40B serves as a more streamlined alternative to California’s RHNA program, ensuring ministerial permitting for mixed-income housing. In Minnesota, comprehensive plans—i.e. general plans—are exempt from environmental review, as are rezonings adopted in compliance. In New York, anonymous environmental lawsuits are prohibited, standing requirements are higher, and municipalities may adopt local procedures better suited to their needs.


  2. Walter Shwe

    INHO the entire California NIMBY movement has always been a complete and utter sham. NIMBY obstructionists must be wiped off the playing field before this State can fix its dire housing crisis. Our great State is now on the decline. NIMBYs are one of the chief causes. There is really no other way out of this monumental housing mess.

  3. Walter Shwe

    Even the least expensive areas of California are becoming less affordable, and more desirable


    Still, every California area listed in RentCafe’s report was more expensive than the U.S. average.



    It all comes back to housing scarcity and the resulting unaffordability. This directly contradicts what NIMBYs repeatedly falsely assert.

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