Don't dilute CEQA, improve it

I remember life before the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. I grew up in Altadena and Pasadena during the late 1930s and '40s. All too often I awoke to thick smog and air quality warnings. 

I watched as segments of the San Gabriel Valley shifted from orange groves to miles upon miles of housing, and communities were cut in half by an ever-expanding network of freeways.

By 1970, Gov. Ronald Reagan and a Republican-led Legislature realized that something had to be done. The Golden State was in danger of losing its luster. A disastrous oil spill in 1969 had marred the Santa Barbara coastline. Air quality continued to suffer throughout the Los Angeles Basin. And agricultural land was lost to development. In response to these concerns, the legislators in Sacramento passed the California Environmental Quality Act, and Reagan signed it.

Now, at the request of developers and business interests, state lawmakers are debating whether to weaken CEQA. Leaders should approach such amendments with great caution and take care to defend the law's core provisions. This landmark law has played a fundamental role in protecting air and water quality, public health and our state's incomparable natural areas.

Read full text at LA Times