Legislators got the right result by the wrong process when they approved an expedited judicial review for AEG's much-discussed downtown Los Angeles football stadium. The project is too important, and the state's system for reviewing such projects too flawed, to allow procedure to stand in the way of progress. Nevertheless, it's bad policy to offer special treatment to certain projects; it raises questions of favoritism and corruption to have the Legislature engage proposals one at a time rather than passing laws that apply equally to all.
That's why the next business of this Legislature needs to be a comprehensive review of the California Environmental Quality Act. Now more than 30 years old, CEQA is the mainstay of the state's vaunted environmental protection regime. It is a sweeping, if somewhat dated, testament to California's determination to preserve a "high-quality environment that at all times is healthful and pleasing to the senses and intellect of man." To achieve those noble goals, CEQA requires the proponent of a project to examine its environmental consequences, and demands that the reviewing agency produce an environmental impact report. The report must either assert that there are no significant environmental impacts (a "negative declaration") or identify them and propose ways to mitigate them.