Devon MutoIn my message at the beginning of this year, I summarized AEP’s legislative program, and it turned out to be timely as this year has been busy with activity from our legislature, the courts, and OPR. I hope that you are able to keep up with all the activity, which we are summarizing in our monthly eblasts. As a quick recap, our legislative committee has been actively engaged in a number of bills this year, including our opposition to SB 469 (Wireless Telecom Facilities), support of AB 890 (Local Land Use Initiatives), and heavy involvement in SB 80 (CEQA Notices), SB 771 (Public Employee Education), and AB 1404 (Unincorporated Areas Infill Exemption). Our committee has been meeting at least monthly and, in March, a contingent of us spent two days at the Capitol in over 15 meetings with our legislators, their staff, and OPR. Legislative committee members Bill Halligan and Betty Dehoney joined me in giving a presentation to 30 staffers from the legislature and agencies on CEQA and current issues.

We have produced 11 court case summaries and those summaries, the full court decision, and other supporting documents are available on the CEQA Portal (https://ceqaportal.org/). Possibly the most watched of those was the most recent, which was from Supreme Court on the SANDAG RTP/SCS 2050 GHG threshold. Other cases that I found of particular interest were Sierra Club v. Sonoma County (differentiating ministerial permits from discretionary), Altos Council v. Santa Cruz County (CEQA review of zoning ordinance amendments), and Banning Ranch Conservancy v. Newport Beach (defining ESHAs).

We have also been coordinating with OPR, who also has a lot going on this year with the imminent release of the comprehensive CEQA Guidelines Update (which includes the SB 743 guidelines updates). Our next major event, the AEP Institute, which is a focused one-day workshop on SB 743, included substantial involvement by OPR and is right around the corner. The Institute is stacked full of specialists that are going to take a deep dive into how traffic planning and analysis will evolve and will certainly be an informative day that is not to be missed. Registration is still open and you can obtain more details here: https://www.califaep.org/workshops/aep-institute. Many thanks to Marie Campbell for heading up the planning and coordination for this year’s Institute.

Another Successful Conference and NEPA Workshop Series!

As usual, the AEP management and Board have been hard at work bringing you fantastic programs. In May, we held our annual conference in San Francisco and it was a blast. The sessions were diverse and well organized, the speakers were relevant and insightful, the events were fun and well attended, and the friends and colleagues came to learn, mingle, and party. A special thanks to the Bay Area Chapter for hosting and Steve Noack for his leadership. You will find more highlights from the conference in this edition of the Monitor.

We also recently completed another successful series of NEPA Basics Workshops. This year we decided to focus the workshop back on the basics and, in October, we will be piloting a new series of Advanced NEPA Workshops in collaboration with NAEP (our national affiliate).

What’s Next?

I already mentioned the Institute and Advanced NEPA Workshops. Our CEQA Essentials Workshops will also be held in early November. I am sure our legislative program will be busy as well. The legislature is currently on recess, but many bills and priorities remain in play. We also will soon have our Board retreat, which is a day for the AEP Board to focus on our strategies of how to improve the organization over the next couple for years. I am excited to get some good ideas from the Board and report back to our members on our next initiatives. Please don’t hesitate to contact me or your chapter representative if you have any suggestions.

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their summer!

Devon Muto
AEP President