Budget surpluses may be a thing of the past, but Governor Gavin Newsom can still initiate massive new investments in state infrastructure—if he can cut enough red tape to deliver the projects when they’re needed.
Facing the daunting prospect of spending an unprecedented $180 billion for public and energy infrastructure over the next decade, the Governor has proposed a far-reaching permit and litigation streamlining initiative aimed at cutting the delays and costs that have been endemic to California public facilities development.
The Governor described the proposal as “the most ambitious effort to cut red tape and streamline regulations in half a century. It’s time to make the most out of taxpayer dollars and deliver results while creating hundreds of thousands of good jobs.”
The goals set out by the Governor include cutting project timelines by more than three years, saving businesses and state and local governments hundreds of millions of dollars in project development costs, and reducing paperwork by hundreds of thousands pages.
The California Chamber of Commerce embraced these goals, commending Governor Newsom for his ambitious and timely proposals to expedite public works projects and housing in California, both of which are necessary for the state’s economic development.
“California’s economy will benefit from the reforms and permit streamlining the Governor outlined,” said CalChamber President and CEO Jennifer Barrera. “We are grateful for the opportunity to work together to bring more critical infrastructure projects to life. We are also happy to hear about CEQA reforms that will help expedite all necessary development in the state.”
Comprising 11 separate pieces of legislation, an executive order, and high expectations set by and for the Administration, the infrastructure initiative would:
- Expedite court review of projects by putting legal challenges on a fast-track for resolution, without minimizing the environmental analytical and mitigation requirements.
- Accelerate permitting for certain projects.
- Speed up construction procurement processes that drive delays and increase costs.
- Eliminate some of the massive paperwork retention and review requirements that delay project approvals without providing transparency or analytical benefits.
The executive order will create a Strike Team that will report to the Governor’s Office to task a multitude of state agencies to identify high priority infrastructure projects and hold agencies accountable for streamlining their permitting and coordinating review among departments.
Developments in these issue areas will be prioritized: transportation, energy, water, hydrogen, environmental mediation, broadband, zero-emission vehicles and the federal CHIPS and Sciences Act. Funding and permit streamlining will be focused in these areas.
The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) is tasked with coordinating relevant state agencies to work with local governments and tribal authorities to streamline permitting for energy facilities.
Next steps will be rapid consideration by the Legislature of the just-introduced legislation, anticipated to be fast-tracked as part of the overall state budget negotiations.
Contact: Loren Kaye