In the wake of last year’s Coyote Creek flood and near catastrophic failure of Oroville Dam’s spillway, the importance of expediting flood protection and dam safety projects has never been so evident. Unfortunately, the state regulatory process can often result in significant delays for these critically needed projects. Senator Jim Beall has introduced Senate Bill (SB) 1301, a bill that aims to cut through the red tape for high-priority projects that protect human life and safety.
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that state agencies review and comment on projects, but they are woefully understaffed to conduct these reviews, resulting in significant delays in permit applications. SB 1301 would expedite permitting for projects that reduce risk to human life and safety through flood and mudslide risk reduction.
This is no end-run around environmental compliance. The expedited projects would still be required to have a completed CEQA review. This bill would merely expedite the permit process for these life safety projects.
Santa Clara Valley Water District is proud to sponsor Senator Beall’s bill. If passed, it would likely help expedite our project to provide long-term flood protection along Coyote Creek and to initiate the construction of the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project. The bill could also help expedite permits for the South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Project, which aims to reduce tidal flooding risk along the southern shores of the San Francisco Bay. Improvements to high hazard dams across the state with capacity restrictions due to seismic concerns would also be prioritized, as well as projects in watersheds impacted by wildfires. Each of these projects meet the criteria described in the bill.
It’s not too early to call or write your state legislators to encourage a “yes” vote on this important legislation.