By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– In a rare meeting on Friday with state legislators from around the Inland Empire, San Bernardino County 1st District Supervisor Robert A. Lovingood called for regulatory reform and urged officials to create a business friendly environment to help grow jobs and spur California’s economy.
Joined by other members of the Board of Supervisors, Lovingood noted that average business costs in California are 19 percent higher than the national average; 10 percent higher than the average for all Western states; and 16 percent higher than those for firms in large industrial states. These costs can be attributed to energy and labor costs as well regulatory requirements, including the California Environmental Quality Act.
The basic purpose of CEQA was to protect the environment and ensure that development does the same. However, Lovingood said, unintended consequences of CEQA have resulted in frivolous lawsuits that gridlocked critical affordable housing, schools, renewable energy projects, hospital and other projects that are needed to grow the economy and improve the environment.
An analysis of all published CEQA courts decisions from 1997 to 2012 indicated: 59% of challenged projects identified as either infill or greenfield were infill development projects; More than a third of projects challenged were public works projects; The most commonly challenge type of projects involve public infrastructure.
Lovingood said that it is imperative to modernize CEQA by eliminating duplication, focus litigation on compliance with environmental and planning laws and re-evaluate the statutory and categorical exemptions to allow the streamlining of projects.
He noted that the County is doing its part to improve the economy and is co-sponsoring a bill this session that will strike a perfect balance between generating jobs and improving the environment. The bill, initiated by Lovingood, would encourage renewable energy facilities on mining sites, thereby protecting pristine desert terrain. And mine operators would benefit from being able to site renewable energy projects on mine sites by reducing energy costs, offsetting emissions, or generating additional revenue.
California cannot afford to continue its current harsh stance toward job creators. Between 1995 and 2010, 300,000 people left California, and they took with them nearly $32 billion in adjusted gross income, according to author Travis Brown’s “How Money Walks.” The bottom line is that people and businesses are moving to low tax, low regulation states.
During the meeting with the Inland Empire Caucus, other issues included public safety, including the ongoing implementation of prison realignment, which sends low level offenders to county jail instead of state prison, court funding, economic development, regulatory reform, and improving health care.