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CEQA addresses rural, urban issues

In defense of CEQA against current political pressure to loosen its provisions with respect to housing (AP’s report, April 4), I would observe that the law addresses not only rural, but urban environmental concerns. It is a vital tool with which citizens may attempt to remind representatives and municipal planners of their broader stewardship and responsibilities, often forgotten or in the hurly-burly local politics and inevitable horse-trading.

Invocation of CEQA by citizens would probably be much reduced if authorities developed research and evaluation of the underlying data for a jurisdiction’s General Plan more diligently, pursued public education and involvement in the preparation of the General Plan more conscientiously, and were more explicit about defining the ‘rules of the game’ of local planning and approval. Too often the ‘rules’ simply aren’t: a charter city, such as Grass Valley, has few legal obligations to actually follow its General Plan. Too frequently the ‘rules’ are opaque or vulnerable to reinterpretation convenient to the monied, profit-motivated developer. Planners and contribution-hungry politicians are generally interested in planning as development.

Long-term rural and urban environmental issues (e.g., future density, traffic, adequacy of infrastructure, habitat) have few advocates other than the concerned citizen. CEQA protects us all.

Howie Muir

Nevada County