California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to reform a landmark state environmental law that he says was weaponized by wealthy homeowners to block badly needed housing for students at the University of California, Berkeley.
Newsom’s comments came after a state appeals court ruled that the university “failed to assess potential noise impacts from loud student parties in residential neighborhoods near the campus” as required by the California Environmental Quality Act. The housing complex would have housed about 1,100 Berkeley students and 125 formerly homeless people.
University officials said they planned to file an appeal with the California Supreme Court and continued to be committed to the project. The university termed the appeals court decision “unprecedented and dangerous” because it could prevent higher education institutions across the state from building student housing.
The environmental law is often cited by developers as a nuisance, but overhauling it is seen as politically perilous, according to an Associated Press report. One California lawmaker said the decision has the potential to be abused for a wide range of future housing project proposals.