State Permitting

Study Schedule


Thursday, February 23, 2017
9:30 a.m., California State Capitol
Room 437

Public Hearing

Agendas are posted two weeks prior to their hearing date.

Description of Study

The Little Hoover Commission is reviewing California’s state agency permitting requirements and how they impact the timeliness and viability of natural resource projects planned by government agencies and special districts at the local and regional level.  The Commission is particularly interested in public projects that are increasingly necessary to protect California residents, wildlife and environments – both natural and human-altered – from the anticipated impacts of climate change.  The study will examine state permitting timelines and processes, as well as requirements for endowments to fund perpetual maintenance of lands established for environmental mitigation purposes.  Requirements for endowments, also used by federal agencies, are a relatively recent addition to state permitting laws.  

The Commission has heard testimony from some public agencies that endowment requirements and long, unpredictable timelines to receive permits due to inadequate state agency staffing are adding months or years to project schedules, as well as driving up costs.  Representatives of public agencies contend that endowment requirements of several million dollars remove large one-time sums from annual budgets and limit their ability to allocate taxpayer dollars effectively.  Several have tried seeking exemptions through the legislative process.

Land trusts and other supporters of required endowments maintain that endowments, as a permitting mechanism, are essential to fund long-term mitigation land management, especially in volatile financial environments in which public agency budgets can vary dramatically year-to-year.  There is additional concern that waiving certain requirements for public agencies could create an uneven playing field in environmental mitigation land projects.  The issue has received considerable legislative attention in recent years.  The Commission intends to provide recommendations that improve state permitting processes, especially given the anticipated need for flexibility and faster action on climate change adaptation projects.

If you would like more information regarding this review, please contact executive director Carole D'Elia at carole.d' or at 916-445-2125.  To be notified electronically of meetings, events, or when the review is complete, please send a request to

Click here for a list of additional previous studies on general government.