Improving State Permitting for Local Climate Change Adaptation Projects


Report #238, June 2017


In this report, the Commission calls for reducing unnecessary bureaucratic delays in state permitting of local government projects designed to improve California’s resiliency against climate change.

During its review, the Commission found that local governments designing and constructing projects to protect Californians from the threat of climate change have landed on a collision course with the state’s complicated permitting process intended to protect the environment.

The Commission recommends simple solutions that could save time and resources at both levels of government: formalize a “big table” approach to establish multi-agency communication early in the process; require state permitting agencies to develop “cookbooks,” detailed guides for expectations and requirements for permit applications; and, when progress fails, particularly for large and complex infrastructure projects, establish a formal dispute resolution process. The Commission also encourages state permitting departments to use existing flexibility on endowments that can require local governments to set aside millions of dollars upfront to maintain mitigation habitat.