The Impact of the California Environmental Quality Act on Hotel Development

By Larry K. Kimball Director of Hotel Development, C. W. Clark, Inc. | June 11, 2010

If you are not developing a project in California and think this article is irrelevant, keep reading because the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA") is the model for future regulations in your jurisdiction. We will highlight how CEQA shapes development projects but more importantly how politicians, organized labor, and environmentalists often leverage the CEQA approval process to further their self-interests at the expense of developers and communities.

CEQA Rules the Approval Roost

While the applicability of CEQA to a proposed project is not always automatic, if discretionary approvals from state and local public agencies are needed then prudent developers should increase their development budgets for higher costs from legal fees, consultants, focused community outreach programs, and hard construction costs. Likewise, operating pro-forma should include ongoing compliance costs which will reduce operating margins and subsequent project valuations.

An environmental review under CEQA guidelines includes science but the interpretation is an art. "The fundamental purpose of the Guidelines is to make the CEQA process comprehensible to those who administer it, to those subject to it, and to those for whose benefit it exists. To that end, the Guidelines are more than mere regulations which implement CEQA as they incorporate and interpret both the statutory mandates of CEQA and the principles advanced by judicial decisions. (1)" For all math-inclined readers, (Regulations + case law) * interpretation = CEQA.

It is beyond the scope of this article to present and discuss the Guidelines. Rest assured, it is a growing body of work. The latest amendment, effective March 18, 2010, addresses the new CEQA step of determining the significance of impacts from greenhouse gas emissions (2) from a project. As you close your eyes and imagine, an evolving art form will be future interpretations of this by agencies leading a CEQA review aided, of course, by a cottage industry of consultants.

A more interesting issue is how is the CEQA approval process used by stakeholders to advance their agenda. A couple of examples will follow to illustrate this mix.

Choose a Social Network!

The social network you are looking for is not available.

Close

Hotel Newswire Headlines Feed  

Marina Blickley
Joseph Ricci
Arthur Weissman
Kenny Lee
Tina Stehle
Jennifer Nagy
Stacy Shaw
Bill Kotrba
Simon Hudson
Robert King
Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.