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Does CEQA Help or Hinder Orange County Homes for Sale?


The natural environment forms just one of the reasons people flock to Orange County. The year-round mild climate and daily sunshine means you rarely have to worry about the weather when you plan outdoor activities.

Yorba Linda is surrounded nature, hiking trails and many parks. Going to the beach is a short drive and the winter ski slopes and evergreen forests of Big Bear Lake are only a couple of hours away.

This coexistence of nature with suburban and urban development doesn’t happen by accident. Strict laws are in place to ensure that the air, trees, and wildlife aren’t overwhelmed by human habitation. Among those rules and regulations is CEQA. 


Passed in 1970, the California Environmental Quality Act requires state and local agencies to monitor private or government projects to determine their environmental impacts and to take steps to minimize or eliminate those impacts. This typically requires an initial project review that may turn into an environmental impact review (EIR). Projects may not be approved if its significant environmental impacts can’t be avoided. 


Detractors complain that CEQA increases the time and cost of home developments. The OC Register reports that California’s largest cities average 2.5 years to approve housing projects that require CEQA review. Opponents of a project can file lawsuits under CEQA to stop projects from breaking ground. About 40 OC court cases have been filed since 2009 under this act. Some of the results include the following:

  • A senior housing development planned in Tustin by the Catholic Diocese of Orange is three years into a legal battle that has kept the project land vacant.
  • After a significant delay, an Orange affordable-housing project continued but only after a settlement was reached between the developers and those initiating the lawsuit.
  • A judge denied a group’s lawsuit that demanded an EIR for just one left-turn signal at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Emerald Bay’s main entrance in Laguna Beach. 


According to BAE Urban Economics, a consulting practice, CEQA does its job of protecting the environment without hampering economic growth. The organization reveals that despite the rapid growth of population and development, the number of CEQA lawsuits has remained constant over the past 14 years. In addition, less than one percent of projects reviewed by CEQA face litigation. Costs to developers for completing CEQA reviews typically range from 0.025 to 0.5 percent of the project’s budget.

Brandywine Homes

Brandywine Homes is a private homebuilder located in Orange County. At the end of the day, we who work for the company, breathe the same air, enjoy the same sunshine, and play on the same beaches that all Orange County residents do. We have a personal interest in ensuring that the quality of our environment improves for the sake of our families and ourselves. So we do everything we can to follow rules and regulations like CEQA, which are designed to protect our natural surroundings.

If you want to see in person how our housing developments improve the quality of life for its residents, or want to check out the models of our Orange County homes for sale, please contact us.