The California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, has been a powerful weapon used against developers for a long time. The law requires developers to submit an environmental impact report and allows anyone who doesn’t like the analysis to challenge it.

In August, though, the California Supreme Court created a way for developers to bypass CEQA by getting approval through a ballot initiative. The court also ruled that if a developer gathered enough signatures to get their project on the ballot, a city council could  approve the project without going to voters – and that’s exactly what happened in Carlsbad.

Caruso Affiliated, the developer behind the Agua Hedionda Lagoon shopping center, scored enough signatures to get its project in front of the Carlsbad City Council. City council approved the project, but opponents are fighting back.

In this week’s San Diego Explained, Voice of San Diego’s Maya Srikrishnan and NBC 7’s Monica Dean discuss CEQA, the controversial development in Carlsbad and detail raising concerns over whether it’s appropriate for development decisions to be taken to the ballot.

Amanda Rhoades is a reporting intern for Voice of San Diego. You can get in contact with her by phone or email at 619-550-5672 or

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