Regulations Action Team

Problem Statement

  • While the state must continue to preserve environmental quality, workplace safety and consumer protection, California’s complex, difficult-to-navigate regulations are imposing unnecessary costs on businesses, taxpayers, and consumers.
  • Regulatory processes are excessively prescriptive and process-oriented—and over time many have departed significantly from their original legislative intent.
  • While the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) has strong benefits to ecosystems, public health, and environmental quality, the CEQA process has been misused, often substantially increasing costs of projects and hampering regional competitiveness.


Goal Statement

  • Strengthen California’s high environmental, worker-protection and public-standards safety, while turning regulations into a competitive advantage.
  • Develop technology-based systems to track applications at every step in the process.
  • Modify selected regulatory processes to improve accountability, transparency, consistency of process, and timeliness.
  • Create incentives for companies and industries that have voluntarily adopted best practices and higher environmental standards than required by law.
  • Measure customer satisfaction using an independently developed online system.
  • Maintain a focus on CEQA modernization by focusing on administrative and regulatory over legislative solutions; determine whether pilot tracking system can be implemented.


Action Team Co-Leads
Quay Hays, GROW Holdings, LLC

For a full list of Action Team members, click here. For the team’s 2012 accomplishments, see the Summit’s 2013 Year-End Summary Report.

Tracking Progress

Action Team

Goals for the Year

Progress update - September 1, 2015

Priority action identified in Summit Plan to Advance Prosperity in 2014:

Explore ways to open up government processes and make implementation of state regulations more efficient and economical.

SOAR Teams: Identify funding source and key partnerships for SOAR Teams (Streamline Our Agency Regulations) to identify regulatory processes, including CEQA and water transfers, that can be streamlined, have steps removed, or tracking-technology introduced.

""Customer-Satisfaction"" website: Develop an external, independent website to help agency executives and applicants understand what works and what can be improved in the regulatory process.

Sustainable communities: An opportunity for collaboration among four Action Teams emerged in January to include Summit ideas in a range of state actions on sustainable communities and environmental planning.

Update - July 29, 2014 CEQA: The leaders of five Summit action teams sent a letter to the Governor in July requesting that the Administration complete a peer review of a scheduled update of the CEQA Guidelines before they are released--and to include in that peer review process state agencies that are obligated to comply with these updated Guidelines. The letter was signed by leaders of the Regulations, Manufacturing, Capital, Infrastructure, and Housing action teams. Update - June 16, 2014 SOAR Teams: The Regulations team made a presentation to the leaders of the Department of Water Resources and State Water Resources Control Board in April, offering to deploy a Summit SOAR team to work with the water agencies on ways to streamline the water transfer process during the drought. The team also made a similar presentation to legislative staff and the governor’s office. Sustainable communities: The 2014-15 state budget includes several key provisions supported by the Summit, directing 35 percent of all future cap-and-trade revenues to transit, affordable housing, and sustainable communities--a source of funding totaling almost $1 billion annually. Update - April 5, 2014 SOAR Teams: In January, the Regulations team sent a letter to the governor offering to create two SOAR teams--a CEQA team and a water transfers team. Those teams have now been formed and are connecting with administration officials. The CEQA team submitted a letter to the governor's Office of Planning and Research in February outlining a set of recommendations for adding certainty and clarity to the CEQA process in OPR's soon-to-be-completed CEQA Guidelines. In April, the water transfer team began working with GO-Biz to connect to leaders of the governor's Drought Task Force. ""Customer-Satisfaction"" website: The Regulations team is reviewing a proposal covering the scope, costs, and other aspects of implementing a website. The second phase of the project will involve identifying funding for at least two years. Sustainable communities: The co-leads of the Regulations team signed a February 25 letter to the Governor and Legislative leaders outlining 11 Summit recommendations for aiming the state's expanding drought response at the triple bottom line. In March and April, Summit staff conducted briefings with aides to the authors of four water bonds, along with members of the governor's Drought Task Force. The Regulations team has developed a specific proposal for streamlining the water transfer process, and its SOAR team is preparing to work with the administration on implementation.
Regulations Team's 2013 Action Plan

1. Identify two to four candidate regulations for streamlining by SOAR (Streamline Our Agency Regulations) Teams.

Many regulations are well-intended and deliver good outcomes but the processes are opaque, difficult to navigate and lengthy. Mapping the process with both management and those responsible for implementing the regulation can result in better predictability, faster processes, and better outcomes.

• Work with the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) to identify specific regulations for streamlining. Assemble a team that will work, pro-bono, with agency management and rank-and-file employees on the regulation streamlining initiative.

• Assemble a team of experts with appropriate skill sets who will meet with the agency, become familiar with the steps in the process for the specific regulation, and make recommendations for improvements, including expanded use of technology.

Update - June 16, 2014: See update above November 8, 2013 Summit commitments:

• Identify candidates for streamlining: regulations: Commitments were made to help to identify candidate regulations for streamlining, including one commitment to raise this issue in San Gabriel Valley focus groups and another commitment to focus on the aerospace industry.

2. Develop a regulations tracking system to identify where, and with whom, a regulation sits in the process.

Applicants are concerned that, once an application is submitted, it falls into a ""black hole"" and it is impossible to determine where it is in the process.

• Work with GO-Biz on their plans for a pilot tracking system to ensure that it meets both agency and applicant needs.

• This effort may be tied to #1 above, where a tracking system can be implemented concurrently with a streamlining project.

Update - June 16, 2014: Summit members have connected with leaders in the Government Operations Agency, who are considering a project with enough activity to test the system. November 8, 2013 Summit commitments:

• Pilot tracking system: Commitments were made to work on developing a pilot tracking system.

3. Launch a ""customer satisfaction"" website.

Today there is no easy way for applicants or even agency management to know what works well or what is problematic in a permitting process. There is no feedback loop to tell management how regulatory processes can be improved.

• Outside of government, but with government assistance in its development, launch a web-based informational and ""customer satisfaction"" survey that will be viewed as fair and objective and provide useful information to both applicants and agency management.

• Identify the expertise and potential in-kind help for the development of the website.

• Raise private or foundation money to fund its development and operation for at least two years.

Update - June 16, 2014: See update above November 8, 2013 Summit commitments:

• ""Customer satisfaction"" website: Several action team members committed to helping develop a customer satisfaction website, which may necessitate raising private or foundation funds.

4. Continue push for CEQA modernization that provides certainty and fairness without reducing protection of the environment.

• Look at non-legislative improvements, such as a single CEQA application to promote consistency.

• Examine other administrative, legislative and regulatory means to improve the CEQA process.

• Determine if some or all portions of CEQA are candidates for SOAR Team work as outlined in #1 above.

Update - July 29, 2014: See update above November 8, 2013 Summit commitments:

• CEQA: Nearly a dozen commitments were made to continue work on CEQA modernization.

5. Open Data: Explore the use of technology to open up government processes.

A commitment to transparency as a priority and the availability of technology and its expanded use in government should provide citizens with greater transparency in how government works.

• Create better linkages between state and local government when both are involved in the same regulatory process

• Look at an open-data project in one state agency, such as Fish & Wildlife.

• Review best practices in California and elsewhere with an eye to scaling those that work and greater sharing of proven software programs.

• GO-Biz will add open data to their Streamlining Superstars program.

Update - June 16, 2014: The Regulations team has identified several potential partners interesting in piloting open data programs, including the Department of Public Health and the new Government Operations Agency. The team is documenting best practices in California. November 8, 2013 Summit commitments:

• Open data: More than a dozen commitments were made to further explore how data can improve government transparency for some of the team's implementation actions.