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According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, a 2008 state law that encourages transit oriented development is starting to bear some fruit in the form of a 156-unit housing and commercial project proposed near a new trolley line in the Clairemont neighborhood about ten miles north of downtown San Diego. The law is set up to accelerate construction timelines by streamlining environmental approvals.

The law allows developers to skip the expensive and time-consuming analysis usually required under the California Environmental Quality Act. Developers save millions because they’re only required to conduct a cursory CEQA review.

Council members said this could be the first of many projects along the new trolley line to take advantage of the state law, which has been used many times in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. “We haven’t moved forward with an exemption like this before because there’s not many sites that meet all of the criteria,” Sara Osborn, a senior planner for the city, told council members on Tuesday.

Those criteria include being within a half-mile of transit, using water efficiently, not impacting historical structures, not reducing affordable housing and many others. “It’s exciting to see the first one in San Diego,” Council President Georgette Gómez said. Councilman Scott Sherman said the city needs to use SB 375 more frequently.

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