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Idaho-based engineered lumber maker RedBuilt, which acquired equipment and processes from Standard Structures in August 2011, finally wound down operations at the Windsor plant at the end of May.

RedBuilt had looked to use the 45,000-square-foot I-joist production building fronting on Highway 101 to make Standard Structures-specialty finger-joint materials for other RedBuilt plants, but the scale of the Windsor facility would make in hours enough to supply three plants for a while, according to plant manager David Fabbrini.

[caption id="attachment_74201" align="alignright" width="360"] Standard Structures' former I-joist production facility in Windsor, picked up by RedBuilt in 2011, was finally vacated in May. (image credit: Jeff Quackenbush)[/caption]

That helped make operating the Windsor plant not cost-effective for RedBuilt, he said.

RedBuilt had retained the equipment in the facility for the option of producing in Northern California, but the West Coast market doesn't support it, according to Ted Osterberger, senior vice president of operations for commercial resources.

Though a resurgence of construction is bringing a surge in demand for RedBuilt's products, the previous dramatic scaling back of lumber as the industry shrank is causing wood materials prices to spike, compressing profits. Suppliers have been going as far as securing trees baked in forest fires or killed by beetles, but OK'd for engineered lumber.

Mr. Fabbrini joined Standard Structures in 2000, when it was among Sonoma County's largest employers. He went to RedBuilt as part of the sale but has been among the only employees working from Windsor for a while.

RedBuilt has a four-person design team in Windsor, and they'll remain there, according to Mr. Osterberger.

On Thursday, he sold off the last piece of equipment and was preparing to leave the company as he turned over the keys to building owner and Standard Structures founder Dick Caletti on Friday.***

Out of nearly 30 pieces of legislation in Sacramento aimed at reforms of the California Environmental Quality Act, two major approaches to the 43-year-old law survived the committee cut in late May. Aiming to bolster and strengthen CEQA's provisions is Senate Bill 617 by Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa.

One of the key provisions would require evaluation of environmental impacts beyond the a projects impacts to the effects of larger-scale environmental change such as sea-level rise. The California Chamber of Commerce has called it a "job killer."

She also sponsored a bill -- SB 754 -- that would prevent new environmental review documents to draw from more general reports more than seven years old, a method known as "tiering," remove a cap on mitigation of archaeological impacts and allow lawsuits based on mitigation nonperformance.

The state Legislative Analyst Office said SB 754 also could add hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in costs for preparing new EIRs statewide. The bill was held in the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 23.

Another major CEQA reform bill survivor for the current session is SB 731, by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo.

A key part of the bill seeks to keep protections for the environment while reducing project delays and costs by limiting the scope of review for impacts from projects in "transit-priority areas" to noise, transportation and parking and considering aesthetics to be not a significant factor. The state Office of Planning & Research, which manages local long-range planning and CEQA standards, would create "thresholds of significance" for noise, transportation and parking.

That would make help make CEQA review more predictable from one jurisdiction to the next,according to Cynthia Murray of North Bay Leadership Council, which has been participating in the state CEQA Working Group project (CEQAWorkingGroup.com) to collect information and case studies on needed reforms to CEQA.

Other critics say getting the OPR involved for the thresholds would likely delay that key reform for years, based on the time to develop thresholds for other CEQA factors such as greenhouse-gas emissions.

"It's not anywhere where we wanted it, but it is a good step in the right direction," Ms. Murray said.

Other significant provisions in SB 731 are:Limit legal standing for parties to sue and require disclosure of who was backing them.Require a bond for lawsuits under CEQA and level sanctions for actions deemed frivolous.Tighten standards for evidence on whether CEQA studies aren't in compliance with the law.Exempt certain projects in areas already studied under specific plans and other previous wider-area planning documents in the past several years.

One of the case studies posted on the CEQA Working Group website is filmmaker George Lucas' scuttled proposal last year to build a large digital movie studio on his Grady Ranch property on Lucas Valley Road northwest of San Rafael. Mr. Lucas cited appeals of and suggested lawsuit over the environmental-review process for the project in his decision to not build the project. However, Mr. Lucas sold his film businesses to Walt Disney Co. at the end of last year, keeping the property and proposing to build affordable housing....Send items for this column to jquackenbush@busjrnl.com or call 707-521-4256.