Rules and Regulations• The Statute Public Resources Code §§ 21000-21178 (PRC)• The Guidelines California Code of Regulations Title 14, §15000 et seq. (CCR)• The Courts Ongoing court decisions (Case law)
Introduction to CEQA• 1969: President Nixon signs National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)• 1970: Governor Reagan signs California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)• CEQA (the Statute): Established by Legislature …and continuously modified by Legislature …and “interpreted” by the Courts
Basic Purposes of CEQA1. Inform government decision makers and the public about the potential significant environmental impacts of proposed activities2. Identify ways that environmental impact(s) can be avoided or significantly reduced
Basic Purposes of CEQA (cont.) 1. Prevent significant avoidable damage to the environment by requiring changes in the project through the use of alternatives and mitigation 3. Disclose to the public the reason that an agency approved a project notwithstanding its environmental impacts
Knowing Your Role 1) Lead Agency 2) Responsible Agency 3) Trustee Agency 4) Public Interest Groups 5) Joe the plumber 6) Unions 7) Consultants
Who is “in charge” of CEQA? Lead Agency CEQA is a “Self-executing Statute” meaning it is the Lead-Agency’s duty to determine what is and is not subject to CEQA, and to follow the process. Public can go through the legal process (suing) to challenge decisions
CEQA’s Impact on the Planning ProcessPerfect planning often has not so perfect impacts….
CEQA and the PublicCEQA is the bridge between the hardsciences and the public.Technical studies will need to cater topublic understandingOften, site plans, engineeringdrawings will need to be simplified forCEQA purposes
Common CEQA ProjectsResidentialCommercialTransportation projectsWater and energy infrastructure
Planning Related CEQAProjects SOI Amendments Annexations Specific Plans General Plans Climate Action Plans Habitat Conservation Plans Regional Transportation Plans Anything with a “plan” after it…
CEQA and Planning Master or Program EIR Environmental Constraints Analysis Permitting Thresholds Appendix G Resources Significant Thresholds Significant Unavoidable Impacts Air Quality - Construction Schedules Traffic Impacts- LOS
Appendix G ChecklistQuestion Example Biological Resources Would the project: A) Have a substantial adverse effect, either directly or through habitat modifications, on any species identified as a candidate, sensitive, or special status species in local or regional plans, policies, or regulations or by the California Dept of Fish and Game or US Fish and Wildlife?
Stakeholders and Public Participation Everyone has the right to be heard…
Scoping ProcessRequired for EIR’s not for IS/MND’sRequired when:3) Roadway project4) Statewide, regional, or areawide significanceIf they comment you must address or discuss why it wasn’t warranted. This must be supported by fact!
Scoping ProcessDuring these 30 days, a scoping meeting may be held to identify key environmental concerns and issues Identify possible impacts Encourage inter-agency consultation Consult with recognized experts Involve public at an early stage of the review process (though not required)
Public Comment Process IS/MND 30 Days EIR 45 Days All comments have to be considered. Respond to those only commenting the EIR not the project.
Common CEQA Challenges Challenging the Process not the Project Noticing of hearings Comment periods Document dump Late comment strategy Disagreement among experts Fair argument mine field
Common CEQA Challenges Regulatory or Responsible agency choices not to comment during the NOP but then demands more analysis Unwarranted Data Requests Asserting that an EIR is warranted because of “controversy”.
Example ProjectsThe good the bad and the impacts
Elk Grove SOI EIR SOI Amendment South of City Almost exclusively AG. Adjacent to Wildlife Preserve Adjacent to Flood Zone South Sac HCP Incredibly Controversial
Concrete Batch Plant- Merced Openly Non-Union Contractor Previous Project Challenged and Lost Out of State Consultant Hired to Challenge EIR Five hours of public comments County to prepare Focused EIR
Bell Village IS/MND Infill Mixed Use Project Commercial Center Multi Family Housing Adjacent to HWY 101 Groundwater Contaminated Site Roadway and Pedestrian Improvements
Helpful WebsitesCEQA Statute and Guidelineshttp://ceres.ca.gov/ceqa/Land Use Planning Information Network (LUPIN)http://ceres.ca.gov/planning/index.html California Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP) http://www.califaep.org/
Questions? Contact Information: Trevor MacenskiMichael Brandman Associates 2000 “O” Street, Suite 200 Sacramento, CA 95811 916-447-1100 firstname.lastname@example.org