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2012 ceqa presentation for ce class


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CEQA introduction for Engineers

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2012 ceqa presentation for ce class

  1. 1. California Environmental Quality ActTrevor Macenski- Principal/ Director of Environmental Services- MBA/ First Carbon Solutions
  2. 2. 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)
  3. 3. CEQA LingoCEQA: California Environmental Quality Act IS: Initial Study ND: Negative Declaration NOP: Notice of Preparation of EIR EIR: Environmental Impact ReportDEIR: Draft EIRFEIR: Final EIR NOC: Notice of CompletionNOD: Notice of Determination NOA: Notice of Availability
  4. 4. 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
  5. 5. Introduction to CEQA (cont.)• Initially intended to apply to publicly- sponsored projects only• 1972: Friends of Mammoth v. Board of Supervisors:  CEQA applies to ‘all’ projects subject to public agency discretionary action
  6. 6. 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
  7. 7. Basic Purposes of CEQA1. Inform government decision makers and the public about the potential significant environmental impacts of proposed activities.2. Identify ways that environmental impact(s) can be avoided or significantly reduced.
  8. 8. Basic Purposes of CEQA (cont.) 3. Prevent significant avoidable damage to the environment by requiring changes in the project through the use of alternatives and mitigation 4. Disclose to the public the reason that an agency approved a project notwithstanding its environmental impacts
  9. 9. The CEQA Process(It can be a lengthy one!)
  10. 10. CEQA Process Overview • An action is brought forth to the Lead Agency • Is it a “project” or is it “exempt”? • If subject to CEQA, what are the potential impacts? (prepare an Initial Study) • Based on initial study, what type of CEQA document do you need? (Neg Dec, MND, EIR?) • Prepare appropriate environmental document • Public reviews and comments on document • Decision and findings made on the project
  11. 11. What is a “project” under CEQA? • Comply with CEQA when you have a “project.” • Project: activity undertaken by a public agency or a private activity which may cause a change in the environment and must receive discretionary approval from a government agency.
  12. 12. Discretionary vs. Ministerial Projects• Discretionary projects (CEQA)  Tentative maps  General plans  Conditional use permits• Ministerial projects (no CEQA)  Demolition permits  Building permits
  13. 13. Typical CEQA Projects Residential Commercial Transportation projects Water and energy infrastructure
  14. 14. Exemptions to CEQA• Statutory  Activities exempted from all or part of CEQA by the State Legislature regardless of impacts (policy decision)• Categorical  Classes of projects which are exempted from CEQA because they typically do not have significant impacts (there are exceptions)
  15. 15. Statutory Exemption Examples Article 18 • 1984 L.A. Olympic games • Family day care homes • Specified mass transit projects • State and regional transportation improvement programs • Projects located outside California • Certain pipeline work • Air quality permits • Ministerial projects • Emergency projects • Other miscellaneous per CCR §15282
  16. 16. Categorical Exemptions Article 19• Classes of projects that do not have a significant impact on the environment• Not applicable when cumulative impact is significant or when there is a potential significant impact due to unusual circumstances  Scenic highways  Hazardous waste sites  Historical resources
  17. 17. Categorical Exemptions• Existing facilities • Surplus property sales• Reconstruction • Land acquisition for wildlife conservation• Small structures • Minor additions to school• Minor alterations to land • Minor land divisions or land use • Transfer of ownership for• Actions by regulatory parks agencies for natural resources protection or • Total of 33 categories protection of the outlined in section environment 15301 of Guidelines
  18. 18. Notice of Exemption• If your “project” is exempt, a Notice of Exemption (NOE) may be filed with County Clerk• The filing of an NOE shortens the time that someone can file a legal challenge to the exemption from 180 days to 35 days
  19. 19. Preparing an Initial Study
  20. 20. Initial Study• Purpose  Complete a project description  To decide between a Negative Declaration, Mitigated Negative Declaration, or EIR  Refine issues to be addressed in an EIR• Initial Study is not required if it is known an EIR will be prepared
  21. 21. Contents of Initial Studies CCR §15063(d)• Project description - location, project objectives and characteristics• Environmental setting• Discussion of environmental impacts using Appendix G checklist• Mitigation measures if necessary• List of preparers
  22. 22. Checklist topics Aesthetics  Land Use Agriculture  Minerals Air Quality (GHG)  Noise  Population/Housing Biology  Public Cultural Services/Utilities Geology  Recreation Hazards  Transportation/traffic Hydrology  Urban decay
  23. 23. Appendix G Checklist
  24. 24. Definition of“Significant Impact on the Environment”• Substantial, or potentially substantial, adverse change in any of the physical conditions within the area affected by the project including land, air, water, minerals, flora, fauna, ambient noise, and objects of historic or aesthetic significance. A social or economic change by itself shall not be considered a significant effect on the environment (CCR §15382)
  25. 25. After the checklist . . . The IS checklist will help you determine what type of CEQA environmental document the Lead Agency will need to prepare (or have prepared for them)
  26. 26. Environmental Documents• Negative Declaration• Mitigated Negative Declaration• Environmental Impact Report
  27. 27. Mitigation Measures Required for all potentially significant impacts if possible Should identify who, what, where and when Be legally, technically, socially, politically and economically feasible Should avoid the impact altogether or minimize impacts by limiting the magnitude May rectify by repairing, rehabilitating, restoring May reduce or eliminate over time May compensate by replacing or providing substitute resources
  28. 28. Preparing anEnvironmental Impact Report(EIR)
  29. 29. When to Prepare an EIR Substantial evidence in the record supports a fair argument that significant impacts may occur. Fair Argument – Very Low Threshold  If there is any substantial evidence to support a fair argument that project may have significant environmental impacts, an EIR must be prepared  There is a presumption in CEQA in favor of preparing EIRs instead of Neg Decs
  30. 30. Basic Types of EIRs Project EIR Program EIR Tiered EIR Subsequent/Supplemental Focused EIR
  31. 31. EIR Versions Administrative Draft EIR (not public) Draft EIR (public review) Final EIR
  32. 32. EIR Process Overview• Notice of Preparation (NOP) released for 30 days• Scoping meeting• Notice of Completion (NOC) and Notice of Availability (NOA) to start minimum 45-day Draft EIR public review• Responses to comments sent to responding public agencies 10 days before EIR certification• Public hearing generally held for discretionary approval• EIR certification, project approval, CEQA findings, statement of overriding considerations• File Notice of Determination (NOD)
  33. 33. Diamond Springs Parkway EIR Joint lead Agency New Roadway Existing Roadway Improvements Water and Sewer Improvements Sound walls Power Lines Much, much more
  34. 34. Notice of Preparation (NOP)Include: Description, location, and a discussion of the probable environmental effects. EIR can be initiated while waiting for comments Responsible agencies and public have 30 days to comment on an NOP. The comments should to be addressed in the EIR. EIR cannot be released for public review until 30 days after distribution of the NOP.
  35. 35. Scoping Process During 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)
  36. 36. What needs to be in the EIR?• Project description• Environmental Setting• Significant environmental effects• Unavoidable significant adverse effects• Growth-inducing impacts• Cumulative impacts• Mitigation measures• Alternatives• FEIR contains response to comments
  37. 37. Typical EIR Impact Analysis Issues• Air quality • Traffic• Biology • Recreation• Hydrology/Water quality • Agriculture• Energy • Seismic safety• Geology/Soils • Noise• Land Use & Planning • Aesthetics• Public Services • Hazardous materials• Cultural Resources • Climate Change
  38. 38. Technical Studies Help provide supporting evidence for the CEQA documents Useful to see what checklist questions the consultant or planner is using, and tailor your report to answering those questions Technical experts often called to give testimony at public hearing
  39. 39. DSP EIR Challenges Surrounding Property Owners Noise Impacts Lighting Impacts Biological Impacts  RLF  CTS Utilities Cultural
  40. 40. When the DEIR is Complete:• Issue Public Notice of Availability (NOA)  Mailed to those previously requesting notice and,  General circulation newspaper or,  Posting in the project area or,  Direct mailing to owners/occupants of contiguous parcels
  41. 41. Issue Notice of Completion (NOC) Sent to SCH Brief description of project Location Address where environmental document is available Notice of hearings (if one is scheduled) Begins the 45-day public review period
  42. 42. Final EIR• Includes text revisions to Draft EIR• Includes responses to comments• No separate public review period• Written response to commenting agencies  10 days prior to certification• Better to discuss everything than ignore difficult issues
  43. 43. Final Decision Process1. Consider and Certify EIR2. Approve Project  Make Findings  Adopt Mitigation, Monitoring Program  Adopt Statement of Overriding Considerations (if necessary)
  44. 44. Final CEQA Step: Notice ofDetermination (NOD) • Filed within 5 working days after project approval • Posted with the county clerk and State Clearinghouse for at least 30 days
  45. 45. Notice of Determination (NOD) Project description Location Date of approval Determination whether will have a significant effect on the environment That ND/MND or EIR was prepared/certified pursuant to CEQA Whether mitigation measures are a condition and whether Statement of Overriding Considerations was adopted Address of where ND/MND or EIR and certification can be examined
  46. 46. The real final CEQA step . . . After the NOD is filed…project isn’t “out of the woods” Litigation timeframe = 30 days after NOD (or 180 days if NOD is not filed with the clerk’s office)
  47. 47. CEQA and Engineers Engineers provide:  the tech studies on items such as hydrology and drainage, traffic, geotechnical analysis  the drawings that enable CEQA writers to understand and analyze the Project  practical comments on mitigation measures  specific project design features, often to comply with mitigation measures  potential stumbling blocks for CEQA writers 
  48. 48. CEQA and the Public CEQA is the bridge between the hard sciences and the public. Technical studies will need to cater to public understanding. Often, site plans, engineering drawings will need to be simplified for CEQA purposes.
  49. 49. Take Home Tips• Be aware of possible environmental consequences of your projects.• When in doubt, contact the environmental division of your group. Early consultation will keep you and your project out of trouble.• CEQA is can be a long, tedious process, but not following procedure could cause even more delays for the project.• Engineers and environmental planners/consultants must be in close contact throughout a project to efficiently and effectively navigate the project through the environmental process.
  50. 50. Helpful Websites CEQA Statute and Guidelines Land Use Planning Information Network (LUPIN) California Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP)
  51. 51. Michael Brandman Associates Environmental Services ☼ Planning ☼ Natural Resources ManagementTrevor Macenski, MSc, REAPrincipal/ Director Environmental ServicesBishop Ranch 32633 Camino Ramon, Suite 460San Ramon, CA 94583Office: 925.830.2733Mobile: 916.508.4170Email: tmacenski@brandman.comTwitter: CEQAplanner