ESP 179- Winter 2013 CEQA and EIA Basics January 10, 2013 Instructor: Trevor Macenski
Extra Credit:Charter City and a General Law California state law dictates that cities may be organized under either General laws of the State Under a charter adopted by the local voters. This authority is set forth in the California Government Code commencing with Section 34100. Cities that are organized under the general laws of the State (Section 34102) Have less autonomy than those that adopt their own charter (Section 34101). General law cities follow the laws set forth in the Government Code commencing with Section 34000. Cities that adopt their own charter, may adopt their own procedures for matters that are considered “municipal affairs.” The California Constitution grants charter cities the power to make and enforce all ordinances and resolutions with respect to municipal affairs (California Constitution Article XI, Section 5(a)). This is commonly referred to as the “home rule” provision.
CEQA 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)
CEQA Lingo CEQA: California Environmental Quality Act IS: Initial Study ND: Negative Declaration NOP: Notice of Preparation of EIR EIR: Environmental Impact Report DEIR: Draft EIR FEIR: Final EIR NOC: Notice of Completion NOD: Notice of Determination NOA: Notice of Availability
CEQA Basics 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
CEQA Basics• 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
Who’s Driving This Bus… Lead Agency= Bus Driver 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
Purpose of CEQA Inform government decision makers and the public about the potential significant environmental impacts of proposed activities Identify ways that environmental impact(s) can be avoided or significantly reduced Prevent significant avoidable damage to the environment by requiring changes in the project through the use of alternatives and mitigation Disclose to the public the reason that an agency approved a project notwithstanding its environmental impacts
CEQA Policy Statements PRC 21000-21004 & Guidelines 15002, 15003: Environmental Protection General Welfare Don’t exceed thresholds Preserve and enhance Concerned effort to control pollution Must give major consideration to env. Clean air and water Don’t eliminate the bugs and bunnies.
CEQA Policy Streamlining PRC 21003 & Guidelines 15003, 15006: Integration of CEQA into other laws Make documents useful Omit unnecessary language Feasible Mitigation and Alternatives Database to reduce delays Efficiency to conserve resources Environment on the mind Whole of the action Good faith effort Tool for informed and balanced decisions
CEQA Objectives CEQA RequirementsDisclose Env. Impacts IS, ND, EIRIdentify and prevent env. damage Mitigation measures Alternatives Mitigation monitoringDisclose agency decision making Findings States of overriding considerationsEnhance public participation Scoping Public notice requirements Response to comments Legal enforcement procedures Citizen access to the courtsFoster intergovernmental coordination Early consultation Scoping meetings Notices of preparation State Clearinghouse review
CEQA Authorizes Agencies to: Require changes in a project to lessen or avoid significant effects, when feasible. Disapprove a project to avoid significant effects Approve a project with significant effects it here is no feasible way to lessen or avoid the significant effects and the projects benefits outweigh these effects Impose fees on a project’s applicant for CEQA implementation.
It gets political real quick… Discretion and Risk Full Compliance vs. Losing Tax Revenue No one size fits all compliance strategy EIR vs. ISMND Example: Bell Village Project Vs. Elnoka Village Example: Meteorological Towers Yolo vs. Merced Convergence of science and the public Educate, Disclose, Consider
CEQA Key PlayersLead Agency: Agency W/ Responsible Agency: Principal responsibility Other than the lead agency Jurisdiction carrying out or that has legal responsibility approving a project. for carrying out or (e.g. City or County) Responsible Concerned approving a project. (e.g. Agencies Citizens Air District) LEAD AGENCY Environmental Courts Consultants Trustee Agencies: Project Applicants Trustee Agencies 1) CDFG 2) SLC 3) Park & Rec 4) UC
Public Participation “ Privileged position” in the CEQA process Concerned Citizens of Costa Mesa v.32nd District Agricultural Association (1986) 42 Cal.3d 929 Opportunities: Scoping- 15083 Public Notice and Review- 15072,15087 Public Hearings and Response to Comments- 15088
Watchdog? Not really.. Office of Planning and Research Ken Alex Scott Morgan Major Responsibilities: Identifying Responsible Agencies Resolving Agency Disputes Posting NOC and NOD Show me the money!- CDFG Fees Guideline changes
Phases in the process Preliminary review of a project to determine if it’s subject to CEQA Preparation of an Initial Study to determine significant effects Maybe be combined Preparation of an ND, MND, or EIR.
What is a “Project” ? 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. 15378 & 21605 Term “project” = Whole of the action(s)
What is NOT a “Project”? Non-projects: Legislative activities Admin or maintenance activities Proposals School closings City place a initiative on the ballot Government organization activities Statutory Exemptions Categorical Exemptions
Exemptions 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)
Statutory Exemption Examples 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
Categorical Exemptions 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
Categorical Exemptions Existing facilities Surplus property sales Reconstruction Land acquisition for Small structures wildlife conservation Minor alterations to Minor additions to land or land use school Actions by regulatory Minor land divisions agencies for natural Transfer of ownership resources protection for parks or protection of the Total of 33 categories environment outlined in section 15301 of Guidelines
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