Please see the attachments.
For the Little League Heights Towne Center you are going to have to make a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) finding as to whether the project qualifies as a project under CEQA, for both your staff report and your Resolution, and if so under what category. Review the CEQA presentation I have posted to Weekly Module Week 7 then go to the California Government web site at:
Exempt Section 15061
Initial Study Section 15063
Negative Declaration or Mitigated Negative Declaration Section 15070
Environmental Impact Report (EIR) Section 15081
I don’t need to know what each section is, we all discussed that, I need to know what section you are going to choose for your project and why. You do not have to read all 400 plus pages of the statute just scroll down to the relevant sections I have identified for you and make your decision
This need not be more than a short paragraph: eg.The proposed activity is a project under CEQA pursuant to Section 150XX of CEQA because ……………………………………………………………………………………………………
15002. GENERAL CONCEPTS
(a) Basic Purposes of CEQA. The basic purposes of CEQA are to: (1) Inform governmental decision makers and the public about the potential, significant environmental effects of proposed activities. (2) Identify the ways that environmental damage can be avoided or significantly reduced. (3) Prevent significant, avoidable damage to the environment by requiring changes in projects through the use of alternatives or mitigation measures when the governmental agency finds the changes to be feasible. (4) Disclose to the public the reasons why a governmental agency approved the project in the manner the agency chose if significant environmental effects are involved. (b) Governmental Action. CEQA applies to governmental action. This action may involve: (1) Activities directly undertaken by a governmental agency, (2) Activities financed in whole or in part by a governmental agency, or (3) Private activities which require approval from a governmental agency. (c) Private Action. Private action is not subject to CEQA unless the action involves governmental participation, financing, or approval. (d) Project. A “project” is an activity subject to CEQA. The term “project” has been interpreted to mean far more than the ordinary dictionary definition of the term. (See: Section 15378.) (e) Time for Compliance. A governmental agency is required to comply with CEQA procedures when the agency proposes to carry out or approve the activity. (See: Section 15004.) (f) Environmental Impact Reports and Negative Declarations. An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is the public document used by the governmental agency to analyze the significant environmental effects of a proposed project, to identify alternatives, and to disclose possible ways to reduce or avoid the possible environmental damage. (1) An EIR is prepared when the public agency finds substantial evidence that the project may have a significant effect on the environment. (See: Section 15064(a)(1).) (2) When the agency finds that there is no substantial evidence that a project may have a significant environmental effect, the agency will prepare a “Negative Declaration“ instead of an EIR. (See: Section 15070.) (g) Significant Effect on the Environment. A significant effect on the environment is defined as a substantial adverse change in the physical conditions which exist in the area affected by the proposed project. (See: Section 15382.) Further, when an EIR identifies a significant effect, the government agency approving the project must make findings on whether the adverse environmental effects have been substantially reduced or if not, why not. (See: Section 15091.) (h) Methods for Protecting the Environment. CEQA requires more than merely preparing environmental documents. The EIR by itself does not control the way in which a project can be built or carried out. Rather, when an EIR shows that a project would cause substantial adverse changes in the environment, the governmental agency must respond to the information by one or more of the following methods: (1) Changing a proposed project (2) Imposing conditions on the approval of the project; (3) Adopting plans or ordinances to control a broader class of projects to avoid the adverse changes; (4) Choosing an alternative way of meeting the same need; (5) Disapproving the project; (6) Finding that changing or altering the project is not feasible; (7) Finding that the unavoidable significant environmental damage is acceptable as provided in Section 15093. (i) Discretionary Action. CEQA applies in situations where a governmental agency can use its judgment in deciding whether and how to carry out or approve a project. A project subject to such judgmental controls is called a “discretionary project.” (See: Section 15357.) (1) Where the law requires a governmental agency to act on a project in a set way without allowing the agency to use its own judgment, the project is called “ministerial,” and CEQA does not apply. (See: Section 15369.) (2) Whether an agency has discretionary or ministerial controls over a project depends on the authority granted by the law providing the controls over the activity. Similar projects may be subject to discretionary controls in one city or county and only ministerial controls in another. (See: Section 15268.) (j) Public Involvement. Under CEQA, an agency must solicit and respond to comments from the public and other agencies concerned with the project. (See: Sections 15073, 15086, 15087, and 15088.) (k) Three Step Process. An agency will normally take up to three separate steps in deciding which document to prepare for a project subject to CEQA. (1) In the first step the Lead Agency examines the project to determine whether the project is subject to CEQA at all. If the project is exempt, the process does not need to proceed any farther. The agency may prepare a Notice of Exemption. (See: Sections 15061 and 15062.) (2) If the project is not exempt, the Lead Agency takes the second step and conducts an Initial Study (Section 15063) to determine whether the project may have a significant effect on the environment. If the Initial Study shows that there is no substantial evidence that the project may have a significant effect, the Lead Agency prepares a Negative Declaration. (See: Sections 15070 et seq.) (3) If the Initial Study shows that the project may have a significant effect, the Lead Agency takes the third step and prepares an EIR. (See: Sections 15080 et seq.) (l) Certified Equivalent Programs. A number of environmental regulatory programs have been certified by the Secretary of the Resources Agency as involving essentially the same consideration of environmental issues as is provided by use of EIRs and Negative Declarations. Certified programs are exempt from preparing EIRs and Negative Declarations but use other documents instead. Certified programs are discussed in Article 17 and are listed in Section 15251.
(m) This section is intended to present the general concepts of CEQA in a simplified and introductory manner. If there are any conflicts between the short statement of a concept in this section and the provisions of other sections of these Guidelines, the other sections shall prevail.
Note: Authority cited: Section 21083, Public Resources Code; Reference: Sections 21000–21176, Public Resources Code; No Oil, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, 13 Cal. 3d 68 (1974); Running Fence Corp. v. Superior Court, 51 Cal. App. 3d 400 (1975).
15061. REVIEW FOR EXEMPTION
(a) Once a lead agency has determined that an activity is a project subject to CEQA, a lead agency shall determine whether the project is exempt from CEQA. (b) A project is exempt from CEQA if: (1) The project is exempt by statute (see, e.g. Article 18, commencing with Section 15260). (2) The project is exempt pursuant to a categorical exemption (see Article 19, commencing with Section 15300) and the application of that categorical exemption is not barred by one of the exceptions set forth in Section 15300.2. (3) The activity is covered by the general rule that CEQA applies only to projects which have the potential for causing a significant effect on the environment. Where it can be seen with certainty that there is no possibility that the activity in question may have a significant effect on the environment, the activity is not subject to CEQA. (4) The project will be rejected or disapproved by a public agency. (See Section 15270(b)). (5) The project is exempt pursuant to the provisions of Article 12.5 of this Chapter. (c) Each public agency should include in its implementing procedures a listing of the projects often handled by the agency that the agency has determined to be exempt. This listing should be used in preliminary review. (d) After determining that a project is exempt, the agency may prepare a Notice of Exemption as provided in Section 15062. Although the notice may be kept with the project application at this time, the notice shall not be filed with the Office of Planning and Research or the county clerk until the project has been approved. (e) When a non-elected official or decisionmaking body of a local lead agency decides that a project is exempt from CEQA, and the public agency approves or determines to carry out the project, the decision that the project is exempt may be appealed to the local lead agency’s elected decisionmaking body, if one exists. A local lead agency may establish procedures governing such appeals. Note: Authority cited: Section 21083, Public Resources Code; Reference: Sections 21080(b), 21080.9, 21080.10, 21084, 21108(b), 21151, 21152(b), and 21159.21, Public Resources Code; No Oil, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles (1974) 13 Cal. 3d 68.
15063. INITIAL STUDY
(a) Following preliminary review, the Lead Agency shall conduct an Initial Study to determine if the project may have a significant effect on the environment. If the Lead Agency can determine that an EIR will clearly be required for the project, an Initial Study is not required but may still be desirable.
(1) All phases of project planning, implementation, and operation must be considered in the Initial Study of the project. (2) To meet the requirements of this section, the lead agency may use an environmental assessment or a similar analysis prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. (3) An initial study may rely upon expert opinion supported by facts, technical studies or other substantial evidence to document its findings. However, an initial study is neither intended nor required to include the level of detail included in an EIR. (b) Results. (1) If the agency determines that there is substantial evidence that any aspect of the project, either individually or cumulatively, may cause a significant effect on the environment, regardless of whether the overall effect of the project is adverse or beneficial, the Lead Agency shall do one of the following: (A) Prepare an EIR, or (B) Use a previously prepared EIR which the Lead Agency determines would adequately analyze the project at hand, or (C) Determine, pursuant to a program EIR, tiering, or another appropriate process, which of a project’s effects were adequately examined by an earlier EIR or negative declaration. Another appropriate process may include, for example, a master EIR, a master environmental assessment, approval of housing and neighborhood commercial facilities in urban areas, approval of residential projects pursuant to a specific plans described in section 15182, approval of residential projects consistent with a community plan, general plan or zoning as described in section 15183, or an environmental document prepared under a State certified regulatory program. The lead agency shall then ascertain which effects, if any, should be analyzed in a later EIR or negative declaration. (2) The Lead Agency shall prepare a Negative Declaration if there is no substantial evidence that the project or any of its aspects may cause a significant effect on the environment. (c) Purposes. The purposes of an Initial Study are to: (1) Provide the Lead Agency with information to use as the basis for deciding whether to prepare an EIR or a Negative Declaration. (2) Enable an applicant or Lead Agency to modify a project, mitigating adverse impacts before an EIR is prepared, thereby enabling the project to qualify for a Negative Declaration. (3) Assist in the preparation of an EIR, if one is required, by: (A) Focusing the EIR on the effects determined to be significant, (B) Identifying the effects determined not to be significant, (C) Explaining the reasons for determining that potentially significant effects would not be significant, and (D) Identifying whether a program EIR, tiering, or another appropriate process can be used for analysis of the project’s environmental effects. (4) Facilitate environmental assessment early in the design of a project; (5) Provide documentation of the factual basis for the finding in a Negative Declaration that a project will not have a significant effect on the environment; (6) Eliminate unnecessary EIRs; (7) Determine whether a previously prepared EIR could be used with the project. (d) Contents. An Initial Study shall contain in brief form:
(1) A description of the project including the location of the project; (2) An identification of the environmental setting; (3) An identification of environmental effects by use of a checklist, matrix, or other method, provided that entries on a checklist or other form are briefly explained to indicate that there is some evidence to support the entries. The brief explanation may be either through a narrative or a reference to another information source such as an attached map, photographs, or an earlier EIR or negative declaration. A reference to another document should include, where appropriate, a citation to the page or pages where the information is found. (4) A discussion of the ways to mitigate the significant effects identified, if any; (5) An examination of whether the project would be consistent with existing zoning, plans, and other applicable land use controls; (6) The name of the person or persons who prepared or participated in the Initial Study. (e) Submission of Data. If the project is to be carried out by a private person or private organization, the Lead Agency may require such person or organization to submit data and information which will enable the Lead Agency to prepare the Initial Study. Any person may submit any information in any form to assist a Lead Agency in preparing an Initial Study. (f) Format. Sample forms for an applicant’s project description and a review form for use by the lead agency are contained in Appendices G and H. When used together, these forms would meet the requirements for an initial study, provided that the entries on the checklist are briefly explained pursuant to subdivision (d)(3). These forms are only suggested, and public agencies are free to devise their own format for an initial study. A previously prepared EIR may also be used as the initial study for a later project. (g) Consultation. As soon as a Lead Agency has determined that an Initial Study will be required for the project, the Lead Agency shall consult informally with all Responsible Agencies and all Trustee Agencies responsible for resources affected by the project to obtain the recommendations of those agencies as to whether an EIR or a Negative Declaration should be prepared. During or immediately after preparation of an Initial Study for a private project, the Lead Agency may consult with the applicant to determine if the applicant is willing to modify the project to reduce or avoid the significant effects identified in the Initial Study. Note: Authority cited: Section 21083, Public Resources Code; Reference: Sections 21080(c), 21080.1, 21080.3, 21082.1, 21100 and 21151, Public Resources Code; Gentry v. City of Murrieta (1995) 36 Cal.App.4th 1359, San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center v. County of Stanislaus (1994) 27 Cal.App.4th 713, Leonoff v. Monterey County Board of Supervisors (1990) 222 Cal.App.3d 1337.
15070. DECISION TO PREPARE A NEGATIVE OR MITIGATED NEGATIVE DECLARATION
A public agency shall prepare or have prepared a proposed negative declaration or mitigated negative declaration for a project subject to CEQA when: (a) The initial study shows that there is no substantial evidence, in light of the whole record before the agency, that the project may have a significant effect on the environment, or (b) The initial study identifies potentially significant effects, but: (1) Revisions in the project plans or proposals made by, or agreed to by the applicant before a proposed mitigated negative declaration and initial study are released for public review would avoid the effects or mitigate the effects to a point where clearly no significant effects would occur, and (2) There is no substantial evidence, in light of the whole record before the agency, that the project as revised may have a significant effect on the environment. Note: Authority cited: Section 21083, Public Resources Code; Reference: Sections 21064, 21064.5, 21080(c), and 21082.1, Public Resources Code; Friends of B Street v. City of Hayward (1980) 106 Cal.App.3d 988; Running Fence Corp. v. Superior Court (1975) 51 Cal.App.3d 400.
15081. DECISION TO PREPARE AN EIR
The EIR process starts with the decision to prepare an EIR. This decision will be made either during preliminary review under Section 15060 or at the conclusion of an Initial Study after applying the standards described in Section 15064. Note: Authority cited: Section 21083, Public Resources Code; Reference: Section 21100, Public Resources Code; No Oil, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, (1974) 13 Cal. 3d 68; Friends of B Street v. City of Hayward, (1980) 106 Cal. App. 3d 988.
What is It?
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) adopted in 1970 and modeled after the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
Forces decision makers to consider the environmental consequences, and informs the public
Can be expensive and time intensive
The most likely component of a project to be litigated
16 states have similar laws
Proposed Football Stadium in LA
AEG Environmental Impact Report
Over 10,000 Pages
Eighteen Months to prepare
Cost 27 million Dollars
What is its Purpose
Disclose the potential impact of a project for the public and decision makers via the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Initial Study (IS)
Suggest methods for minimizing or avoiding impacts
If significant impacts are avoidable disclose to the public why the project has been approved
Encourage inter agency coordination
Three Step Process
The Agency with the greatest permitting responsibility is the LEAD AGENCY
Preliminary Review – is it a Project? Issuance of discretionary permits i.e. zoning/Land use – but not building permits
Does and exemption apply?
Single Family Homes
In-Fill development less than 5 acres within City Limits
Be consistent with the General Plan
Has no value as a habitat for endangered species
Approval would not result in and significant effects relating to noise, traffic, air quality or water quality
If exempt then no further environmental review is required
The Initial Study
If further review is required then an Initial Study must be prepared
Checklist of environmental factors that is used to evaluate whether a project will have a significant impact upon the environment
Ultimately determines whether a Negative Declaration, A Mitigated Negative Declaration or an Environmental Impact Report is required
Hazards and Hazardous Materials
The Initial Study
Checklist to ascertain whether the Project would;
Have a Potentially Significant Impact
Have a Less than significant impact with mitigation incorporation
Have a Less that Significant Impact
Have No Impact
SAMPLE QUESTIONS FOR AESTHETICS
A) have a substantial adverse effect on a scenic vista
B) Substantially damage scenic resources including but not limited to trees, rock outcropping and historic buildings within a state scenic highway
C) Substantially degrade the existing visual character or quality of the site and its surroundings
D) Create a new sources of substantial light or glare which would adversely affect day or nighttime views in the area
The Initial Study
The Initial Study Process
Requires an appropriate evaluation/written discussion of how the factors are affected
Supplemented by special studies (i.e. Traffic or air quality
If the checklist will not have any impact then it and the supporting paperwork are designated as a NEGATIVE DECLARATION
The Initial Study Process
If the project has some impact on the environment that require what is known as Mitigation Measures to reduce the level of impact then;
The Checklist and supporting documents are designated as a MITIGATED NEGATIVE DECLARATION
Mitigation Measures are stipulated as conditions of approval, implemented during construction or operation of the project
Sample of Mitigation Measures for Air Quality
To reduce emissions all equipment used in grading and construction must be tuned and maintained at the manufacturers specification to maximize efficient burning of vehicle fuel
The project proponent shall ensure that construction personnel are informed of ride sharing and transit opportunities
The project will ensure that existing power sources are utilized where feasible via temporary power poles to avoid on-site generators
A comprehensive environmental assessment that examines the impact of the project using the environmental factors as the framework; states that there will be a significant impact upon the environment (significant, unavoidable, irreversible)
Must be completed before land use approvals can occur
Requires public and outside agency participation/coordination
Involves multiple disciplines (geology, biology, engineering) – Outside consultants most often prepare EIR’s
Table of Contents
Impact Assessment/Environmental Analysis
Alternatives to the Project
EIR Impact Assessment/ Environmental Analysis
The major component where the existing conditions are identified
Discusses how the construction and operation of the project affects these conditions
Environmental Analysis is a more detailed exploration of the environmental factors in the Initial Study such as Air Quality, Traffic, Biological Resources, Endangered species
Where does this Process lead?
The Decision Making Body has the ultimate responsibility of certifying that the environmental review was adequate
For an EIR they have the added step of adopting written findings that state that, although the project may have a significant impact on the environment, the project has overriding reasons for gaining approval (usually financial)