On July 27th, the California Natural Resources Agency took the next step toward rulemaking for streamlined environmental review for qualified infill projects. The action proposed is to add a new section 15183.3 to the CEQA Guidelines, as well as a new Appendix M and N to the Guidelines, pursuant to SB 226 (which added Pub. Resources Code section 21094.5.5, directing the Resources Agency’s rulemaking). The written comment period will remain open until 5:00 p.m. on September 10, 2012. Two public hearings have been scheduled, the first on September 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, and the second on September 10, 2012 in Sacramento.
While existing law already permits streamlined CEQA review for qualified infill projects under SB 226, the Natural Resources Agency’s proposed guidelines would establish a process for documenting and applying SB 226’s streamlining provisions. The proposed rules also clarify the type of specific environmental review required, which may include a checklist approach, more information about the evidence standard for lead agencies, an explanation of the threshold amount of allowable environmental impact, further guidance on which additional policy documents may be used in the streamlined process, and a discussion of mitigation measures.
The proposal also details the performance standards needed for streamlining eligibility as required by SB 226 to ensure that infill development advances state policies with respect to GHG emissions, public health, and water and resource management. Overall, SB 226 and the implementing Guideline section are intended to promote infill development over greenfield development, and to make environmental review less burdensome for qualifying projects. (By Holly W. Roberson)
More information can be found at: http://ceres.ca.gov/ceqa/docs/SB226_Guideline_Updates_Notice.pdf.