Completing the CEQA Checklist - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Title: Completing the CEQA Checklist

Completing the CEQA Checklist
  • Terry Rivasplata

Purpose of the Checklist
  • Used to evaluate environmental effects
  • Promotes a consistent approach
  • Requires review of all environmental impacts (not
    just water quality)
  • Provides framework for environmental analysis
  • Requires explanations for each determination

Use the Correct Checklist
  • Correct for Certified Regulatory Programs
  • State Board CEQA regulations Appendix A
  • Framework for SED environmental analysis
  • Under revision for Water Boards
  • Incorrect for CRP processes
  • CEQA Guidelines Appendix G
  • Model checklist for initial study preparation
  • Used for normal CEQA

What Topics Are Covered?
  • Aesthetics
  • Agricultural resources
  • Air quality
  • Biological resources
  • Cultural resources
  • Geology and soils
  • Hazards and hazardous materials
  • Hydrology and water quality
  • Land Use/planning
  • Mineral resources
  • Noise
  • Population and housing
  • Public services
  • Recreation
  • Transportation and traffic
  • Utilities and service systems

Water Quality and Beyond
  • Lead agency must analyze all environmental
    impacts in all topic areasnot just water quality
  • Provide sufficient technical basis for all
  • Analysis must provide enough information to allow
    Board members to make an independent judgment to
    approve the SED
  • Lead agency must take full ownership of contents
    and validity of the SED
  • May incorporate technical input from others
  • May even use draft prepared by dischargers or
    others, as long as analysis reflects our best
    work and judgment

(No Transcript)
Determining Significance
  • Fair argument
  • Thresholds from other agencies plans and
  • Mandatory findings of significance (Checklist

Fair Argument Test
  • If anyone presents evidence that a project may
    have a significant effect on the environment, the
    lead agency must prepare an EIR-level SEDeven
    when presented with contrary evidence
  • The SED must analyze each of these potentially
    significant effects
  • City of Arcadia case (LA Trash TMDL)

CEQA Guidelines 15064(f)
More about Fair Argument
  • A fair argument must be based on evidence
  • Facts, supposition predicated upon facts, and/or
    expert opinion based on facts
  • NOT unsupported opinion or controversy alone
  • A fair argument may be raised at any time while
    the administrative record is open
  • From beginning the process until the final

Fair Argument and SED
  • Even if an impact doesnt reach a threshold of
    significance, a fair argument can cause the lead
    agency to treat the impact as significant in the
  • The SED must identify these effects as
    potentially significant
  • Further analysis will be required to evaluate
    these impacts
  • Mitigation measures may reduce significance of
    these impacts -- Mitigated Neg Dec-level SED

Thresholds of significance
  • Established standards may define when an impact
    is significant
  • Standards of other agencies
  • Examples water quality standards, noise
    ordinances, air quality standards, etc.
  • Many of these are published in agencies regs,
    guidelines, or plans

Thresholds of Significance (contd)
  • These help determine when an impact can be
    considered less than significant
  • However, thresholds are trumped by a fair

Mandatory Findings of Significance
  • Check the left column box on Question XVII if the
    project will
  • Substantially degrade environmental quality
  • Substantially reduce fish or wildlife habitat
  • Cause a fish or wildlife habitat to drop below
    self-sustaining levels
  • Threaten to eliminate a plant or animal community
  • Substantially reduce numbers or restrict range of
    a rare, threatened, or endangered species
  • Eliminate important examples of major periods of
    California history or prehistory

Mandatory Findings of Significance, contd
  • Or, check the left box if the project will
  • Cause substantial adverse effects on humans
  • Achieve short-term environmental goals to
    detriment of long-term goals
  • Result in possible cumulative impacts
  • (partial list see Guidelines 15065)

Checklist Categories The Four Columns
  • Potentially significant impact
  • Less than significant with mitigation
  • Less than significant impact
  • No impact

Potentially Significant Impact
  • The project may have a substantial adverse impact
    on the environment
  • OR
  • Mitigation has been identified but is within
    jurisdiction and discretion of others to impose
  • Any one check in this column requires an
    EIR-level SED (or mitigation/recirculation)

Less than Significant With Mitigation
  • Mitigation must be within Water Board authority,
    or relatively certain to be required by another
  • Neg Dec or Mitigated Neg Dec-level SED possible
  • There are no checks in the potentially
    significant column
  • AND
  • All mitigation measures are incorporated into the
    project before public document review
  • Incorporation of mitigation after public review
    may require recirculation

Less Than Significant Impact
  • Environmental impact is not
  • OR
  • Impact is not adverse

No Impact
  • The project will not affect the resource being

Scan Your Checks!
  • Any check in the far left column requires an
    EIR-level SED
  • If applicable, consider additional mitigation/
  • If all checks are in the right three columns, you
    get to do a Neg Dec-level SED!
  • Unlikely for TMDLswhere we cant specify manner
    of compliance, and must specify reasonable range
    of compliance measures and analyze
  • For CRPs, distinction between Mitigated Neg Dec-
    and Neg Dec-level SEDs is largely immaterial

  • Support each check with an Explanation
  • All checklist conclusions must be supported by
    evidence and analysis
  • Sometimes this is simple
  • Sometimes it requires research or additional
    studies (include in analysis)
  • Sometimes it requires technical expertise or
  • If you include explanations in the Staff Report,
    reference location in checklist

Example Air Quality
  • Consult with local/regional air quality districts
  • Describe air quality regulatory status (e.g.,
  • Describe regional air quality plans and policies
  • Describe existing ambient conditions and
  • Will the project result in direct or indirect
    significant impacts on air quality?
  • Determination may depend on environmental setting

  • There are resources available to help analyze
    project impacts
  • The handout lists resources by subject
  • Use these resources to start researching the
    baseline, the resource issues, thresholds/standard
    s, significance, and cumulative impacts

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