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California State Environmental Review Process (9-CA-a)

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is the state legislation governing environmental protection issues in California. The CEQA process is similar to the federal NEPA process. However, unlike the federal environmental policy process, California may halt a project that is not advantageous for the environment and human health. In California, it is a potential timesaver to use federal NEPA documents for the state environmental analysis. CEQA is particularly concerned with environmental impacts caused by land use development. There are generally three phases to the development process under CEQA: pre-application, application, and review. The California Permit Streamlining Act ensures the process is smooth and efficient.

See Cal. Pub. Res. Code §§ 21000-21189.3 et seq., Environmental Quality

Under CEQA, every development permit is assigned a “lead agency” to coordinate the environmental review among all other state or local agencies that become “responsible” or “trustee” agencies. The lead agency is the agency that has the principal responsibility for carrying out or approving a project which may have a significant effect upon the environment. If any agency disputes which is the lead agency, the disputing agency or the developer may submit the question to the Office of Planning and Research, which will designate a lead agency within 21 days of receiving the request, giving due consideration to the capacity of the selected agency to adequately fulfill the requirements of CEQA. The lead agency prepares the documents under the CEQA process. The other responsible or trustee agencies must consider the documents prepared by the lead agency and are not to prepare their own.

Cal. Pub. Res. Code §§ 21000-21189.3 et seq., Environmental Quality; 2014 CEQA Statutes and Guidelines §§21067 and 21165.


Hydropower

For most hydropower projects in California, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) acts as the lead agency responsible for producing the environmental documents required by CEQA, although other entities (such as cities, municipal utility districts, and irrigation districts) have served as the State’s lead CEQA agency for some projects. Memorandum of Understanding 2013.


The CEQA process runs concurrently to the permit process triggering CEQA. During pre-application, the developer is to identify the appropriate agencies with a stake in the permitting process as well as collect as much background information as possible. In California, developers may request early pre-application conferences to discuss the rules associated with the proposed project. By the end of the pre-application process, the developer should have a clear understanding of the degree of environmental analysis required for the project as well as the number of permitting agencies involved in the project.

See 14 CCR § 15060.5

During the application phase, the developer begins filing the necessary environmental permit applications with the appropriate permitting agencies. The lead agency is responsible for coordinating all the environmental permits and initiating the CEQA process.

2014 CEQA Statutes and Guidelines, Article 4.

There are strict timelines assigned to permit consideration under CEQA. Once a permit application is accepted as complete, the lead agency must approve or disapprove a project within six (6) months when an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is required. For all other cases, the lead agency must approve or disapprove the project within two (2) months.

Cal. Pub. Res. Code §§ 21000-21189.3 et seq., Environmental Quality.


State Environmental Review Process Process

9-CA-a.1 to 9-CA-a.2 – Is the Project a Discretionary Project Subject to CEQA?

Unless exempt, all “discretionary projects” proposed to be carried out or approved by public agencies, including but not limited to licensing, permitting, and leasing decisions, must go through CEQA review. Cal. Pub. Res. Code §21080(a). Discretionary projects are those, which require the exercise of judgment or deliberation, as opposed to merely determining whether there has been compliance with applicable laws and regulations. 14 CCR §15357; see also 14 CCR §15369. Discretionary projects are those, which require the exercise of judgement or deliberation, as opposed to merely determining whether there has been compliance with applicable laws and regulations. 14 CCR §15357; see also 14 CCR §15369. The definition of “project” for the purposes of CEQA is broad. “Project” means any activity which has the potential to cause a direct or reasonably foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment, and which is any of following:

  1. Activities directly undertaken by a public agency;
  2. Activities which receive financial assistance from a public agency; and
  3. Activities involving the issuance of a lease, permit, license, or other entitlement for use by a public agency.

Cal. Pub. Res. Code §21065; 14 CCR §15378(a).

Legislative actions such as general plan amendments, zone changes, and annexations may ultimately lead to physical environmental changes and therefore are “projects” for the purposes of CEQA. 14 CCR §15378(a)(1); Bozung v. Local Agency Formation Commission, 13 Cal. 3d 263, 279 (1979). “Project” includes a legislative body submitting an initiative measure to the voters that may lead to voter approval of the project. Friends of Sierra Madre v. City of Sierra Madre, 25 Cal. 4th 165 (2000); 14 CCR §15378(b)(3).

9-CA-a.3 — Does a Categorical or Statutory Exemption Apply?

There are a number of statutory and categorical exemptions to CEQA review. Statutory exemptions include, but are not limited to:

  • Ongoing projects;
  • Feasibility and planning studies;
  • Discharge requirements;
  • Timberland preserves;
  • Coastal plans and programs;
  • Ministerial projects. A ministerial action applies fixed standards or objective measurements and involves "little or no personal judgment by a public official as to the wisdom or manner of carrying out the project." 14 CCR § 15369;
  • Emergency projects;
  • Disapproved projects;
  • Early activities related to thermal power plants;
  • Specified mass transit projects;
  • Air quality permits;
  • Pipelines;
  • Notification of discovery of Native American burial sites; and
  • Any activity or approval necessary for or incidental to project funding by the Rural Economic Development Infrastructure Panel.

14 CCR §§ 15260-15285. A complete list of statutory exemptions are found in Cal. Pub. Res. Code §§ 21080(b), 21080.01-21080.33 and §§ 21159.21-21159.23 and 14 CCR §15270. CEQA regulations list 33 classes of activities that warrant categorical exemptions from CEQA because the Secretary of for Resources has found that they do not have a significant effect on the environment. This list includes, among other classes of activities:

  • Ministerial projects;
  • Minor alterations to land;
  • Minor alternations in land use limitations;
  • Information collection;
  • Inspections;
  • Loans;
  • Accessory structures;
  • Minor land divisions;
  • Open space contracts or easements;
  • Annexations of existing facilities and lots for exempt facilities;
  • Leasing new facilities;
  • Cogeneration projects at existing facilities;
  • Small hydroelectric projects at existing facilities;
  • Minor actions to prevent, minimize, stabilize, mitigate, or eliminate the release or threat of release of hazardous waste or hazardous substances; and
  • Historical Resource Restoration/Rehabilitation;

Categorical exemptions are based on a finding by the Secretary for Resources that the classes of projects included in the exemption do not have a significant impact on the environment.

14 CCR § 15354; 14 CRR §§ 15300-15333.


9-CA-a.4 - File a Notice of Exemption

In order to claim the project activity is exempt (statutorily or categorically) from the CEQA process, the lead agency must file a notice of exemption. A notice of exemption is a brief notice that may be filed by an agency after it has determined that the proposed project is exempt from the CEQA process.

14 CCR § 15062.


9-CA-a.5 to 9-CA-a.6 – Is the Project Subject to Other Environmental Siting Requirements?

Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21080.5 allows state agencies to develop their own environmental review processes in lieu of preparing an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The alternative processes may be used so long as they comply with Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21080.5 and are certified by the Secretary of the Resources Agency. For example, the California Energy Commission (CEC) has developed it's own environmental review process that must be used in lieu of preparing an EIR for applications to site thermal power plants with a net generating capacity of 50 MW or more. See On-Site Evaluation: 10


9-CA-a.7 to 9-CA-a.8 – If Project Requires a FERC License, Will SWRCB Act As the Lead CEQA Agency?

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between California’s State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) directs the SWRCB and FERC’s coordination of pre-application activities for hydropower projects requiring a FERC license where the SWRCB acts as the State’s lead agency. Pre-application activities governed by the MOU include activities leading to the issuance of environmental documents satisfying the legal requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Memorandum of Understanding 2013.

SWRCB State Environmental Review Process:
9-CA-b


9-CA-a.9 to 9-CA-a.10 - Conduct Initial Study

Under Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 6370 et seq., if lands contain significant environmental value, the CEQA process must determine whether the project is consistent with the environmental values of the land. The initial survey must be completed within thirty (30) days of accepting the completed application. The guidelines require a determination of the significance of the environmental effects caused by the project, the impacts from greenhouse gas emissions, and the significance of impacts to archaeological and historical resources.

Under 14 CCR § 15063, an initial study is not required if the project clearly requires an EIR. In preparing an initial study, the lead agency must consider all phases of the project planning, implementation, and operation. The lead agency may use an environmental assessment or a similar analysis prepared pursuant to NEPA. The initial study may also rely on an expert's opinion, but is not intended to be as detailed as an EIR.

The contents of the initial study are set out in the 2014 CEQA Statutes and Guidelines and include:

  • The description and location of the project;
  • Identification of the environmental setting;
  • Identification of environmental effects by use of the checklist;
  • A discussion of mitigation methods;
  • A discussion of consistency with existing zoning, plans, and other land use controls; and
  • Identification of the participants in the initial study.

14 CCR § 15063

The review processes used to determine whether the proposed project will cause a significant impact on the environment are similar to those found in the On-Site Evaluation Process Overview Flowchart. The lead agency will prepare documents determining whether the proposed project will cause a significant impact on issues such as the local flora and fauna, aesthetic resources, air quality, and cultural resources. The lead agency normally relies on an environmental checklist form found in 2014 CEQA Statutes and Guidelines, Appendix G.

On-Site Evaluation: 10

Also, note that lead agency must determine whether the proposed project will cause significant impact on tribal cultural resources as defined in Cal. Pub. Res. Code§ 21074. Cal. Pub. Res. Code §21080.3.1(b). A lead agency “may choose to contact the Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) at the beginning of the CEQA process (i.e. concurrently with the Initial Study) to identify the California Native American tribes and the tribal contact person(s) if it wishes to proactively initiate consultation with tribes.” 2015 Update for the CEQA Deskbook, at p. 6.

9-CA-a.11 — Is a Native American Tribal Consultation Required?

Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21080.3.1 requires a lead agency to consult with a California Native American tribe, prior to the release of a negative declaration, mitigated negative declaration or a environmental impact report (EIR) for a project, if:

  • The California Native American tribe requested to the lead agency, in writing, to be informed by the lead agency through formal notification of proposed projects in the geographic area that is traditionally and culturally affiliated with the tribe; and
  • The California Native tribe responds, in writing, within thirty (30) days of receipt of the formal notification, and requests the consultation.

Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21080.3.1.

9-CA-a.12 to 9-CA-a.13 — Provide Notice to Native Tribe Representative

Within fourteen (14) days of determining that an application for a project is complete or a decision by a public agency to undertake a project, the lead agency must provide formal notification to the designated contact of, or a tribal representative of, traditionally and culturally affiliated California Native tribes that have requested notice. The lead agency must publish notice in writing including:

  • A brief description of the proposed project and its location;
  • The lead agency contact information; and

Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21080.3.1(d).

The lead agency must begin the consultation process within thirty (30) days of receiving a California Native American tribe’s request for consultation. Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21080.3.1 (e).

If the California Native American tribe requests consultation regarding alternatives to the project, recommended mitigation measures, or significant effects, the consultation must include those topics. Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21080.3.2. The consultation may include discussion concerning the type of environmental review necessary, the significance of tribal cultural resources, the significance of the project’s impacts on the tribal cultural resources, and if necessary, project alternatives or the appropriate measures for preservation or mitigation that the California Native American tribe may recommend to the lead agency. Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21080.3.2.

9-CA-a.14 - Is There Potential for Significant Environmental Impacts?

The lead agency is required to consult with all responsible agencies and trustee agencies responsible for the resources affected. During or immediately following the preparation of the initial study, the lead agency may consult with the developer to determine if the developer is willing to modify the project to reduce or avoid significant effects identified in the initial study.

If an agency determines there is substantial evidence of a significant effect on the environment, the lead agency shall do one of the following:

  1. Prepare an EIR;
  2. Use a previously prepared EIR;
  3. Determine a master EIR should be used for the entire project; or
  4. Prepare a Negative Declaration if there is no substantial evidence that the project or any aspects may cause a significant effect on the environment.

2014 CEQA Statutes and Guidelines, page 127.


9-CA-a.15 - Negative Declaration, Mitigated Negative Declaration

When the initial study shows that there is no substantial evidence, in light of the whole record, that the project may have a significant effect on the environment or that there are potentially significant effects that have been avoided by revision a negative declaration or a mitigated declaration may be created by the lead agency.

A negative declaration prepared for public review must include:

  • A brief description of the project, including a commonly used name for the project;
  • The location of the project, preferably shown on a map, and the name of the project proponent;
  • A proposed finding that the project will not have a significant effect on the environment;
  • An attached copy of the initial study documenting reasons to support the finding; and
  • Mitigation measures, if any, included in the project to avoid potentially significant effects.

14 CCR § 15070.

Native American Tribe Consultation Requirements (If Applicable)

Parties may propose mitigation measures, including but not limited to, those recommended in Cal. Publ. Res. Code § 210843, capable of avoiding or substantially lessening potential significant impacts to the tribal cultural resources or alternatives that would avoid significant impacts to a tribal cultural resource. Cal. Publ. Res. Code § 21084.3.1.

9-CA-a.16 – Provide Notice of Proposed Declaration

The lead agency provides notice of intent to adopt a negative declaration or mitigated negative declaration to the public, responsible agencies, trustee agencies and the county clerk of each county within which the proposed project is located early enough to allow the public and agencies the appropriate amount of time to review the notice (not less than 20 days or not less than 30 days if submitted to the Clearinghouse).

Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21091

9-CA-a.17 – Comment on Proposed Declaration

The public and the responsible agencies may comment on the negative declaration or mitigated negative declaration. During this time, any issues concerning the lead agency’s decision may be brought to attention.

Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21091

9-CA-a.18 – Review and Respond to Comments

Once the public and responsible agencies have had the opportunity to comment on the published negative declaration or mitigated negative declaration, the lead agency must review and respond to any comments submitted. Response times vary based on whether an EIS is required. If no EIS is required, the declaration must be circulated for thirty (30) days and the lead agency must adopt the declaration within 105 days of the acceptance of the completed application.

Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21091

9-CA-a.19 - Adopt Negative Declaration or Mitigated Negative Declaration

The advisory body of the lead agency makes the final decision to adopt the negative declaration or mitigated negative declaration. The decision is made after reviewing the recommendation and the public comments. The lead agency must establish a monitoring program to ensure the required mitigation measures are enforced.

Native American Tribe Consultation Requirements (If Applicable)

Note, a lead agency may not “certify an EIR or adopt a mitigated negative declaration for a project with a significant impact on an identified cultural resource” unless:

  • The California Native American tribe has requested consultation pursuant to Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21080.3.1 and has failed to provide comments to the lead agency, or otherwise failed to engage in the consultation process; or

Further, the lead agency must consider feasible mitigation pursuant to Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21084.3, if:

  • The mitigation measures recommended by the staff of the lead agency as a result of Native American tribe consultation process are not included in the environmental document; or
  • There are no agreed upon mitigation measures at the conclusion of the consultation; or
  • The consultation does not occur, and if substantial evidence demonstrates that a project will cause a significant effect to a tribal cultural resource.


The decision to adopt a negative declaration or mitigated negative declaration may be appealed to the agency's elected decision-making body.

14 CCR § 15072.

9-CA-a.20 - Notice of Determination

After deciding to move forward with the project, the lead agency must file a notice of determination (NOD) within five (5) days of the decision. A notice of determination is required for each phase of the project that requires discretionary approval.

The contents of the NOD should include:

  • Identification of the project including the project title as identified on the proposed negative declaration, its location, and the State Clearinghouse identification number;
  • A brief description of the project;
  • The agency's name, the applicant's name, and the date on which the agency approved the project;
  • The determination of the agency that the project will not have a significant effect on the environment;
  • A statement that a negative declaration or a mitigated negative declaration was adopted pursuant to the provisions of CEQA;
  • A statement indicating whether mitigation measures were made a condition of the approval of the project and whether a mitigation plan was adopted; and
  • The address where a copy of the negative declaration or mitigated negative declaration may be examined.

14 CCR § 15094

9-CA-a.21 - Notice of Preparation of Environmental Document

Once the lead agency has decided that an environmental document will need to be prepared, or that the proposed project may have significant impacts on the environment, the lead agency must issue notice to all interested parties. The notice must provide all interested parties with a description of the proposed project and the potential environmental impacts that the project may cause. Once the interested parties have received notice that an environmental document will be prepared, they will have thirty (30) days to respond to the lead agency with any environmental information.

14 CCR § 15082.

Native American Tribe Consultation Requirements (If Applicable)

The lead agency must recommend for inclusion in the environmental document and in an adopted mitigation monitoring and reporting program, any mitigation measures agreed upon in the consultation, pursuant to Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21080.3.2, if determined to avoid or lessen the impact on the cultural significant tribal resource. Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21082.3.

If a project may have a significant impact on a tribal cultural resource, the lead agency’s environmental document must discuss both of the following:

  • Whether the proposed project has a significant impact on a tribal cultural resource;
  • Whether feasible alternatives or mitigation measures, including those measures may be agreed to, avoid or substantially lessen the impact on the identified tribal cultural resource.

Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21082.3.

9-CA-a.22 - Conduct Scoping

The lead agency, a responsible agency, a trustee agency, the Office of Planning and Research, or a project applicant may request one or more meetings between representatives of the agencies involved to assist the lead agency in determining the scope and content of the environmental information that the responsible or trustee agency may require. The meetings must be convened by the lead agency as soon as possible, but no later than thirty (30) days after the meetings were requested. On request, the Office of Planning and Research will assist in convening meetings that involve state agencies.

14 CCR § 15082(b)

For projects of statewide, regional, or area-wide significance, the lead agency must conduct at least one scoping meeting. A scoping meeting held pursuant to NEPA in the city or county within which the project is located satisfies this requirement if the lead agency meets the notice requirements.

14 CCR § 15082(c)(1)

The lead agency must provide notice of the scoping meeting to all of the following:

  • Any county or city that borders on a county or city within which the project is located, unless otherwise designated annually by agreement between the lead agency and the county or city;
  • Any responsible agency;
  • Any public agency that has jurisdiction by law with respect to the project; and
  • Any organization or individual who has filed a written request for the notice.

14 CCR § 15082(c)(2)

A lead agency must call at least one scoping meeting for a proposed project that may affect highways or other facilities under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) if the meeting is requested by the department. The lead agency must call the scoping meeting as soon as possible but not later than thirty (30) days after receiving the request from the Department of Transportation.

Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21083.9

9-CA-a.23 - Issue Clearinghouse Number

For complex projects, the lead agency must send the issue to the State Clearinghouse to ensure the wide range of state and local interests are coordinated appropriately. The State Clearinghouse is responsible for connecting the lead agency to all appropriate responsible agencies for coordination and consultation.

The State Clearinghouse Number (SCH #) is a ten-digit number which is unique to each project reviewed through the State Clearinghouse. The sequencing of the numbers has evolved through the years. As of January 1, 2000, a new sequencing went into effect. The first four digits indicate the year in which the document was processed by the State Clearinghouse (or first processed in the case of projects that circulate through the State Clearinghouse several times). The next two digits indicate the month in which the document was processed. The next digit indicates the geographic location of the project (i.e. "region"). The last three digits indicate the sequence in which the document was processed for that month.

State Clearinghouse Handbook

9-CA-a.24 - Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR)

At the close of the scoping period, the lead agency prepares a draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to circulate among the concerned agencies, the public, and relevant Native American Tribe, if necessary. A draft EIR may be prepared by the lead agency, a contractor, the developer or the developer's consultant, or a third party through a memorandum of understanding with the developer. A previously prepared EIR may also be used as a draft EIR if it has been amended or revised for the current proposed project. Regardless of who prepares the draft EIR, the document must reflect the independent judgment of the lead agency.

14 CCR § 15084

Upon completion of the draft EIR, a notice of completing must be filed with the Office of Planning and Research. If the EIR will be reviewed through the State Clearinghouse, the notice of completion cover form will serve as the notice of completion.

Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21091

9-CA-a.25 – Provide Notice of Draft EIR

Once the draft EIR has been prepared, the lead agency will publish the draft and provide notice of an open comment period to the public, responsible agencies, and any other interested party. Public notice is published at least once in a newspaper in the affected area; a notice should be published at the site and a direct mailing to owners and occupants of adjacent parcels.

Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21091

9-CA-a.26 – Comment on Draft EIR

The comment period is an opportunity for any party other than the lead agency to express concerns about the proposed project. The public review period may not be less than 30 days.

Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21091

9-CA-a.27 – Review and Respond to Public and Agency Comments

The lead agency must provide written comments in response to public and agency concerns at least ten (10) days before certifying an EIR. The written response must describe the reasons for the lead agency’s decisions and must address the disposition of each significant environmental issue that is raised during the open comment period.

Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21092.5

9-CA-a.28 - Final Environmental Impact Report

A final EIR must be completed before project approval. 14 CCR § 15108 requires the lead agency to complete and certify the final EIR on private projects within one year of the date the lead agency accepted the application as complete. An extension of ninety (90) days may be granted one time, but must with the consent of the applicant.

Article 9 of the CEQA Guidelines governs the contents of EIR's. The required elements include:

  • Informational document;
  • Table of Contents;
  • Summary;
  • Project description;
  • Environmental setting;
  • Consideration and discussion of environmental impacts;
  • Consideration and discussion of significant environmental impacts;
  • Consideration and discussion of mitigation measures proposed to minimize significant effects;
  • Consideration and discussion of alternatives to the proposed project;
  • Effects not found to be significant;
  • Organizations and persons consulted;
  • Discussion of cumulative impacts; and
  • Economic and social effects.

The final EIR must contain:

  • The draft EIR, comments and recommendations received on the draft EIR (summary or verbatim);
  • List of persons, organizations and public agencies commenting on the draft EIR; and
  • Responses of the lead agency to significant environmental points raised in the review and consultation process.

2014 CEQA Statutes and Guidelines, Article 9.

14 CCR § 15120

9-CA-a.29 - Certify Final EIR

The lead agency prepares and certifies a final EIR. If the report shows that significant impact will be mitigated below the level of significance and social and economic concerns have been adequately addressed, the lead agency may approve the project. The permit must be approved or denied within 6 months of certifying the final EIR or within 3 months of adopting a declaration.

14 CCR § 15111.

Native American Tribe Consultation Requirements (If Applicable)

Note, a lead agency may not “certify an EIR or adopt a mitigated negative declaration for a project with a significant impact on an identified cultural resource” unless:

  • The California Native American tribe has requested consultation pursuant to Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21080.3.1 and has failed to provide comments to the lead agency, or otherwise failed to engage in the consultation process; or
  • The lead agency has complied with Cal. Pub. Res. Code §21080.3.1(c) and the California Native American tribe has failed to request consultation within thirty (30) days.

Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21084.3.

9-CA-a.30 - Notice of Determination and Required Documents

In determining whether to approve a project, the lead agency will look at any economic, legal, social, technological, or other benefits, including region-wide or statewide environmental benefits that the project may produce. If these benefits outweigh the projects unavoidable environmental risks, the lead agency may approve the project. The lead agency must prepare a statement of overriding consideration if approving a project with unavoidable environmental risks.

14 CCR § 15093

If the lead agency has determined that the project must adopt mitigation measures to minimize adverse environmental impacts, the lead agency must also adopt a monitoring program to ensure the implementation of those mitigation measures.

14 CCR § 15097

Once the lead agency has made a decision to approve the proposed project, the agency memorializes its decision in a Notice of Determination (NOD). The lead agency must file a NOD within 5 days after deciding to approve a project.

14 CCR § 15094

9-CA-a.31 to 9-CA-a.36 - Is the Lead Agency’s Approval Challenged?

The lead agency's determination may be challenged in court. Environmental litigation can take a great deal of time and resources. CEQA provides an unusually short statute of limitations (180 days) for challenging the approval of projects. Final EIR's are presumed to comply with CEQA unless adjudged otherwise in a legal proceeding.

The court will review the lead agency’s determination for any abuse of discretion or a failure by the lead agency to rely on substantial evidence in the making of the determination. If the court upholds the lead agency’s determination, the challenging party may appeal the court’s ruling.

If the court does not uphold the lead agency’s determination, the developer may not proceed with the proposed project. The developer may appeal the court’s decision to a higher court, or the developer may revise the project and submit the revised project back to the lead agency for a new determination. If the proposed project is revised, the lead agency must submit the revised project through the CEQA process again in order to determine any possible environmental impacts.

14 CCR § 15112

9-CA-a.37 - Proceed with Project

If there is no legal challenge to the NOD, the developer may proceed with the project.




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