The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process, established by state law, requires the review of proposed projects in order to identify and address potential environmental effects. A project, under CEQA, is defined as the whole of an action, which has the potential to physically and directly change the environment that is subject to discretionary governmental approval. Once it is determined that a project requires discretionary approval, it must then be determined whether or not the project is exempt from CEQA.
Projects which are not exempt from CEQA require a Negative Declaration (ND), Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) or an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). When a project does not result in any significant effects on the environment, or project modification and/or mitigation measures reduce these impacts to a less than significant level, a Negative Declaration is prepared. An EIR must be prepared if a proposed project may have one or more potentially significant effects on the environment that cannot be mitigated to a less than significant level.
The Community Development Department prepares most CEQA documents. However, there may be cases that an applicant may elect to contract with a third party to prepare the environmental documents. In the case that environmental documents are prepared by a third party, it is necessary to coordinate the review and circulation of those documents with the City. In addition, the City may request for technical studies to serve as attachments in the CEQA document.