Current CEQA Guidelines Update

OPR is pleased to announce that it has transmitted to the California Natural Resources Agency its proposal for the comprehensive updates to the CEQA Guidelines. Among other things, this package includes proposed updates related to analyzing transportation impacts pursuant to Senate Bill 743 and proposed updates to the analysis of greenhouse gas emissions. OPR’s proposal reflects not only input that it received during public comment periods, but also input received during numerous stakeholder meetings, conferences, and other venues.

The proposal consists of the following documents:

More information on the specific proposal to update the CEQA Guideline addressing transportation analyses can be found at Transportation Impacts (SB 743).

Next Steps

The Natural Resources Agency has begun the formal administrative rulemaking process under the Administrative Procedure Act. That rulemaking process may lead to further revisions. After completing the rulemaking process, the Secretary for the Natural Resources Agency may adopt the proposed changes to the Guidelines. Changes would only go into effect after the Office of Administrative Law reviews and approves the changes.

Notice of future activity on the CEQA Guidelines will be posted on OPR’s website and distributed through the CEQA Guidelines List Serve. Please sign-up to stay connected. The Natural Resources Agency will also post updated information about the rulemaking process on its website  .

What are the CEQA Guidelines?

The CEQA Guidelines are administrative regulations governing implementation of the California Environmental Quality Act (Public Resources Code section 21000 and following). The CEQA Guidelines reflect the requirements set forth in the Public Resources Code, as well as court decisions interpreting the statute and practical planning considerations. Among other things, the CEQA Guidelines explain how to determine whether an activity is subject to environmental review, what steps are involved in the environmental review process, and the required content of environmental documents. The CEQA Guidelines apply to public agencies throughout the state, including local governments, special districts, and state agencies.

Public Resources Code section 21083 requires the Office of Planning and Research and the Natural Resources Agency to periodically update the CEQA Guidelines.

History

2015 Preliminary Discussion Draft

OPR released a preliminary discussion draft   of changes to the Guidelines Implementing the California Environmental Quality Act for public review on August 11, 2015. OPR made revisions to the proposed Guidelines package in response to the numerous public comments    it received. OPR wishes to thank those that participated in the review.

OPR and the Natural Resources Agency conducted a public workshop on the preliminary discussion draft on October 6, 2015. A recording of the workshop can be viewed below. Additional information on the CEQA Guidelines and the process for updating them is provided below.

2013 Solicitation for Possible Topics to Be Addressed in the CEQA Guidelines Update

In December 2013, OPR published the Possible Topics to be Addressed in the 2014 CEQA Guidelines Update . That document included a description of the specific proposed changes to the CEQA Guidelines that OPR received in response to the August 2013 Solicitation for Input. OPR received numerous comments    responding to the list of possible topics to be addressed in the current CEQA Guidelines Update.

We also received comments   on a preliminary evaluation of possible metrics   to replace “level of service” in transportation analyses in response to SB 743. As noted above, more information on the specific proposal to update the CEQA Guideline addressing transportation analyses can be found at Transportation Impacts (SB 743).

2013 Solicitation for Input

During the summer of 2013, OPR published a Solicitation for Input  seeking suggestions from stakeholders and the public into what changes, if any, should be made to update the CEQA Guidelines. We received input from a broad range of interested stakeholders. Many of the comments submitted during the review period were thoughtful and constructive, and contributed significantly to the development of draft amendments to the Guidelines. You can read a summary of the major themes   that were raised in that input and the individual comments  .

OPR and the Natural Resources Agency also conducted a public workshop on July 29, 2013. Program materials included the agenda   and presentation slides  .

Hazards in the CEQA Guidelines

As part of the current Guidelines update, OPR released a draft of revisions to Section 15126.2(a), responding to the California Supreme Court’s decision in California Building Industry Association v. Bay Area Air Quality Management District (2015) 62 Cal.4th 369. These revisions specifically address the requirement to analyze hazards that a project may risk exacerbating. The 2016 discussion draft and comments on the proposal are available below:

The final proposed changes to Guidelines section 15126.2 are contained in the November 2017 comprehensive package (see link above).