Current CEQA Guidelines Update

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. In recent years, updates have responded to specific statutory directives to address, for example, greenhouse gas emissions (SB 97, 2007) and streamlining for infill development (SB 226, 2011). The Office of Planning and Research and the Natural Resources Agency are currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the CEQA Guidelines. Because CEQA applies to such a diverse range of activities and decision-makers, and affects communities and project applicants throughout the state, your input is and has been a crucial step in that review.

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. The comment period on that draft has now closed, and OPR is reviewing the input that it received and is making revisions in response to that input. OPR wishes to thank those that participated in the review. Notice of future activity on the CEQA Guidelines, including completion of this package, will be posted on this website and distributed through the CEQA Guidelines List Serve.

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.

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. More information on the specific proposal to update the CEQA Guideline addressing transportation analyses can be found here.

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 will contribute significantly to the development of draft amendments to the Guidelines. A summary of the major themes that were raised in that input is available here  . The individual comments can be found here.

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

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research 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 proposal and comments on the proposal are available below: