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CEQA & COVID-19

Please see guidance and information below regarding CEQA and COVID-19. OPR will post future updates on this website. Please email state.clearinghouse@opr.ca.gov if you would like to discuss any statutory or regulatory compliance issues that you are experiencing related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deadlines, Noticing, and Filing Requirements

During the COVID-19 pandemic, certain requirements under CEQA were modified by Executive Orders. As of September 30th, those Executive Orders will no longer be in effect. (EO N-8-21)

Pursuant to Executive Order N-80-20, certain requirements for filing, noticing, and posting of CEQA documents with county clerk offices were conditionally suspended and alternate requirements must be taken in lieu of those requirements.

This Executive Order will no longer be in effect after September 30, 2021. (EO N-8-21)

Please note that public agencies or project applicants able to comply with CEQA’s existing requirements for public filing, notice, and public access (and therefore need not avail themselves of the condition suspension in the Order) may do so.

According to Executive Order N-80-20, the following public notices are not required to be filed, posted, and made publicly available at the relevant county clerk’s office, despite CEQA’s requirements, if an appropriate alternative is provided (as discussed below):

  • Posting of notices of preparation of an environmental impact report (EIR) or negative declaration required by Public Resources Code section 21080.4 and 21092 (Pub. Resources Code, § 21092.3)
  • Filing and posting of notices of determination (Pub. Resources Code, § 21152)
  • Filing, posting, and making copies available for public inspection notices of exemption, if those notices are filed at all (CEQA Guidelines, § 15062(c)(2), (c)(4))
  • Posting notices of intent to adopt negative declarations or mitigated negative declarations (CEQA Guidelines, § 15072(d))
  • Filing, posting, and making available for public inspection notices of determination for negative declarations or mitigated negative declarations (CEQA Guidelines, § 15075(a), (d), (e))
  • Posting of notices of availability of draft EIRs (CEQA Guidelines, § 15087(d))
  • Posting of notices of determination (CEQA Guidelines, § 15094(a), (d), (e))

A lead agency, responsible agency, or project applicant that complies with all of the following conditions shall deemed to have fully satisfied the above-listed CEQA requirements on public filing, posting, notice, and public access:

  • Post the notices listed above on the lead or responsible agency’s website for the same length of time that would be required for physical posting,
  • Submit all notices listed above to the State Clearinghouse’s CEQAnet web portal, and
  • With exception to the provisions that have been suspended, lead and responsible agencies and project applicants must perform public noticing and outreach to all interested parties as allowed and required by CEQA and the CEQA Guidelines; for example, as required by CEQA Guidelines section 15087(a), agencies and applicants must continue to give notice to all entities who have requested notice.

Lead and responsible agencies and project applicants are encouraged to use any other available and appropriate methods to provide public notice. This may have included notification by e-mail and telephone of proposed projects to community organizations, among other methods.

The Executive Order does not suspend CEQA’s requirements in their entirety for public filing, notice, posting, and public access; rather, the Order provides an alternate means of complying with those requirements in light of the current pandemic.

The Executive Order did not suspend deadlines for public review and comment periods for CEQA documents, such as for draft EIRs and negative declarations, and those deadlines remained unchanged. CEQA establishes a floor and not a ceiling for public review and comment periods. Lead and responsible agencies may use their discretion to extend such time periods to allow for additional public review and comments.

Any filing fees required by Fish & Game Code section 711.4 and submitted with notices of determination at the county clerk’s office must still have been paid to that office. OPR recommended that public agencies or project applicants submitting notices to the CEQAnet web portal, also submit a signed letter (from either the lead or responsible agency or project applicant) stating they have submitted proper payment of the required Fish & Game Code fees or a copy of a receipt from a county clerk’s office.

Please note that the State Clearinghouse is still operating every weekday from 9 am to 4 pm. Clearinghouse staff can be reached via phone at 916-445-0613 or via email at state.clearinghouse@opr.ca.gov if you have any questions.

Tribal Consultation Requirements

Pursuant to Executive Order N-80-20, certain timeframes for tribal consultation required under AB 52 (Chapter 532, Statutes 2014) were suspended. Specifically, the Executive Order suspended the timeframes governing when a tribe must request consultation and when lead agencies must begin the consultation process for an EIR, negative declaration, or mitigated negative declaration. Pursuant to EO N-8-21, these provisions remain in effect through September 30, 2021.

To the extent any timeframe within which a California Native American tribe must request consultation and the lead agency must begin the consultation process relating to an Environmental Impact Report, Negative Declaration, or Mitigated Negative Declaration under CEQA extends beyond September 30, 2021, the tribe and lead agency will receive the benefit of the extension so long as the triggering event occurred on or before September 30, 2021.

Public Meetings

Regarding public meetings subject to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act and the Brown Act, to the language in the Governor's March 17, 2020, Executive Order (EO) N-29-20 has been superseded by EO N-8-21, Paragraph 44. All of the provisions concerning the conduct of public meetings apply through September 30, 2021.

For meetings not specifically governed by open meetings laws, such as public scoping meetings, we encourage lead agencies to use all of the technology tools available to them to engage as many members of the public as possible. There may be other methods to reach the public who do not have internet access, such as using teleconference platforms.

As to providing CEQA documents at public libraries, CEQA Guidelines section 15087(g) states that “[l]ead agencies should furnish copies of draft EIRs to public library systems serving the area involved.” Providing copies of CEQA documents at libraries may not be feasible at this time, as many libraries are closed.

Legislative Update

These publications compile bills passed by the Legislature during previous sessions and sent to the Governor’s Office for consideration. The bills that pertain to local and regional governance, including any changes to CEQA. While comprehensive, the publications are do not cover all bills that may be relevant to local and regional government.

For More Information

Natalie Kuffel
Natalie Kuffel is Land Use Counsel at OPR, where she assists the legal, legislative, and planning teams with work related to CEQA, housing, and transportation policy.

Legislative Updates

Sloane Viola
Sloane Viola is the Legislative Director at OPR, representing the office’s interests in the legislative process.