CEQA review and land use planning

From CCoWS Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Projects which are consistent with the development density established by existing zoning, community plan, and or general plan policies for which an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was certified shall not require additional environmental review, except as might be necessary for project specific effects peculiar to the project or site. If the project includes specific effects additional to those already considered under the plan EIR, the scope of the review will be limited to the additional effects. [1] [2]


Tiering refers to covering broad environmental matters in a general, over-arching program-level EIR which is followed by more specific environmental documents focused on individual projects [3] . Tiering allows general environmental effects associated with some projects to be incorporated into an EIR prepared for a general plan or policy so that subsequent EIRs specific to individual projects may focus on the effects not analyzed in the prior EIR.

Tiering allows agencies to deal with broad environmental issues in EIRs at planning stages. The use of programmatic EIRs is adopted from NEPA. Projects conducting EIRs at a secondary tier must

  1. be consistent with the program or plan for which an EIR has been prepared,
  2. be consistent with applicable local land use plans
  3. not trigger the need for a subsequent EIR or supplement to an EIRs

Multi-stage projects may take advantage of tiering in order to focus attention on present issues and defer those to a later project specific EIR. [4]

Master EIR

A master EIR can fully analyze the effects of subsequent development projects or activities that follow the approval of a general plan or specific plan. An agency may reduce the scope of subsequent activities or projects that follow the course of the action whose environmental effects are addressed in the MEIR. The lead agency for an MEIR will be the lead agency for any subsequent EIR. [5]

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Streamlining for Infill Projects

Senate Bill 226 was signed into law on October 4, 2011. In response to population growth and accelerated outward growth of urban areas in the last several decades, the legislature passed SB 226 to encourage development which occurs within established growth boundaries, also known as infill. [6] The goal of infill development is supported by SB 375, a bill enacted in 2008 that requires metropolitan planning agencies to adopt a sustainable community strategy that will comprehensively integrate land use planning, transportation investments, and climate policy. [7] SB 226 integrates environmental review and comprehensive planning. [8]

SB 226 achieves streamlining by narrowing the scope of impacts that need to be addressed at the project level. As a result, projects whose impacts have already been studied under a land-use plan may gain approval with a checklist instead of an EIR. It allows infill projects to avoid repeating analysis of environmental effects that have already been analysed at the programmatic level. [9]

Eligibility Requirements The project must be within an incorporated city or in an area entirely surrounded by incorporated cities. The site must be previously developed, or vacant and surrounded on three sides by other urban uses. The project must be consistent with the general use designation, density and building intensity designed in a sustainable communities strategy or alternative planning strategy. The project may be residential, commercial, a public office building, a transit station, or a school, but it must satisfy environmental performance standards. Standards are intended to advance policies designed to

  • reduce vehicle miles traveled
  • prioritize infill development
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • reduce per capita water use
  • promote transit supportive communities
  • protect public health,

among others. [10]


  1. Remy et al. 1996. Guide to the California Environmental Quality Act.
  2. CEQA Handbook section 15183
  3. CEQA Tiering Process
  4. Remy et al. 1996. Guide to the California Environmental Quality Act. Point Arena, CA: Solano Press Books; p. 315-318
  5. Master EIR Public Resources Code
  6. Narrative Explanation of SB 226
  7. [1] SB 226
  8. [2]
  9. Letter explaining streamlining process
  10. Narrative explanation of SB226



This page may contain students's work completed as part of assigned coursework. It may not be accurate. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion or policy of CSUMB, its staff, or students.