CSAC Bulletin Article

Housing, Land Use and Transportation 10/07/2011

California Environmental Quality Act 

SB 226 (Simitian) – Oppose
Chapter No. 469, Statutes of 2011

SB 226, by Senator Joe Simitian, makes a number of changes related to CEQA exemptions, streamlining, and the comment process. Specifically, the bill will:

  1. Exempt from CEQA review the installation of a solar energy system on the roof of an existing building or at an existing parking lot.
  2. Authorize referral of a proposed action to adopt or substantially amend a general plan to an adjacent local government to be conducted concurrently with a scoping meeting required by CEQA for a project of statewide, regional or area-wide significance, and authorizes a local agency to submit its comments on the proposed general plan action at a CEQA scoping meeting.
  3. Provide that a project’s greenhouse gas emissions shall not, by themselves, cause the project to be ineligible for a categorical exemption from CEQA review if the project complies with regulations adopted to implement related statewide, regional or local plans as provided in the CEQA guidelines.
  4. Require the Office of Planning and Research (OPR), by July 1, 2012, to develop and send to the Natural Resources Agency proposed CEQA guidelines for statewide standards for the review of infill projects that promote specified state environmental, transportation and land use goals and requires the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency to certify and adopt the guidelines by January 1, 2013.
  5. Limit the application of CEQA in the case of the approval of an infill project that meets the statewide standards in the OPR guidelines authorized above.
  6. Provide that CEQA does not require a public agency to consider written materials submitted after the close of the public comment period, with exceptions for materials addressing new information released after the close of the public comment period and permits a lead agency to elect to ignore written materials submitted after the close of the public comment period and provides that such materials shall not be raised in judicial review.

The measure also allows several large scale renewable energy projects under consideration at the Energy Commission to convert from solar thermal to photovoltaic technology, without the need to file an entirely new application for certification or notice. CSAC is in opposition to these provisions but the Governor was not persuaded by our arguments (see his signing message for more details).

SB 226 was signed by the Governor on October 4. In the coming months, CSAC will work to ensure we are a meaningful participate in the mandated OPR process to develop statewide standards for infill projects and will keep you apprised of our efforts through this e-publication.

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