California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

The State Legislature enacted the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in 1970, establishing statewide regulations for the environmental review of discretionary projects and a process for mitigating or avoiding potential environmental impacts. Documents and reports that result from the CEQA review process seek to inform the public, applicable local agencies, and decision makers about the potential environmental impacts associated with certain planning approvals.

When does CEQA apply?

Discretionary Projects
CEQA requires environmental review for discretionary land use applications.

New Land Use Regulations and Community Plan Updates
Land use proposals subject to CEQA include proposed ordinances, revisions to the City’s General Plan, and Community Plans.

Note: Stand-alone ministerial and by-right projects are statutorily exempt under CEQA. These projects do not need planning approvals because they comply with zoning and building code requirements and do not require discretionary action.

Types of CEQA Review

Discretionary projects must undergo CEQA review before they may receive planning approvals. During the early stages of project review, the Department determines the appropriate type of environmental document to prepare.

Environmental Consultants List

The City has established a list of prequalified consultants from which applicants are required to hire when preparing environmental content for development projects.

CEQA Process

This flowchart is a helpful guide to the CEQA process that shows the relationship between State regulations and different types of environmental review for discretionary proposed projects and policies at the local level.

EIR Review Criteria and Performance Standards

City Planning prepared these objective performance criteria to standardize the review of Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) and inform applicants, consultants, and the public of the technical documentation required to prepare an EIR.