Today's Law As Amended

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AB-394 California Environmental Quality Act: exemption: egress route projects: fire safety.(2019-2020)


 Section 21080.53 is added to the Public Resources Code, to read:

 (a) For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:
(1) “Riparian area” means an area that is transitional between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, that is distinguished by gradients in biophysical conditions, ecological processes, and biota, and that meets all of the following criteria:
(A) Is an area through which surface and subsurface hydrology connect bodies of water with their adjacent uplands.
(B) Is adjacent to perennial, intermittent, and ephemeral streams, lakes, or estuarine or marine shorelines.
(C) Includes those portions of terrestrial ecosystems that significantly influence exchanges of energy and matter with aquatic ecosystems.
(2) “Subdivision” means a residential development or community of more than 30 dwelling units.
(3) “Wetlands” has the same meaning as defined in the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Manual, Part 660 FW 2 (June 21, 1993).
(b) This division does not apply to an egress route project specifically recommended by the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection pursuant to Section 4290.5 that improves fire safety of an existing subdivision if all of the following conditions are met:
(1) The subdivision has insufficient egress routes, as determined by the lead agency.
(2) The subdivision is located in either of the following:
(A) A state responsibility area that is classified a high or very high fire hazard severity zone pursuant to Section 4202.
(B) A very high fire hazard severity zone, as identified pursuant to Section 51178 of the Government Code.
(3) The location of the project does not contain wetlands or riparian areas.
(4) The project does not harm or take any species protected by the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. Sec. 1531 et seq.), the Native Plant Protection Act (Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 1900) of Division 2 of the Fish and Game Code), the Guidelines for Implementation of the California Environmental Quality Act (Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 15000) of Division 6 of Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations), or the California Endangered Species Act (Chapter 1.5 (commencing with Section 2050) of Division 3 of the Fish and Game Code).
(5) The project does not cause the destruction or removal of any species protected by an applicable local ordinance.
(6) The project does not affect known archaeological, historical, or other cultural resources.
(7) The project is carried out by a public agency.
(8) The lead agency determines that the primary purpose of the project is fire safety egress.
(9) Any commercial timber harvest is incidental to the project’s primary purpose and complies with the Z’Berg-Nejedly Forest Practice Act of 1973 (Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 4511) of Part 2 of Division 4).
(10) If the project involves substantial tree removal, as determined by the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, the entity carrying out the project shall have a registered professional forester or the forester’s designee onsite during the implementation of the project to assist with resource identification and protection. The registered professional forester or the forester’s designee shall be required onsite only on days during which trees are removed.
(11) The entity carrying out the project shall employ the best management practices set forth in Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 895) of Division 1.5 of Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations to ensure resource protection. The entity carrying out the project shall consult early in the design of the project with the appropriate environmental resource professionals, including registered professional foresters, environmental scientists, archaeologists, hydrologists, soil scientists, fire scientists, and other experts in natural resource protection.
(12) The lead agency determines that the project has obtained, or is able to obtain, all necessary funding and any federal, state, and local approvals within one year of the filing of the notice of exemption pursuant to subdivision (d).
(13) All roads that comprise the egress route are publicly accessible to vehicular traffic at all times.
(c) Before determining that a project is not subject to this division pursuant to this section, the lead agency shall hold a noticed public meeting on the project to hear and respond to public comments. Publication of the notice shall be no fewer times than required by Section 6061 of the Government Code and shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the project.
(d) If the lead agency determines that a project is not subject to this division pursuant to this section, and the lead agency determines to approve or carry out that project, the lead agency shall file a notice of exemption with the Office of Planning and Research and the county clerk in the county in which the project is located in the manner specified in subdivisions (b) and (c) of Section 21152.
(e) The application and implementation of this section shall be limited to the purposes of this division.
(f) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2025, and as of that date is repealed.