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AB-586 California Environmental Quality Act: exemption: special housing projects.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 03/07/2019 09:00 PM
AB586:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  March 07, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 586


Introduced by Assembly Member Diep

February 14, 2019


An act to amend Section 21002.1 21159.21 of the Public Resources Code, relating to environmental quality.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 586, as amended, Diep. California Environmental Quality Act: environmental impact reports: policy. exemption: special housing projects.
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires a lead agency, as defined, to prepare, or cause to be prepared, and certify the completion of, an environmental impact report on a project that it proposes to carry out or approve that may have a significant effect on the environment or to adopt a negative declaration if it finds that the project will not have that effect. CEQA also requires a lead agency to prepare a mitigated negative declaration for a project that may have a significant effect on the environment if revisions in the project would avoid or mitigate that effect and there is no substantial evidence that the project, as revised, would have a significant effect on the environment. CEQA makes various legislative findings and declarations relating to the policy that shall apply to the use of environmental impact reports prepared under CEQA.
CEQA exempts certain housing projects from its requirements if the project meets certain criteria, including that the project site is not located within the boundaries of a state conservancy.
This bill would make nonsubstantive changes to the findings and declarations. delete that specific criteria.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NOYES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 21159.21 of the Public Resources Code is amended to read:

21159.21.
 A housing project qualifies for an exemption from this division pursuant to Section 21159.22, 21159.23, or 21159.24 if it meets the criteria in the applicable section and all of the following criteria:
(a) The project is consistent with any applicable general plan, specific plan, and local coastal program, including any mitigation measures required by a plan or program, as that plan or program existed on the date that the application was deemed complete and with any applicable zoning ordinance, as that zoning ordinance existed on the date that the application was deemed complete, except that a project shall not be deemed to be inconsistent with the zoning designation for the site if that zoning designation is inconsistent with the general plan only because the project site has not been rezoned to conform with a more recently adopted general plan.
(b) Community-level environmental review has been adopted or certified.
(c) The project and other projects approved prior to before the approval of the project can be adequately served by existing utilities, and the project applicant has paid, or has committed to pay, all applicable in-lieu or development fees.
(d) The site of the project does not contain wetlands, does not have any value as a wildlife habitat, and the project does not harm any species protected by the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. Sec. 1531 et seq.) or by the Native Plant Protection Act (Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 1900) of Division 2 of the Fish and Game Code), the California Endangered Species Act (Chapter 1.5 (commencing with Section 2050) of Division 3 of the Fish and Game Code), and the project does not cause the destruction or removal of any species protected by a local ordinance in effect at the time the application for the project was deemed complete. For the purposes of this subdivision, “wetlands” has the same meaning as in Section 328.3 of Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations and “wildlife habitat” means the ecological communities upon which wild animals, birds, plants, fish, amphibians, and invertebrates depend for their conservation and protection.
(e) The site of the project is not included on any list of facilities and sites compiled pursuant to Section 65962.5 of the Government Code.
(f) (1) The site of the project is subject to a preliminary endangerment assessment prepared by an environmental assessor to determine the existence of any release of a hazardous substance on the site and to determine the potential for exposure of future occupants to significant health hazards from any nearby property or activity.

(1)

(2) If a release of a hazardous substance is found to exist on the site, the release shall be removed, or any significant effects of the release shall be mitigated to a level of insignificance in compliance with state and federal requirements.

(2)

(3) If a potential for exposure to significant hazards from surrounding properties or activities is found to exist, the effects of the potential exposure shall be mitigated to a level of insignificance in compliance with state and federal requirements.
(g) The project does not have a significant effect on historical resources pursuant to Section 21084.1.
(h) The project site is not subject to any of the following:
(1) A wildland fire hazard, as determined by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, unless the applicable general plan or zoning ordinance contains provisions to mitigate the risk of a wildland fire hazard.
(2) An unusually high risk of fire or explosion from materials stored or used on nearby properties.
(3) Risk of a public health exposure at a level that would exceed the standards established by any state or federal agency.
(4) Within a delineated earthquake fault zone, as determined pursuant to Section 2622, or a seismic hazard zone, as determined pursuant to Section 2696, unless the applicable general plan or zoning ordinance contains provisions to mitigate the risk of an earthquake fault or seismic hazard zone.
(5) Landslide hazard, flood plain, flood way, or restriction zone, unless the applicable general plan or zoning ordinance contains provisions to mitigate the risk of a landslide or flood.
(i) (1) The project site is not located on developed open space.
(2) For the purposes of this subdivision, “developed open space” means land that meets all of the following criteria:
(A) Is publicly owned, or financed in whole or in part by public funds.
(B) Is generally open to, and available for use by, the public.
(C) Is predominantly lacking in structural development other than structures associated with open spaces, including, but not limited to, playgrounds, swimming pools, ballfields, enclosed child play areas, and picnic facilities.
(3) For the purposes of this subdivision, “developed open space” includes land that has been designated for acquisition by a public agency for developed open space, but does not include lands acquired by public funds dedicated to the acquisition of land for housing purposes.

(j)The project site is not located within the boundaries of a state conservancy.

SECTION 1.Section 21002.1 of the Public Resources Code is amended to read:
21002.1.

In order to achieve the objectives set forth in Section 21002, the Legislature hereby finds and declares that the following policy shall apply to the use of environmental impact reports prepared pursuant to this division:

(a)The purpose of an environmental impact report is to identify the significant effects on the environment of a project, to identify alternatives to the project, and to indicate the manner in which those significant effects can be mitigated or avoided.

(b)Each public agency shall mitigate or avoid the significant effects on the environment of projects that it carries out or approves whenever it is feasible to do so.

(c)If economic, social, or other conditions make it infeasible to mitigate one or more significant effects on the environment of a project, the project may nonetheless be carried out or approved at the discretion of a public agency if the project is otherwise permissible under applicable laws and regulations.

(d)In applying the policies of subdivisions (b) and (c) to individual projects, the responsibility of the lead agency shall differ from that of a responsible agency. The lead agency shall be responsible for considering the effects, both individual and collective, of all activities involved in a project. A responsible agency shall be responsible for considering only the effects of those activities involved in a project that it is required by law to carry out or approve. This subdivision applies only to decisions by a public agency to carry out or approve a project and does not otherwise affect the scope of the comments that the public agency may wish to make pursuant to Section 21104 or 21153.

(e)To provide more meaningful public disclosure, reduce the time and cost required to prepare an environmental impact report, and focus on potentially significant effects on the environment of a proposed project, lead agencies shall, in accordance with Section 21100, focus the discussion in the environmental impact report on those potential effects on the environment of a proposed project that the lead agency has determined are or may be significant. Lead agencies may limit discussion on other effects to a brief explanation as to why those effects are not potentially significant.