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

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Date Published: 08/13/2019 10:00 AM
AB394:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  August 13, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  June 13, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 02, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 394


Introduced by Assembly Member Obernolte
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Gallagher, Mathis, and Wood)

February 06, 2019


An act to add and repeal Section 21080.53 of the Public Resources Code, relating to environmental quality.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 394, as amended, Obernolte. California Environmental Quality Act: exemption: egress route project or activity: projects: fire safety.
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.
This bill would, until January 1, 2025, exempt from CEQA egress route projects or activities undertaken by a public agency that are specifically recommended by the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection that improve the fire safety of an existing subdivision if certain conditions are met. The bill would require the lead agency to hold a noticed public meeting to hear and respond to public comments before determining that a project or activity is exempt. The bill would require the lead agency to file a notice of exemption with the Office of Planning and Research and with the clerk of the county in which the project or activity will be located.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

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

21080.53.
 (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 or activity 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 or activity does not contain wetlands or riparian areas.
(4) The project or activity does not harm 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 or activity does not cause the destruction or removal of any species protected by an applicable local ordinance.
(6) The project or activity 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 or activity involves substantial tree removal, as determined by the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, the entity carrying out the project or activity shall have a registered professional forester or the forester’s designee on site onsite during the implementation of the project or activity to assist with resource identification and protection. The registered professional forester or the forester’s designee shall only be required on site onsite only on days during which trees are removed.
(11) The entity carrying out the project or activity 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 or activity 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, early in the design of the project or activity. 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 or activity is not subject to this division pursuant to this section, the lead agency shall hold a noticed public meeting on the project or activity 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 or activity. project.
(d) If the lead agency determines that a project or activity 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 or activity 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.

(e)

(f) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2025, and as of that date is repealed.