Code Section Group

Public Resources Code - PRC

DIVISION 13. ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY [21000 - 21189.57]

  ( Division 13 added by Stats. 1970, Ch. 1433. )

CHAPTER 4.2. Implementation of the Sustainable Communities Strategy [21155 - 21155.4]
  ( Chapter 4.2 added by Stats. 2008, Ch. 728, Sec. 14. )

21155.
  

(a) This chapter applies only to a transit priority project that is consistent with the general use designation, density, building intensity, and applicable policies specified for the project area in either a sustainable communities strategy or an alternative planning strategy, for which the State Air Resources Board, pursuant to subparagraph (H) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 65080 of the Government Code, has accepted a metropolitan planning organization’s determination that the sustainable communities strategy or the alternative planning strategy would, if implemented, achieve the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

(b) For purposes of this chapter, a transit priority project shall (1) contain at least 50 percent residential use, based on total building square footage and, if the project contains between 26 percent and 50 percent nonresidential uses, a floor area ratio of not less than 0.75; (2) provide a minimum net density of at least 20 dwelling units per acre; and (3) be within one-half mile of a major transit stop or high-quality transit corridor included in a regional transportation plan. A major transit stop is as defined in Section 21064.3, except that, for purposes of this section, it also includes major transit stops that are included in the applicable regional transportation plan. For purposes of this section, a high-quality transit corridor means a corridor with fixed route bus service with service intervals no longer than 15 minutes during peak commute hours. A project shall be considered to be within one-half mile of a major transit stop or high-quality transit corridor if all parcels within the project have no more than 25 percent of their area farther than one-half mile from the stop or corridor and if not more than 10 percent of the residential units or 100 units, whichever is less, in the project are farther than one-half mile from the stop or corridor.

(Added by Stats. 2008, Ch. 728, Sec. 14. Effective January 1, 2009.)

21155.1.
  

If the legislative body finds, after conducting a public hearing, that a transit priority project meets all of the requirements of subdivisions (a) and (b) and one of the requirements of subdivision (c), the transit priority project is declared to be a sustainable communities project and shall be exempt from this division.

(a) The transit priority project complies with all of the following environmental criteria:

(1) The transit priority project and other projects approved prior to the approval of the transit priority project but not yet built can be adequately served by existing utilities, and the transit priority project applicant has paid, or has committed to pay, all applicable in-lieu or development fees.

(2) (A) The site of the transit priority project does not contain wetlands or riparian areas and does not have significant value as a wildlife habitat, and the transit priority project 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), or 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.

(B) For the purposes of this paragraph, “wetlands” has the same meaning as in the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Manual, Part 660 FW 2 (June 21, 1993).

(C) For the purposes of this paragraph:

(i) “Riparian areas” means those areas transitional between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and that are distinguished by gradients in biophysical conditions, ecological processes, and biota. A riparian area is an area through which surface and subsurface hydrology connect waterbodies with their adjacent uplands. A riparian area includes those portions of terrestrial ecosystems that significantly influence exchanges of energy and matter with aquatic ecosystems. A riparian area is adjacent to perennial, intermittent, and ephemeral streams, lakes, and estuarine-marine shorelines.

(ii) “Wildlife habitat” means the ecological communities upon which wild animals, birds, plants, fish, amphibians, and invertebrates depend for their conservation and protection.

(iii) Habitat of “significant value” includes wildlife habitat of national, statewide, regional, or local importance; habitat for species protected by the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. Sec. 1531, et seq.), the California Endangered Species Act (Chapter 1.5 (commencing with Section 2050) of Division 3 of the Fish and Game Code), or the Native Plant Protection Act (Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 1900) of Division 2 of the Fish and Game Code); habitat identified as candidate, fully protected, sensitive, or species of special status by local, state, or federal agencies; or habitat essential to the movement of resident or migratory wildlife.

(3) The site of the transit priority project is not included on any list of facilities and sites compiled pursuant to Section 65962.5 of the Government Code.

(4) The site of the transit priority 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.

(A) 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.

(B) 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.

(5) The transit priority project does not have a significant effect on historical resources pursuant to Section 21084.1.

(6) The transit priority project site is not subject to any of the following:

(A) 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.

(B) An unusually high risk of fire or explosion from materials stored or used on nearby properties.

(C) Risk of a public health exposure at a level that would exceed the standards established by any state or federal agency.

(D) Seismic risk as a result of being 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.

(E) 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.

(7) The transit priority project site is not located on developed open space.

(A) For the purposes of this paragraph, “developed open space” means land that meets all of the following criteria:

(i) Is publicly owned, or financed in whole or in part by public funds.

(ii) Is generally open to, and available for use by, the public.

(iii) 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.

(B) For the purposes of this paragraph, “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 with public funds dedicated to the acquisition of land for housing purposes.

(8) The buildings in the transit priority project are 15 percent more energy efficient than required by Chapter 6 of Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations and the buildings and landscaping are designed to achieve 25 percent less water usage than the average household use in the region.

(b) The transit priority project meets all of the following land use criteria:

(1) The site of the transit priority project is not more than eight acres in total area.

(2) The transit priority project does not contain more than 200 residential units.

(3) The transit priority project does not result in any net loss in the number of affordable housing units within the project area.

(4) The transit priority project does not include any single level building that exceeds 75,000 square feet.

(5) Any applicable mitigation measures or performance standards or criteria set forth in the prior environmental impact reports, and adopted in findings, have been or will be incorporated into the transit priority project.

(6) The transit priority project is determined not to conflict with nearby operating industrial uses.

(7) The transit priority project is located within one-half mile of a rail transit station or a ferry terminal included in a regional transportation plan or within one-quarter mile of a high-quality transit corridor included in a regional transportation plan.

(c) The transit priority project meets at least one of the following three criteria:

(1) The transit priority project meets both of the following:

(A) At least 20 percent of the housing will be sold to families of moderate income, or not less than 10 percent of the housing will be rented to families of low income, or not less than 5 percent of the housing is rented to families of very low income.

(B) The transit priority project developer provides sufficient legal commitments to the appropriate local agency to ensure the continued availability and use of the housing units for very low, low-, and moderate-income households at monthly housing costs with an affordable housing cost or affordable rent, as defined in Section 50052.5 or 50053 of the Health and Safety Code, respectively, for the period required by the applicable financing. Rental units shall be affordable for at least 55 years. Ownership units shall be subject to resale restrictions or equity sharing requirements for at least 30 years.

(2) The transit priority project developer has paid or will pay in-lieu fees pursuant to a local ordinance in an amount sufficient to result in the development of an equivalent number of units that would otherwise be required pursuant to paragraph (1).

(3) The transit priority project provides public open space equal to or greater than five acres per 1,000 residents of the project.

(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 39, Sec. 95. (SB 1018) Effective June 27, 2012.)

21155.2.
  

(a) A transit priority project that has incorporated all feasible mitigation measures, performance standards, or criteria set forth in the prior applicable environmental impact reports and adopted in findings made pursuant to Section 21081, shall be eligible for either the provisions of subdivision (b) or (c).

(b) A transit priority project that satisfies the requirements of subdivision (a) may be reviewed through a sustainable communities environmental assessment as follows:

(1) An initial study shall be prepared to identify all significant or potentially significant impacts of the transit priority project, other than those which do not need to be reviewed pursuant to Section 21159.28 based on substantial evidence in light of the whole record. The initial study shall identify any cumulative effects that have been adequately addressed and mitigated pursuant to the requirements of this division in prior applicable certified environmental impact reports. Where the lead agency determines that a cumulative effect has been adequately addressed and mitigated, that cumulative effect shall not be treated as cumulatively considerable for the purposes of this subdivision.

(2) The sustainable communities environmental assessment shall contain measures that either avoid or mitigate to a level of insignificance all potentially significant or significant effects of the project required to be identified in the initial study.

(3) A draft of the sustainable communities environmental assessment shall be circulated for public comment for a period of not less than 30 days. Notice shall be provided in the same manner as required for an environmental impact report pursuant to Section 21092.

(4) Prior to acting on the sustainable communities environmental assessment, the lead agency shall consider all comments received.

(5) A sustainable communities environmental assessment may be approved by the lead agency after conducting a public hearing, reviewing the comments received, and finding that:

(A) All potentially significant or significant effects required to be identified in the initial study have been identified and analyzed.

(B) With respect to each significant effect on the environment required to be identified in the initial study, either of the following apply:

(i) Changes or alterations have been required in or incorporated into the project that avoid or mitigate the significant effects to a level of insignificance.

(ii) Those changes or alterations are within the responsibility and jurisdiction of another public agency and have been, or can and should be, adopted by that other agency.

(6) The legislative body of the lead agency shall conduct the public hearing or a planning commission may conduct the public hearing if local ordinances allow a direct appeal of approval of a document prepared pursuant to this division to the legislative body subject to a fee not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500).

(7) The lead agency’s decision to review and approve a transit priority project with a sustainable communities environmental assessment shall be reviewed under the substantial evidence standard.

(c) A transit priority project that satisfies the requirements of subdivision (a) may be reviewed by an environmental impact report that complies with all of the following:

(1) An initial study shall be prepared to identify all significant or potentially significant effects of the transit priority project other than those that do not need to be reviewed pursuant to Section 21159.28 based upon substantial evidence in light of the whole record. The initial study shall identify any cumulative effects that have been adequately addressed and mitigated pursuant to the requirements of this division in prior applicable certified environmental impact reports. Where the lead agency determines that a cumulative effect has been adequately addressed and mitigated, that cumulative effect shall not be treated as cumulatively considerable for the purposes of this subdivision.

(2) An environmental impact report prepared pursuant to this subdivision need only address the significant or potentially significant effects of the transit priority project on the environment identified pursuant to paragraph (1). It is not required to analyze off-site alternatives to the transit priority project. It shall otherwise comply with the requirements of this division.

(Added by Stats. 2008, Ch. 728, Sec. 14. Effective January 1, 2009.)

21155.3.
  

(a) The legislative body of a local jurisdiction may adopt traffic mitigation measures that would apply to transit priority projects. These measures shall be adopted or amended after a public hearing and may include requirements for the installation of traffic control improvements, street or road improvements, and contributions to road improvement or transit funds, transit passes for future residents, or other measures that will avoid or mitigate the traffic impacts of those transit priority projects.

(b) (1) A transit priority project that is seeking a discretionary approval is not required to comply with any additional mitigation measures required by paragraph (1) or (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 21081, for the traffic impacts of that project on intersections, streets, highways, freeways, or mass transit, if the local jurisdiction issuing that discretionary approval has adopted traffic mitigation measures in accordance with this section.

(2) Paragraph (1) does not restrict the authority of a local jurisdiction to adopt feasible mitigation measures with respect to the effects of a project on public health or on pedestrian or bicycle safety.

(c) The legislative body shall review its traffic mitigation measures and update them as needed at least every five years.

(Added by Stats. 2008, Ch. 728, Sec. 14. Effective January 1, 2009.)

21155.4.
  

(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), a residential, employment center, as defined in paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 21099, or mixed-use development project, including any subdivision, or any zoning, change that meets all of the following criteria is exempt from the requirements of this division:

(1) The project is proposed within a transit priority area, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 21099.

(2) The project is undertaken to implement and is consistent with a specific plan for which an environmental impact report has been certified.

(3) The project is consistent with the general use designation, density, building intensity, and applicable policies specified for the project area in either a sustainable communities strategy or an alternative planning strategy for which the State Air Resources Board, pursuant to subparagraph (H) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 65080 of the Government Code, has accepted a metropolitan planning organization’s determination that the sustainable communities strategy or the alternative planning strategy would, if implemented, achieve the greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

(b) Further environmental review shall be conducted only if any of the events specified in Section 21166 have occurred.

(Added by Stats. 2013, Ch. 386, Sec. 6. (SB 743) Effective January 1, 2014.)

PRCPublic Resources Code - PRC