CEQA – Requiring Public Agencies to “Look Before They Leap”

Protection of the environment and reducing environmental impacts is public policy.

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), beginning with section 21000 of the Public Resources Code, declares

“(a) The maintenance of a quality environment for the people of this state now and in the future is a matter of statewide concern,” and that

“(g) It is the intent of the Legislature that all agencies of the state government which regulate activities of private individuals, corporations, and public agencies which are found to affect the quality of the environment, shall regulate such activities so that major consideration is given to preventing environmental damage, while providing a decent home and satisfying living environment for every Californian.”

Consideration of potential significant direct or indirect impacts or changes to the environment is required when the District undertakes a “project” as defined by CEQA.

CEQA generally defines a “project” as an activity that may cause either a direct physical change in the environment, or a reasonably foreseeable indirect change in the environment, and is discretionary (Continuing administrative and operational activities such as personnel actions, purchases of supplies, etc., are not projects).

The District is considered the lead agency for its own projects, meaning it must make the determination as to whether there is the potential for a significant environmental impact, and must undertake the appropriate studies if required and make the determination of project impacts, if any.

Regulatory guidance for implementing CEQA evaluations is contained in the CEQA Guidelines, in Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations. The Guidelines provide certain statutory and categorical exemptions to CEQA. If a project qualifies for an exemption, a Notice of Exemption is approved and filed.

If a project is not exempt, an Initial Study must be conducted to determine potential significant environmental effects. If there are none, then a Negative Declaration is approved and filed. If there are potential significant effects, that can be mitigated below a level of significance, then a Mitigated Negative Declaration is approved and filed, incorporating mitigation measures into the project.

If there are potential significant effects that cannot be mitigated an Environmental Impact Report process must be undertaken.


For more information, please contact:

Melinda Pure Director, Education Solutions Group / Facilities Support Services

C 909.904.7112 (cell) E Melinda@EHandA.com