Repetitive CEQA review and analysis is expensive, unnecessary, unproductive, and inimical to the goals of certainty and finality in the environmental review process.  In 2011, to address these concerns in the infill development context, the legislature enacted SB 226 adding Public Resources Code §§ 21094.5 and 21094.5.5 to CEQA.  These sections provided for streamlined CEQA review for qualifying “infill” projects and directed OPR to prepare, and to transmit to the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency for adoption, implementing guidelines.

Under the authorizing legislation, a qualifying “infill project” is one that includes residential, retail/commercial, transit, school, and/or public office buildings and is “located within an urban area on a site that has been previously developed, or on a vacant site where at least 75 percent of the perimeter of the site adjoins, or is separated only by an improved public right-of-way from, parcels that are developed with qualified urban uses.”  (Pub. Resources Code, § 21094.5(e)(1)(B)).  The legislation further provides that “[a] lead agency’s determination pursuant to this section shall be supported by substantial evidence.”  (§ 21094.5(a)(1).)Continue Reading Towards Not Reinventing The CEQA Wheel: Resources Agency Adopts New CEQA Guidelines For Streamlined Review of Urban Infill Development

In a series of decisions that had agency planners and environmental consultants scratching their heads, various courts of appeal last year held that every CEQA document must take account of existing conditions in assessing environmental impacts.  (See Sunnyvale West Neighborhood Assoc. v. City of Sunnyvale City Council (6th Dist. 2010) 190 Cal.App.4th 1351; Pfeiffer v.