California Environmental Quality Act

CEQA, or the California Environmental Quality Act, is a statute that requires state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible. Click here to learn more about CEQA

How does CEQA work and how can the public participate?  For info and guidelines on Commenting Effectively on Environmental Documents, click here

CEQA Flow Chart
To view a flow chart illustrating the CEQA process, click here.

CEQA Legislative Intent
The Legislature finds and declares as follows:

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

(b) It is necessary to provide a high-quality environment that at all times is healthful and pleasing to the senses and intellect of man.

(c) There is a need to understand the relationship between the maintenance of high-quality ecological systems and the general welfare of the people of the state, including their enjoyment of the natural resources of the state.

(d) The capacity of the environment is limited, and it is the intent of the Legislature that the government of the state take immediate steps to identify any critical thresholds for the health and safety of the people of the state and take all coordinated actions necessary to prevent such thresholds being reached.

(e) Every citizen has a responsibility to contribute to the preservation and enhancement of the environment.

(f) The interrelationship of policies and practices in the management of natural resources and waste disposal requires systematic and concerted efforts by public and private interests to enhance environmental quality and to control environmental pollution.

(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.

Click to visit the CEQA Website for more information

Although planning staff can assist decision makers, elected officials should make themselves aware of the law.  Informed choices make good decisions.

What is a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND)?

Is There Significant Environmental Impact?
When a project is proposed, under State and local law, CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act) is put into effect and the County becomes what is defined as the Lead Agency. The Lead Agency (in our case, Calaveras County Board of Supervisors) makes a decision as to whether or not the project will have a significant environmental impact. If so, the developer is required to perform an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

Mitigated Negative Declaration
Often, instead of this, the Lead Agency can approve a project under a Mitigated Negative Declaration (Mitigated Neg Dec or MND). A Mitigated Neg Dec is associated with a project that has certain "agreed upon" built-in mitigation measures. This allows the project to be considered as having less than significant environmental impact and thus no EIR is required. This is often faster and less expensive than producing an EIR.

Example of a Mitigation Requirement
For example, for a particular project, it could be determined that too many oak trees would be removed. In a Mitigated Neg Dec, the Lead Agency could require that the developer plant new trees to replace those that would be removed due to the development. In this case, with the tree planting, the Lead Agency determines that there would be no significant environmental impact; thus, no EIR would be required. In this example, planting the new trees is a mitigation requirement.

Who Enforces the Mitigated Neg Dec?
If a Lead Agency adopts a Mitigated Negative Declaration which includes provisions to mitigate significant environmental impacts, then the Lead agency must also ensure compliance with all mitigation measures.  For example, if a provision required that the developer obtain permits from another government agency (such as the US Army Corp of Engineers wetlands or Fish & Wildlife endangered species permit), then the Lead Agency would be required by law to ensure that the permits were obtained.

Click on the link for more information on the Negative Declaration Process

CEQA Title 14, Article 6:  Negative Declaration Process.


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