Environmental Review under CEQA
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is a California statute passed in 1970 to require state and local agencies to follow a protocol of analysis and public disclosure of environmental impacts of proposed projects and adopt all feasible measures to mitigate those impacts.
After an initial study is completed, the lead agency can determine if a project could have a significant impact on the environment. The lead agency may propose mitigation measures to reduce any impacts to less than significant in a draft Negative Declaration or Mitigated Negative Declaration document and publishes the document for public review.
An Important Tool for SCVAS
Reviewing and commenting on CEQA documents is an important tool for ensuring that projects do not adversely affect the environment and habitats for birds in the Bay Area. Our SCVAS Environmental Advocate reviews these documents and then submits comment letters to lead agencies to highlight issues that effect our mission.
We joined with other groups to write a comment letter (November 2012) to the Assistant General Counsel of the California Natural Resources Agency to delete the definition of "substantially mitigate" o, to clarify the pertinent section of the Proposed State CEQA Guideline.
Mitigation Monitoring: Losing What We Thought We Gained (PDF) analyses whether agreed-upon mitigations that offset negative environmental impacts of development projects were completed.
Our Comments Recently Submitted
Bridges over Stevens Creek. SCVAS provided comments (January 2013) to the Mountain View City Council about the new Google campus development footprint at Bay View, including the siting and use of the proposed bridges over Stevens Creek. This follows previous comments (March 2012) that highlighted the inadequacy of Google's CEQA review for this project.
San Francisquito Creek project. SCVAS submitted Draft EIR comments (September 2012) to the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority about this project for flood reduction, ecosystem restoration, and recreation from San Francisco Bay to Highway 101. We raised concerns and made recommendations about Clapper Rail and Black Rail shelter loss, bird collisions with power lines, use of herbicides and insecticides, floodwall construction, and bird watching enhancements. In response to these comments made by SCVAS, the Final EIR includes additional environmental commitments related to Safe Use of Herbicides and Pesticides within Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse and/or rail habitat.
Weed and pest management in open space preserves in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District released a Draft Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS/MND) on a "Site Specific Weed and Pest Management Project". The District will be implementing pest and weed management practices on specific sites within open space preserves in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties aiming to contain and end the spread of invasive weed and pest species within the open space preserves. SCVAS wrote a comment letter (May 2012) asking for a precautionary approach when using herbicides (such as Round-Up) near any water bodies that may contain native amphibians; regardless of threatened, endangered, or other special status. The District responded by amending its best management practices to distinguish clearly that herbicide treatments will not be used within fifteen feet of any aquatic feature.
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CEQA Documents Defined
An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is an informational document that will inform the agency decision-makers and the public of the significant environmental effects of the project, possible ways to minimize significant effects, and reasonable alternatives to the project.
A Negative Declaration (ND) is a written statement, usually prepared by the lead agency, describing the reasons that a proposed project will not have a significant effect on the environment, and does not require the preparation of an EIR.
A Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) is a negative declaration (ND) that incorporates revisions (mitigation measures) in the proposed project that will avoid or mitigate impacts to a point where clearly no significant impacts on the environment would occur.
Read more about CEQA
CEQA backgound information and definitions supplied by:
California Environmental Quality Act. (2011, September 23). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Read more.
California Natural Resources Agency, CEQA: The California Environmental Quality Act.
How you can help!
• There are many CEQA documents to track and review covering many different local projects. Contact our Environmental Advocate if you would like to help review projects that interest you.
• You can help with these or other projects that interest you by becoming a Volunteer for Conservation. We have many ways that you can help from writing letters to joining our Environmental Action Committee (EAC).
• Make a tax-deductible donation to support these and other local conservation efforts.
Updated September 2012