CEQA Streamlining Opportunities

Overview

CEQA Streamlining Opportunities

The State now recognizes the potential for CEQA streamlining as a means of reducing a key regulatory barrier to producing housing. There are a variety of avenues for housing projects to receive CEQA relief, including SB 375 (PRC 21155.1), SB 226 (PRC 21094.5), SB 35, Infill Housing (PRC 21159.24 and 21159.25), Specific Plan (GC 65457), Tiering (Guideline 15183), Class 32 (Guideline 15332), and Class 3 (Guideline 15303) exemptions. These opportunities and others are outlined in a 2018 CEQA Review of Housing Projects Technical Advisory released by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

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SB 375 CEQA Streamlining
CEQA Streamlining for Land Use Projects Consistent with the SCS

SB 375 provides several CEQA reform provisions. These include streamlined review and analysis of residential or mixed-use projects consistent with the SCS; modified review and analysis, through an expedited Sustainable Communities Environmental Assessment (SCEA), for Transit Priority Projects (TPPs) that are consistent with the SCS; and a complete CEQA exemption for TPPs that are consistent with the SCS and meet a specific list of other requirements. In each of these cases, this MTP/SCS EIR will serve as a first-tier environmental document under CEQA.

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SB 35 CEQA Streamlining

California Senate Bill 35 (SB 35) creates a new streamlined approval process for multifamily residential projects in cities and counties not meeting their Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) goal.  SB 35, which took effect January 1, 2018 requires local entities to streamline the approval of certain housing projects by providing a ministerial approval process (no CEQA), focused design review, and remove or lower parking requirements. This is a voluntary program that a project sponsor may elect to pursue, provided that certain eligibility criteria are met.