Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO:

 

HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

FROM:

 

DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

DATE:

 

SEPTEMBER 17, 2002

SUBJECT:

 

ADOPTION OF REVISED LOCAL CEQA GUIDELINES (PLANNING CASE NO. ZON2002-00433)

Staff Coordinator: Kit Fox, AICP, Senior Planner

RECOMMENDATION

Adopt Resolution No. 2002-__, adopting revised Local CEQA Guidelines.

BACKGROUND

In accordance with Public Resources Code Section 21082, "[all] public agencies shall adopt…objectives, criteria and procedures for the evaluation of projects and the preparation of environmental impact reports and negative declarations." Furthermore, "[the] objectives, criteria and procedures shall be consistent with…the Guidelines adopted by the Secretary of the Resources Agency pursuant to [Public Resources Code] Section 21083." State laws also calls upon public agencies to update their local CEQA Guidelines periodically to maintain consistency with the State CEQA Guidelines.

On August 1, 2002, the City Attorney’s office advised Planning Staff of the need for the City to adopt revised Local CEQA Guidelines. Updated Guidelines were last adopted by the City Council in 1993. Therefore, the City Attorney’s office has prepared draft Guidelines for consideration by the City Council at tonight’s meeting. Also, please note that Staff will be presenting these Guidelines for the consideration of the Redevelopment Agency Board at a future Board meeting.

DISCUSSION

The following is a summary of the key changes to the State CEQA Guidelines that have been incorporated into the revised Local CEQA Guidelines, with the corresponding page numbers in the attached Exhibit ‘A’ noted:

New Initial Study Checklist (pages I-1 through I-19): The new checklist (Appendix I) reorganizes the questions, sets forth thresholds for determining the significance of impacts, and references new standards and regulations to be considered in determining levels of significance.

Archaeological and Historical Resources (pages R-1 through R-4): This new appendix (Appendix R) replaces several previous sections of the State Guidelines.

In-Fill Development (page E-12): A new categorical exemption (Class 32) has been adopted by the state for so-called "in-fill development." To qualify for this exemption, a project must be consistent with the City’s General Plan and Development Code, and must:

  1. be located within City limits;
  2. be no more than five acres in size;
  3. be substantially surrounded by urban uses;
  4. have no value as habitat; and,
  5. be adequately served by all required public utilities and services.

Tiering of EIR’s (pages 45 to 46 and C-1 through C-3): The process for tiering environmental review has been substantially modified by the State, including allowing negative declarations (ND’s) to be tiered from environmental impact reports (EIR’s).

Recirculation of Negative Declarations (page 19 to 20): The State now requires the recirculation of a negative declaration if it has been "substantially revised" after the release of the Notice of Intent (NOI).

Environmental Setting and Baseline Conditions (page 26): In describing the environmental setting of a project, the baseline condition for determining the significance environmental impacts is now defined as the physical condition of the environmental at the time of the publication of the Notice of Preparation (NOP).

Cumulative Impacts Analysis (pages 1, 12, 27 through 29 and 46): The State has clarified and narrowed the scope of the analysis of cumulative impacts in EIR’s by revising several provisions of the State Guidelines.

Discussion of Alternatives (pages 32 through 36): The State has revised the factors that may be considered in eliminating an alternative from detailed discussion in an EIR to include:

  1. failure to meet most of the basic project objectives;
  2. infeasibility; and,
  3. inability to avoid significant adverse impacts.

The State has also revised standards for the description of the "no project" alternative.

Response to Comments on a Revised EIR (page 40): The State has established two methods for responding to comments when an EIR has been recirculated, depending upon whether the EIR has been substantially revised in whole or only revised in part.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

It should be noted that the intent of adopting these revised Local CEQA Guidelines is to bring the City’s current Local CEQA Guidelines up to date with changes to the State CEQA Guidelines that have been enacted over the past few years. Environmental documents that have been processed over the past few years, such as the recently-certified Long Point EIR, have been prepared so as to be consistent with the changes in the State CEQA Guidelines that are discussed above.

In addition to these revised Local CEQA Guidelines, Staff is also working on the preparation of Local CEQA Implementation Guidelines. The Implementation Guidelines are intended to serve as a tool for Staff, citizens, decision-makers and members of the development community to help each one understand their respective role(s) in the City’s CEQA process. Staff is working to complete the draft Implementation Guidelines later this year.

CONCLUSION

The City Attorney’s office has prepared the attached draft Local CEQA Guidelines to reflect key changes in the State Guidelines over the past few years. The adoption of these revised Guidelines will assist Staff, residents, decision makers and project applicants in better understanding and fulfilling the obligations imposed by CEQA.

FISCAL IMPACT

There is no fiscal impact as a result of adopting (or failing to adopt) the revised Local CEQA Guidelines.

ALTERNATIVES

In addition to Staff’s recommendation, the following alternatives are available for the City Council’s consideration:

  1. Based upon City Council discussion and public testimony, the City Council may direct Staff to revise the draft Guidelines, and re-agendize the revised draft Guidelines for adoption on a future date certain.
  2. The City Council may decide not to adopt the revised Guidelines, in which case the Guidelines last adopted in 1993 will remain in effect.

Respectfully submitted:

Joel Rojas, AICP, Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement

Reviewed:

Les Evans, City Manager

Attachments:

Resolution No. 2002-___
Draft Local CEQA Guidelines (Exhibit ‘A’)
Letter from the City Attorney

RESOLUTION NO. 2002-__

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES REPEALING RESOLUTION NO. 93-56 AND ADOPTING PROCEDURES IMPLEMENTING THE CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY ACT (CEQA), AND THE GUIDELINES OF THE SECRETARY OF THE RESOURCES AGENCY, AS AMENDED TO DATE

THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES DOES HEREBY FIND, ORDER, AND RESOLVE AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1: Resolution No. 93-56, and any other resolution or action of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes which adopts Local CEQA Guidelines for the City, are hereby repealed.

Section 2: In accordance with Public Resources Code Section 21082, the City Council hereby adopts the procedures attached to this Resolution as Exhibit "A" and labeled "Local CEQA Guidelines (Revised September 2002)" and incorporated herein by this reference as its Guidelines for the consideration and evaluation of projects and the preparation of Environmental Impact Reports and Negative Declarations in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, as amended to date, and the Guidelines of the Secretary of the Resources Agency, as amended to date.

PASSED, APPROVED, AND ADOPTED this __th day of ________ 2002.

__________________________
MAYOR

ATTEST:
_______________________________
CITY CLERK
STATE OF CALIFORNIA )
COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES ) ss
CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES )

I, JO PURCELL, City Clerk of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, do hereby certify that the above Resolution No. 2002-__ was duly and regularly passed and adopted by the said City Council at a regular meeting thereof held on __________, 2002.

__________________________
City Clerk
City of Rancho Palos Verdes