Office of Planning and Research Releases Technical Advisory on Statutory Exemptions from CEQA

The California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”), includes a number of specific statutory exemptions from the CEQA process. (Pub. Resources Code, § 21000 et seq.) The CEQA Guidelines include a list of project types which do not have a significant environmental impact, and are therefore categorically exempt from review. (Pub. Resources Code § 21084(a); Cal. Code Regs., tit. 14, §15300-15333.) There are also some exceptions to the exemptions, which generally exist for situations where otherwise exempt projects are likely to have a significant environmental impact. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 14, §15300.2.) Because CEQA review can be a lengthy and involved process, actions that fall within an exemption can save an organization valuable time and resources.

Public agencies most commonly use the exceptions listed in CEQA or the CEQA Guidelines. In an effort to assist interested parties in identifying and using additional exemptions, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (“OPR”) released a Technical Advisory on June 6, 2018 that provides a list of 52 CEQA exemptions outside of CEQA.

The Technical Advisory notes that the list is not exhaustive, but it nevertheless creates a helpful resource that agencies and other organizations can consult prior to initiating the CEQA process to see if the proposed project is exempt. The Technical Advisory identifies and includes the full text of each statutory exemption. Exemptions relevant to land use and public agencies include:

Public Resources Code

  • § 2770(h)(1) (requiring interim management plans for idle surface mining operations)
  • § 2773.4(f) (review of financial assurance for reclamation plans and conduct of surface mining operations)
  • § 5097.98(g) (implementing agreements related to addressing Native American human remains)
  • § 8710 (exempting School Land Bank Act from review)
  • § 25985 (ordinances exempting jurisdiction from solar shade control provisions)
  •  § 44203(g) (agreements for solid waste management facilities in Indian Country)

Water Code

  • § 1729 (temporary changes to water appropriation plans)
  • § 1841(c) (adoption of regulations for measuring and reporting water diversion)
  • § 13389 (adoption of waste discharge requirements)
  • § 13552.4(c) (authority to require use of reclaimed water for residential landscaping)
  • § 13554(c) (authority to require use of reclaimed water for toilet and urinal flushing

Government Code

  • § 11011(k) (disposition of state surplus real property)
  • § 15455(a) (method for issuing and refunding bonds for health facilities)
  • § 51119 (zoning a parcel as timberland production)
  • § 51191(d) (Department of Conservation determinations relating to solar-use easements)
  • § 65361(g) (time extensions for the preparation and adoption of local general plans)
  • § 65457(a) (residential development projects that are consistent with a specific plan)
  • § 65584(f) (city’s determination of housing needs)
  • § 65759(a) (bringing general plans into compliance with court orders)
  • § 65863(h): (city’s compliance with obligations to identify and make available additional residential sites)
  • § 65996 (methods of considering and mitigating impacts on school facilities)
  • § 65997(b) (methods of mitigating effects relating to adequacy of school facilities)
  • § 66207(a) (design review of development within a housing sustainability district)
  • § 26055(h) (adoption of ordinances, rules, or regulations requiring discretionary review and authorizations for commercial cannabis activity)

Education Code

  • § 17196(a) (California School Finance Authority decisions)
  • § 17621(a) (authorization for fee, charge or dedication to fund school construction)
  • § 94212(a) (issuance and refunding of bonds under the California Educational Facilities Authority Act)
  • Fish and Game Code
  • § 1617(g) (general agreements for cannabis cultivation)
  • § 2301(c) (aquatic invasive species)
  • § 2810(c) (approval of agreements for the preparation of natural community)
  • § 7078(e) (implementing regulations for fishery plans)
  • § 15101(c) (annual registration of aquaculture facilities)

Health and Safety Code

  • § 25198.3(g) (cooperative agreements for hazardous waste management facilities in Indian Country)
  • § 33492.18(a) (military base conversion redevelopment plans exempt in some circumstances)

You may obtain a copy of the Technical Advisory or contact any of our Public Agency, Environmental, or Natural Resources Law attorneys if you have questions about these updates or CEQA-related issues.