CEQA offers two similar streamlining provisions for projects consistent with a plan for which an EIR has previously been certified. The first method (Public Resources Code Section 21083.3 [Aesthetic Impacts) and CEQA Guidelines Section 15183 [Community Plan/Zoning]) applies to projects consistent with a general plan, community plan, or zoning action. The second (Public Resources Code Section 21094 and CEQA Guidelines Section 15183.3 [Streamlining for Infill Projects]) applies to qualifying infill projects that are consistent with the regional Sustainable Communities Strategy. Both methods limit the analysis of later projects consistent with the plan or zoning action to impacts that are “peculiar to the parcel or to the project;” that is, impacts associated with the later project or its site that were not disclosed in the prior EIR. Both methods require the lead agency for the later project to determine whether “uniformly applied development policies or standards” (UADPSs) reduce the peculiar impact below a level of significance. Project impacts do not require further analysis if UADPSs adopted by a city or county, or by a lead agency would apply to the project and would substantially mitigate the impact. This avoids the need to prepare a new Mitigated Negative Declaration or EIR.
Community Plan or Zoning Action
CEQA Guidelines Section 15183 provides that the application of CEQA to the approval of any subdivision map or other project that is consistent with the general plan, zoning, or community plan is limited to effects upon the environment that are peculiar to the parcel or to the project and that were not addressed as significant effects in the prior EIR, or that substantial new information shows will be more significant than described in the prior EIR. UADPSs may reduce an impact to a less- than- significant level.
Qualified Infill Project
CEQA Guidelines Section 15183.3 streamlines the CEQA analysis of qualifying infill projects where (1) a prior EIR has been certified for a planning‐level action, (2) the project complies with the applicable statewide performance standards set out in CEQA Guidelines Appendix M, and (3) its impacts are substantially reduced by UADPSs.
What are UADPSs?
The definitions of UADPSs in Sections 15183 and 15183.3 are slightly different.
Guidelines Section 15183
Section 15183 refers to UADPSs “previously adopted by the city or county with a finding that the development policies or standards will substantially mitigate that environmental effect when applied to future projects.” If the city or county failed to make this finding when adopting the UADPS, the decision-making body of the city or county, prior to approving such a future project “is required to hold a public hearing for the purpose of considering whether, as applied to the project, such standards or policies would substantially mitigate the effects of the project.”
Under Section 15183, UADPSs specifically include, but are not limited to:
- Parking ordinances
- Public access requirements
- Grading ordinances
- Hillside development ordinances
- Floodplain ordinances
- Habitat protection or conservation ordinances
- View protection ordinances
- Requirements for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as set forth in adopted land use plans, policies, or regulations
Guidelines Section 15183.3
Section 15183.3 refers to UADPSs “adopted or enacted by a city or county or by a lead agency.” Unlike Section 15183, the city or county is not required to adopt a finding on the UADPS’s applicability upon adoption or enactment, nor does it require the lead agency a public hearing to adopt such a finding at a later date.
Examples of UADPSs under Section 15183.3 include, but are not limited to:
- Regulations governing construction activities, including noise regulations, dust control, provisions for discovery of archeological and paleontological resources, stormwater runoff treatment and containment, protection against the release of hazardous materials, recycling of construction and demolition waste, temporary street closure and traffic rerouting, and similar regulations.
- Requirements in locally adopted building, grading and stormwater codes.
- Design guidelines.
- Requirements for protecting residents from sources of air pollution including high volume roadways and stationary sources.
- Impact fee programs to provide public improvements, police, fire, parks and other open space, libraries and other public services and infrastructure, including transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and traffic calming devices.
- Traffic impact fees.
- Requirements for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as set forth in adopted land use plans, policies, or regulations.
- Ordinances addressing protection of urban trees and historic resources.