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Showing 11 posts by David H. McCray.

Changes To CEQA Guidelines Coming To a Project Near You

On January 26, 2018, the California Natural Resources Agency (Resources Agency) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for changes to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines. After holding public comment sessions, the Resources Agency revised its proposed changes and issued further proposed amendments on July 2, 2018. The public comment period for these amended revisions ended on July 20. The Resources Agency also amended its statement of reasons for the proposed changes to better explain its reasoning. The Resources Agency’s materials can be viewed hereRead More ›

San Mateo Gardens Teaches College District a Lesson on Picking Thorny Subsequent Review Procedure

The California Supreme Court recently addressed an important California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) issue: Who decides whether CEQA’s subsequent review provisions are applicable when there are changes to an adopted project? Subsequent review provisions include a subsequent Environmental Impact Report (EIR) or Negative Declaration (ND), a supplemental EIR, or an addendum to an EIR or ND.  When a project that has been reviewed and finalized under CEQA is altered, what type of review process under CEQA is required, if any?  As we said in our last update on Friends of the College of San Mateo Gardens v. San Mateo County Community College District et al., (2016) 1 Cal.5th 937 (Friends of the College), the Court determined that the lead agency makes this determination.  The question that the lead agency should be analyzing is whether the original document “retains some informational value” – if it does, then CEQA’s subsequent review procedures apply.  Should the lead agency’s decision be challenged, then the Court must decide whether “substantial evidence” supports the lead agency’s conclusion. Read More ›

Time to Shift Gears and Change the World

Imagine a world where highway traffic fatalities drop considerably, emergency vehicles get to their destination faster, vehicle emissions are low or non-existent, “road rage” is a thing of the past, and the word “idiot” is used far less. This light hearted introduction actually captures some of the many highlights of the incredible changes autonomous vehicles will bring to transportation. Read More ›

Is the Golden State about to Fumble Away a Golden Program?

Streamlining environmental reviews of highway projects and fixing state highway issues faster with reduced costs, have all proven successful under the NEPA Assignment Program (Program) that California entered in 2007. In fact, California has led the way with this Program by being the only state that participated in the pilot program.  The Program, 23 USC 327,  allows a state to apply for and assume the responsibilities of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for environmental review, consultation, or other action required under any Federal environmental law pertaining to the review or approval highway projects in the State. States can also apply for the assignment of transit and rail projects. Read More ›

“New and Improved” is Not Always a Good Slogan Under CEQA

Marketing departments in major corporations love to describe products as “new and improved” in order to convince you that the product is something you need. In many cases though, you already have the product; the new and improved version is actually the same with just a few minor changes. Read More ›

DOT Releases Policy for Driverless Vehicle Testing and Deployment on U.S. Roads

Summary:  On September 19, 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a forward thinking guidance document titled, “Federal Automated Vehicles Policy” (Policy), to aid all stakeholders involved in shaping the future of transportation.  The Policy and associated fact sheets can be found on DOT’s automated vehicle website.  This guidance document has been heavily anticipated due to the rapid advancements in autonomous vehicle technology and the magnitude of the safety and environmental benefits the application of that technology is expected to achieve.  In short, autonomous vehicles will absolutely and totally change transportation forever. Read More ›

CEQA Guidelines Comments: Once In a Generation Chance

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) directs that certain proposed projects undergo environmental review to assess and mitigate significant environmental impacts. The CEQA Guidelines provide procedures and clarification on how to perform the reviews. The Guidelines are often cited in legal challenges to CEQA reviews. Read More ›

California is Flooding with Water…Issues, Lawsuits, Rules and Legislation

We Californians are well aware of the impact of the four-year drought. We have read about town wells drying up like in East Porterville; we have seen the incredibly scary low water marks in lakes and reservoirs; we have heard about negative impacts to the agricultural industry and devastation to the farm workers ability to find work; and we have heard about impacts to fish and the important Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta. While Californians work to reduce water usage, there are too many folks that have no running water in their homes. In the Central Valley for example, families with dry wells face potential health hazards due to no running water. Read More ›

As Predicted, California Supreme Court Agrees with CEQA Mitigation Requirement

Last February, I wrote about the California State University Board of Trustees’ (CSU) unique stance concerning their responsibilities under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  CSU agrees that like every other private developer, it has a duty to mitigate for significant impacts on the environment from its development projects.  However, they do not budget for the cost of mitigation for off-campus impacts as part of the project.  Rather, CSU argues that off-campus mitigation is a separate cost and their only responsibility is to request funds from the Californian legislature and if not appropriated, then CSU can move forward with the project without mitigating. Read More ›

Big House CEQA Exemption on Firm Foundation

The Berkeley Hillside Preservation association wasn’t thrilled with a new neighbor’s plans to demolish an existing house and build a 6,478-square-foot house with an attached 3,394-square-foot 10-car garage on a slope in the Berkeley, California hills.   The association challenged the plans asserting that the City of Berkeley violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when it approved the building permit and determined that the project was categorically exempt from further environmental analysis. Read More ›