The Planning Division has published the latest CEQA documents under consideration in Siskiyou County in their Resource Center with CEQA being the leading text string in the description.
The California Environmental Quality Act requires local and state governments to consider the potential environmental effects of a project before making a decision on it. CEQA's purpose is to disclose the potential impacts of a project, suggest methods to minimize those impacts, and discuss project alternatives so that decision-makers will have full information upon which to base their decision. A project, as defined by CEQA, is any action that has the potential for a direct or indirect impact on the environment. A project can be any of the following: 1) an activity of a public agency, 2) an activity of someone who receives assistance, such as grants or loans, from a public agency, 3) an activity that involves receiving a lease, permit, or other permission for use that is issued by a public agency.
The agency with the principal responsibility for issuing permits to a project, or for carrying out the project, is called the lead agency. As such, this agency is responsible for determining whether or not a project will significantly impact the environment and, when necessary, for analyzing the project's possible environmental impacts (or contracting for this work to be done under its direction). The planning department is usually the lead agency in local planning matters.
Analyzing a project's potential environmental impacts is a multi-step process. Many minor projects, such as single-family homes, remodeling, and accessory structures are exempt from the CEQA requirements. Exempt projects require no environmental review.
When a project is not exempt, and therefore, subject to review, the lead agency prepares an initial study to assess the potential adverse environmental impacts. If the project will not cause any significant impacts on the environment or if it has been redesigned to eliminate any significant impacts, a negative declaration is written. If significant environmental impacts are identified, then an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) must be written before the project can be considered by decision makers. Upon approval of a project for which a negative declaration is adopted or an EIR certified, the city or county must also adopt a monitoring program to ensure that the mitigation measures will be completed as required.
Both negative declarations and EIRs are objective, informational documents. They neither approve nor deny a project. Environmental analysis must be done as early as possible in the process of considering a project and must address the entire project. The CEQA Guidelines describes the different types of EIRs that may be prepared.