In accordance with the CEQA (California Public Resources Code §§ 21000, et seq.) and CEQA Guidelines (14 California Code of Regulations §§ 15000, et seq.), public agencies are required to adopt procedures to implement the provisions of CEQA. Consistent with CEQA Guidelines Section 15022(a), local procedures are necessary to ensure the orderly evaluation and preparation of environmental documents. Such procedures shall be revised when needed to be kept current with changes to the state CEQA Guidelines.
The City adopted local procedures beginning in November 1991, with updates in October 1996, and again in January 2002. Each of these local procedures outlined the steps for processing the state CEQA Guidelines for both private and public projects. The procedures outlined followed the state guidelines with no notable deviations. Since the January 2002 update, the City has followed the state CEQA Guidelines consistent with CEQA Guidelines Section 15022(a), which specify that the state CEQA Guidelines take precedence even if the local procedures are not updated.
CEQA Guidelines Section 15022(d) allows a public agency to adopt the state CEQA Guidelines through incorporation by reference. Staff is recommending that the City formally adopt the state Guidelines through incorporation by reference. Using only the state Guidelines will avoid confusion, streamline the environmental process, and promote compliance with the current and future updates to the environmental review requirements of state CEQA Statutes and Guidelines.
City CEQA Compliance Administrative Policy
In 1994, the City of Chino Hills adopted an Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual to reflect the City's organizational structure that existed at that time. Policies within the manual generally describe the roles of various City officials and departments in implementing various City functions and responsibilities. These policies are updated periodically.
The CEQA Compliance Administrative Policy has been updated to be consistent with the proposed update to the local procedures for implementing CEQA. The Administrative Policy identifies the responsibilities of City Departments to ensure CEQA compliance for both private and City initiated projects. These responsibilities include those of the Community Development Department as well as the Public Works Department for City capital improvement projects. The City Public Works Director has reviewed and concurs with the updated Administrative Policy.
Planning Commission Review
On November 19, 2019, the Planning Commission reviewed the updated Local Procedures for Implementing CEQA and the associated Administrative Policy. The Commission recommended approval of these items, with inclusion of additional wording to the Administrative Policy defining the reference to Project Manager and clarifying that the Planning Commission will review and forward to the City Council future updates to the Administrative Policy. This additional wording is contained in the CEQA Administrative Policy, attached.