Real estate development can be a risky proposition, especially if a proposed project is “unentitled” for the proposed end-use. The entitlement and permitting processes (i.e., securing the approvals to develop a property for the desired end-use), especially in California, are widely considered the main risk to a project’s success or failure. The State’s reputation for its laborious development regulations includes the California Environmental Quality Act, also known as CEQA. CEQA was passed in 1970 to identify and mitigate environmental impacts caused by a proposed development project. Vague language in the act often results in local agencies delaying project approvals and sometimes results in CEQA lawsuits filed by project opponents to delay a project.
It is essential to start early in the CEQA planning process by understanding the project constraints and make adjustments to the design to accommodate resource avoidance to the greatest extent possible.
In some instances, a proposed project may not be subject to CEQA by qualifying for an exemption. There are several types of CEQA Exemptions, essentially consisting of either statutory or categorical exemptions.
For example, an activity is not subject to CEQA if: the activity does not involve discretionary approvals, will not result in a physical change in the environment, or is not a project as defined by State CEQA Guidelines §15378.
In the context of CEQA Guidelines, “discretionary” is defined as requiring an exercise of judgment or deliberation by the public agency or body deciding to approve a project. As noted, there are other potential exemptions that a project may qualify for, and this requires an understanding of those possibilities.
Murow Development Consultants has extensive experience working through the CEQA and Regulatory Agencies processes to secure the necessary approvals and permits to allow projects to move forward into development.
Blog Written By: Bob Garrison, Director of Consulting Services
Comments or questions? Please feel free to contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org