It can be challenging to navigate the legal changes and requirements involved in developing an Addendum to determine sufficiency of a previous Environmental Impact Report (EIR). FCS has helped navigate those changes firsthand through several projects, including the Bishop Ranch 6 Residential Development (City Village) in the City of San Ramon, an Addendum to the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan EIR.
What is an EIR?
An EIR is an informational document used by a lead agency when considering approval of a project. The purpose of an EIR is to provide public agencies and members of the public with detailed information regarding the environmental effects associated with implementing a project. An EIR analyzes the environmental impacts of a proposed project, identifies ways to mitigate a project’s potential environmental effects, and identifies alternatives to the proposed project that can avoid or reduce impacts. Pursuant to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), state and local government agencies must consider the environmental impacts of projects over which they have discretionary authority.
When to Prepare an Addendum to an EIR
In order to prepare an addendum to an EIR, it is important to understand the CEQA guidelines. CEQA establishes the type of environmental documentation required when changes to a project occur after an EIR is certified. If the proposed project is consistent with and within the scope of the previous Certified EIR involving only minor changes, an Addendum is appropriate and required under CEQA and preparation of a new subsequent or supplemental EIR is not required. The impacts of the proposed project would need to remain within the impacts previously analyzed in the previous EIR (CEQA Guidelines § 15164). Applicable mitigation measures from the previous Certified EIR would need to be identified and discussed in the addendum.
One notable benefit of preparing an addendum is that while it does not need to be circulated for public review, it can be included in or attached to the previous EIR (CEQA Guidelines § 15164, subd. (c)). The decision-making body shall consider the Addendum with the previous EIR prior to making a decision on the proposed project (CEQA Guidelines § 15164, subd. (d)). An agency must also include a brief explanation of the decision not to prepare a subsequent EIR pursuant to Section 15162 (CEQA Guidelines § 15164, subd. (e)).
Section 15162 of the CEQA Guidelines requires a Subsequent EIR when a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) has already been adopted, or an EIR has been certified and one or more of the following circumstances exist:
- Substantial changes are proposed in the project which will require major revisions of the previous EIR or negative declaration due to the involvement of new significant environmental effects or a substantial increase in the severity of previously identified significant effects.
- Substantial changes occur with respect to the circumstances under which the project is undertaken, which will require major revisions of the previous EIR or negative declaration due to the involvement of new significant environmental effects or a substantial increase in the severity of previously identified significant effects.
- New information of substantial importance, which was not known and could not have been known with the exercise of reasonable diligence at the time the previous EIR was certified as complete, or the negative declaration was adopted.
Preparing an Addendum for Bishop Ranch 6
FCS prepared the Bishop Ranch 6 (City Village) Project Addendum to the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan EIR and supporting technical documents to determine whether and to what extent the EIR sufficiently addresses the potential impacts of the proposed project. The City Village Project would develop a 404-unit for-sale residential community on approximately 31 acres. In addition to the preparation of the Addendum, FCS prepared the Air Quality and GHG Emissions Analysis and Noise Analysis. FCS also peer-reviewed the Biological Evaluation Tree Report and Archaeological Resources Study. Architecture would be modern and contemporary in character and would be consistent with the surrounding uses. The architecture and the site plan are intended to integrate the design guidelines of the Specific Plan, with a mixed density all residential project. The design would be compatible with the framework of the CityWalk Master Plan, adopted in 2020, creating a transition and a pedestrian connection between the proposed project and surrounding land uses.
FCS previously prepared an EIR for the North Camino Specific Plan that concluded that the buildout of the specific plan would include approximately 11,089,000 square feet (about the total floor space of the Pentagon) of development over 17 Sub Areas. The previous EIR evaluated the buildout of residential units within the specific plan area to be approximately 1,650,000 square feet (about half the area of a large shopping mall) with 1,500 residential dwelling units; however, the maximum number of residential units permitted in the Specific Plan Area would be 1,124 per General Plan Policy VIS 3.3.
There were no substantial changes proposed by the proposed project or under the circumstances in which the proposed project would be undertaken that would require major revisions of the previous EIR. The proposed project did not require preparation of a new subsequent or supplemental EIR due to either:
(1) the involvement of significant new environmental effects
(2) a substantial increase in the severity of previously identified significant effects , or
(3) new information of substantial importance.
No mitigation measures or alternatives previously found not to be feasible would in fact be feasible, nor has the City Village Project proponent declined to adopt any additional mitigation measures or alternatives that would reduce one or more significant effects on the environment. Applicable mitigation measures from the previous Certified EIR are identified and discussed in the Addendum.
The proposed project is consistent with and within the scope of the previous Certified EIR and would involve only minor changes. Therefore, an Addendum is appropriate and requires CEQA compliance for the proposed project. The impacts of the proposed project remain within the impacts previously analyzed in the previous EIR (CEQA Guidelines § 15164).
FirstCarbon Solutions (FCS), an ADEC Innovation, comprises over 100 individuals offering due diligence, technical analysis, planning, environmental compliance, permitting, and mitigation/monitoring services for public and private projects. FCS has more than 30 years of experience navigating the complexities of CEQA and securing project approvals. Our technical and legal teams are ready to provide assistance and guidance in moving your project forward. Contact us for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help with your specific project requirements.