CDFW recently announced their annual increase for CEQA document filing fees in 2021.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently announced their annual increase for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) document filing fees in 2021. All Notices of Determination (NOD) filed for CEQA documents, including Negative Declarations (ND), Mitigated Negative Declarations (MND), and Environmental Impact Reports (EIR) are affected by the increase, effective as of January 1, 2021. In addition to the new CDFW filing fee, a $50 county clerk processing fee will still be required, and additional county fees may also apply.
CEQA Environmental Filing Fees
CDFW collects a filing fee to offset the costs of maintaining and protecting California’s vast fish and wildlife resources, including consulting with other public agencies, reviewing environmental documents, recommending mitigation measures, and developing monitoring programs.
CDFW is required to adjust the fees annually (Reference Fish & G. Code, § 713). According to CDFW, filing fees are due at the time an NOD is filed with the county clerk’s office by the local lead agency, or with the State Clearinghouse, Office of Planning and Research, if there is a state lead agency, or if the local project requires discretionary approval from a state agency (CEQA § 15094 (d)). Contingent on local county policy, a local clerk’s processing fee may be charged for the filing of any NOD or Notice of Exemption (NOE).
If a project will have no effect on fish and wildlife, the CDFW filing fee will be waived (Reference Fish & G. Code, § 711.4, subd. (c)(2)(A)). The no effect determination is very narrow. Any project that "causes a physical disturbance to habitat is not eligible for a no effect determination regardless of the magnitude of effect or size" of the project. (Reference Cal Code Regs, tit. 14 §753.5(a)(3), (c)). Determining whether a project qualifies for a no effect determination fee waiver is the responsibility of CDFW.
Likewise, projects that are statutorily exempt from CEQA are not subject to the CDFW filing fee (Reference (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 14, §§ 15260-15333; Fish & G. Code, § 711.4, subd. (d)(1)).
The filing fee should only be collected once per project, at the time the first NOD for the project is filed. When a project has later approvals (or files an addendum), no subsequent fess are required, unless the project is phased and requires separate environmental documents or review by CDFW. (Reference Fish & G C §711.4(g); 14 Cal Code Regs §753.5(e)(3)). Local lead agencies pay the appropriate fee to the county clerk of the county in which the project is located at the same time that the notice of determination is filed. (Reference Fish & G C §711.4(d)(2)–(3)).
State Lead Agencies will file the notice of determination and pay applicable fees to the Office of Planning and Research. (Reference Fish & G C §711.4(d)(2)–(3).) An applicant can demonstrate that the fee has already been paid by attaching a copy of the receipt to any additional notices of determination that may be required for a project. (Reference 14 Cal Code Regs §753.5(e)(4)).
Learn more about this year’s CDFW new filing fee here.
As budgets remain conservative, and 2021 planning continues, it is important to understand the associated fees for filing necessary documents on your projects. The following resources may provide more information:
- CDFW Website
- CDFW CEQA Environmental Document Filing Fees
- CEQA Document Filing Fee Instructions for County Clerks
- Certified Regulatory Program
- California Code of Regulations- S 753.5
- Fish and Game Code Section- S 711.4 and S 713
FirstCarbon Solutions (FCS) 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.
Contact us for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help with your specific requirements.