What is CEQA Streamlining?

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is a state-wide regulation that promotes informed decisions regarding projects and programs that may affect the environment and allows for steps to reduce potential impacts to the greatest extent possible. Both public and private projects must undergo a CEQA environmental analysis before a state or local agency can approve the project.

While important to environmental protection, CEQA review and analysis can be a lengthy process – up to three years or longer, in some cases – and may be subject to litigation, which can lead to additional delays. These hurdles can be especially problematic when dealing with time-critical projects, such as affordable housing projects to aid in the state’s housing shortage.

To counteract these challenges, governmental leaders have determined a variety of environmental review streamlining opportunities for certain projects to bypass some of these CEQA analysis requirements while maintaining an environmental interest. These streamlining options reduce the time and effort required to conduct the environmental analysis that comprises CEQA compliance.

What are the Benefits to CEQA Streamlining?

CEQA streamlining is often based on using a preexisting environmental impact report (EIR) for subsequent projects that are consistent with the city or county General Plan to avoid duplicating efforts and cost. Other streamlining opportunities are available for infill project sites; mixed-use, residential, or employment center specific plans; community plans; and transit projects, among others.

 There are many benefits to CEQA streamlining, including accelerated approval for critical infrastructure – such as access to clean water or reduced traffic congestion – and cost savings through fewer studies, analysis, and reports. A streamlined CEQA process provides consistency and transparency for all angles of a project during the development process.

In short, a streamlined process that focuses on previously approved plans ensures that future projects will adhere to the same policies, requirements, and mitigation efforts already identified for related past projects. Working with a environmental services consultant team allows you to explore any CEQA streamlining opportunities that may be available for your project.

Read more about CEQA streamlining for residential projects here.

How we can help

In an ever-changing regulatory and sustainability environment, FCS understands the challenges you face. Our highly qualified environmental specialists, energy management consultants, and technical experts deliver integrated, industry-specific solutions that move your project forward—so that you can focus on what matters.