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California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Postings
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CEQA Deadlines, Noticing, and Filing Requirements during Covid-19 Shelter in Place - 04/30/2020
The State recognizes that due to the pandemic, some county clerk offices are currently closed to the public and thus are unable to accept filings and post notices as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Pursuant to Executive Order N-54-20, signed April 22, 2020, deadlines for filing, noticing, and posting of CEQA documents with county clerk offices have been suspended for 60 days.
According to the Executive Order, between April 23 and June 21 2020, the following public notices are not required to be filed, posted, and made publicly available at the relevant county clerk’s office, unless those offices remain open and are continuing to file, post, and make available such documents:
- Posting of notices of preparation of an environmental impact report (EIR) or negative declaration required by Public Resources Code section 21080.4 and 21092 (Pub. Resources Code, § 21092.3)
- Filing and posting of notices of determination (Pub. Resources Code, § 21152)
- Filing, posting, and making copies available for public inspection notices of exemption, if those notices are filed at all (CEQA Guidelines, § 15062(c)(2), (c)(4))
- Posting notices of intent to adopt negative declarations or mitigated negative declarations (CEQA Guidelines, § 15072(d))
- Filing, posting, and making available for public inspection notices of determination for negative declarations or mitigated negative declarations (CEQA Guidelines, § 15075(a), (d), (e))
- Posting of notices of availability of draft EIRs (CEQA Guidelines, § 15087(d))
- Posting of notices of determination (CEQA Guidelines, § 15094(a), (d), (e))
In the event that public agencies or project applicants are operating under any of the above suspensions, Executive Order N-54-20 requires lead and responsible agencies and project applicants to take all of the following steps in lieu of the public notice, filing, and posting requirements that have been suspended:
- Post the notices listed above on the lead or responsible agency’s website for the same length of time that would be required for physical posting,
- Submit all notices listed above to the State Clearinghouse’s CEQAnet web portal, and
- With exception to the provisions that have been suspended, lead and responsible agencies and project applicants must perform public noticing and outreach to all interested parties as allowed and required by CEQA and the CEQA Guidelines; for example, as required by CEQA Guidelines section 15087(a), agencies and applicants must continue to give notice to all entities who have requested notice.
Additionally, the Executive Order also encourages lead and responsible agencies and project applicants to use any other available and appropriate methods to provide public notice. This may include notification by e-mail and telephone of proposed projects to community organizations, among other methods.
The above-mentioned provisions in the Executive Order remain in effect through June 21, unless they are further modified. The 60-day suspension for all filing, noticing, and posting provisions listed in Executive Order N-54-20 means that any elapsed time under the deadline is still counted toward that deadline.
Deadlines for public review and comment periods for CEQA documents, such as for draft EIRs and negative declarations, have not been suspended and those deadlines remain unchanged.
Any filing fees required by Fish & Game Code section 711.4 and submitted with notices of determination at the county clerk’s office must still be paid to that office. OPR recommends that when submitting notices to the CEQAnet web portal, public agencies or project applicants also submit a signed letter stating they have submitted proper payment of the required Fish & Game Code fees or a copy of a receipt from a county clerk’s office.
Please note that the State Clearinghouse is still operating every weekday from 9 am to 4 pm. Clearinghouse staff can be reached via phone at 916-445-0613 or via email at email@example.com if you have any questions.
Update - 12/10/2020
Pursuant to Executive Order N-80-20, signed on September 23, 2020, certain requirements for filing, noticing, and posting of CEQA documents with county clerk offices have been conditionally suspended and alternate requirements must be taken in lieu of those requirements. Lead and responsible agencies and project applicants are encouraged to use any other available and appropriate methods to provide public notice.
The Executive Order remains in effect until it is modified or rescinded, or until the State of Emergency is terminated, whichever occurs sooner. The Executive Order does not suspend CEQA’s requirements in their entirety for public filing, notice, posting, and public access; rather, the Order provides an alternate means of complying with those requirements in light of the current pandemic.
Please see State CEQA Document Submission Guidance for more information. State Clearinghouse staff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any statutory or regulatory compliance issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak.