The State Legislature enacted the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in 1970, establishing statewide regulations for the environmental review of discretionary projects and a process for mitigating or avoiding potential environmental impacts. Documents and reports that result from the CEQA review process seek to inform the public, applicable local agencies, and decision makers about the potential environmental impacts associated with certain planning approvals.
When does CEQA apply?
CEQA requires environmental review for discretionary land use applications.
Note: Stand-alone ministerial and by-right projects are statutorily exempt under CEQA. These projects do not need planning approvals because they comply with zoning and building code requirements and do not require discretionary action.
Types of CEQA Review
Discretionary projects must undergo CEQA review before they may receive planning approvals. During the early stages of project review, the Department determines the appropriate type of environmental document to prepare.