BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 291


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          Date of Hearing:  April 22, 2015


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                                 Jimmy Gomez, Chair


          AB  
          291 (Medina) - As Amended April 15, 2015


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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  NoReimbursable:   


          SUMMARY:


          This bill establishes an alternative procedure for the filing of  
          California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) notices for  
          multi-county water transfer projects.  Specifically, within five  
          working days of approval or determination, this bill allows the  








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          local agency meet the requirement by:  


          1)Filing the notice with the clerk of the county in which the  
            agency office is located.


          2)Filing notice with the Office of Planning and Research (OPR).   



          3)Mailing notices to the clerks of all the affected counties,  
            with specified posting requirements.


          This bill specifies the filing date and the statute of  
          limitations begins on the date the notice is filed with OPR.


          FISCAL EFFECT:


          Absorbable costs for OPR to post local agency notices on its  
          internet website (CEQAnet).


          COMMENTS:


          1)Purpose.  According to the author, CEQA notices for water  
            projects may have to be filed in five or more counties, or  
            wherever the project may have some impact - essentially, those  
            counties through which the project's water flows.  If the  
            water project involves the State Water Project (SWP) or the  
            Central Valley Project (CVP), notices may have to be filed in  
            dozens of counties. In some instances, technical errors in a  
            county clerk's posting process have resulted in additional  
            CEQA litigation, even when the errors were not caused by the  
            local agency that adopted the initial CEQA notice.








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            The purpose of this bill is to avoid having the statute of  
            limitations for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), or other  
            notice of approval or determination under CEQA, contingent on  
            the timely filing in each and every county.





          2)Background.  CEQA provides a process for evaluating the  
            environmental effects of applicable projects undertaken or  
            approved by public agencies.  If a project is not exempt from  
            CEQA, an initial study is prepared to determine whether the  
            project may have a significant effect on the environment.  If  
            the initial study shows that there would not be a significant  
            effect on the environment, the lead agency must prepare a  
            negative declaration.  If the initial study shows that the  
            project may have a significant effect on the environment, the  
            lead agency must prepare an EIR.  Once a lead agency has  
            approved a project, the agency must file a notice of  
            determination.  
            
            State agencies are required to file notice with OPR, which is  
            then posted on OPR's CEQAnet website.  Local agencies are  
            required to file notice within five working days with the  
            county clerk of each county in which the project will be  
            located.  These notices may be posted on the county's website,  
            but this is not required.  Depending on the county's  
            practices, the notice may simply be posted on a bulletin board  
            in the clerk's office.  CEQA also requires notices to be sent,  
            upon request, to any interested person.

            Generally, CEQA actions taken by local public agencies can be  
            challenged in Superior Court once the agency approves or  
            determines to carry out the project.  CEQA appeals are subject  
            to unusually short statutes of limitations, which are tied to  








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            the date the notice was filed.  Under current law, court  
            challenges of CEQA decisions generally must be filed within  
            30-35 days, depending on the type of decision.  Failure to  
            file a notice in time may increase the statute of limitations  
            to 180 days.


          3)Technical Amendents.  The author is proposing technical  
            amendments to reflect the amendments agreed upon in the  
            Assembly Natural Resources Committee.





          Analysis Prepared by:Jennifer Galehouse / APPR. / (916)  
          319-2081