On March 23, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-54-20, suspending for 60 days public agency and project proponent procedures for posting notices of key CEQA compliance actions. The Executive Order also relaxes statutory tribal consultation requirements.
The Executive Order is effective immediately and applies to:
- Posting of Notices of Preparation of Environmental Impact Reports;
- Posting of Notices of Availability of Draft Environmental Impact Reports with the relevant county clerk or the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, as applicable;
- Posting of Notices of Intent to Adopt Mitigated Negative Declaration or Negative Declaration;
- Filing of Notices of Exemption from CEQA by public agencies and project proponents;
- Posting of Notices of Determination following project approval;
- Filing and posting of Notices of Determinations with the county clerk or the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, as applicable; and
- The timeframes for tribal consultation under Public Resources Code sections 21080.3.1 and 21082.
The Executive Order does not absolve public agencies and project proponents from undertaking reasonable noticing efforts that are consistent with COVID-19 public health orders.
During the 60-day suspension, public agencies and project proponents are directed to:
- Post materials on the relevant agency’s or applicant’s public-facing website for the same period of time that physical posting would otherwise be required;
- Submit all materials electronically to the State Clearinghouse CEQAnet Web Portal; and
- Engage in outreach to any individuals and entities known by the lead agency, responsible agency, or project applicant to be parties interested in the project in the manner contemplated by the Public Resources Code sections 21100 et seq. and California Code of Regulations, Title 14, sections 15000 et seq.
The Executive Order also encourages public agencies and project proponents to pursue additional methods of public notice and outreach as appropriate for particular projects and communities.
The Executive Order does not impact statutory or regulatory provisions governing public review time-frames for CEQA documentation.
The Executive Order does not refer to or clarify the scope of the California Judicial Council’s recent emergency rule tolling statutes of limitation for all civil causes of action. Emergency rule 9 has been widely interpreted to indefinitely toll CEQA statutes of limitations.
The full text of the Executive Order is available here.
Liz Klebaner advises public agency and corporate clients on a variety of complex land use and environmental matters, including California Environmental Quality Act, National Environmental Policy, California Coastal Act ...
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