CEQA - California Environmental Quality Act

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What is CEQA?

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is a California law that requires public agencies and local governments to evaluate and disclose the environmental impacts of development projects or other major land use decisions, and to limit or avoid those impacts to the extent feasible. The California Natural Resources Agency, with assistance from the Office of Planning and Research (OPR), recently completed a comprehensive update to the CEQA Guidelines in late 2018.

The laws and rules governing the CEQA process are contained in the CEQA statute (Public Resources Code Section 21000 and following), the CEQA Guidelines (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 15000 and following), published court decisions interpreting CEQA, and locally adopted CEQA procedures


Council Policy K-3 is the City’s implementing document for the basic principles, objectives, and criteria contained in the CEQA Guidelines adopted by the Natural Resources Agency pursuant to the provisions of CEQA.

Transportation Analysis and SB743

Senate Bill (SB) 743, signed in 2013, changes the way transportation studies are conducted in California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) documents. Instead of focusing on motorist delay and congestion (level of service), transportation impacts will be analyzed in CEQA documents based on the number of daily trips and the distance those trips travel to their destinations (vehicle miles traveled).  July 1, 2020 is the statewide implementation date for VMT analysis.

Level of Service (LOS) will continue to be evaluated for projects that generate more than 300 average daily trips (ADT) pursuant to the City’s General Plan and Traffic Phasing Ordinance (Section 15.40 of the Newport Beach Municipal Code). However, in compliance with SB743, LOS will no longer be evaluated in the context of CEQA as a potentially significant impact.

Staff is recommending an Amendment to City Council Policy K-3 which will outline a framework to complete a CEQA-level transportation analysis for land development and transportation projects.



Most development projects fall into one of the following categories of CEQA review:

  1. Statutorily exempt
  2. Categorically Exempt
  3. Initial Study and Negative Declaration/Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS/ND and IS/MND)
  4. Environmental Impact Report (EIR)

Click image to enlarge:

CEQA Flow Chart


Citation: Greene, Steve, et. al., “CEQA Flowchart.” CA Association of Environmental Professionals, 2020, https://www.califaep.org/ceqa_flowchart.php

Current Projects Posted

NOD_Residences at Newport Center_PA2020-020_Filed-Posted on 9-29-2021

NOE_Corona del Mar 76 Service Station Remodel_PA2019-027_Filed-Posted 11-18-2021

CEQA  Documents

Current Project Case Log

Cumulative Projects List-This is a list of approved and reasonably forseeable projects for consideration as part of the mandatory findings of significance under CEQA.

Applicant Information

Please consult with a Planner regarding submittal requirements.