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Chapter 3. Guidelines for Implementation of the California Environmental Quality Act Article 5. Preliminary Review of Projects and Conduct of Initial Study Preliminary Review.   

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(a) A lead agency is allowed 30 days to review for completeness applications for permits or other entitlements for use. While conducting this review for completeness, the agency should be alert for environmental issues that might require preparation of an EIR or that may require additional explanation by the applicant. Accepting an application as complete does not limit the authority of the lead agency to require the applicant to submit additional information needed for environmental evaluation of the project. Requiring such additional information after the application is complete does not change the status of the application.

(b) Except as provided in Section 15111, the lead agency shall begin the formal environmental evaluation of the project after accepting an application as complete and determining that the project is subject to CEQA.

(c) Once an application is deemed complete, a lead agency must first determine whether an activity is subject to CEQA before conducting an initial study. An activity is not subject to CEQA if:

(1) The activity does not involve the exercise of discretionary powers by a public agency;

(2) The activity will not result in a direct or reasonably foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment; or

(3) The activity is not a project as defined in Section 15378.

(d) If the lead agency can determine that an EIR will be clearly required for a project, the agency may skip further initial review of the project and begin work directly on the EIR process described in Article 9, commencing with Section 15080. In the absence of an initial study, the lead agency shall still focus the EIR on the significant effects of the project and indicate briefly its reasons for determining that other effects would not be significant or potentially significant.

Authority cited:

Public Resources Code 21083


Public Resources Code 21080(b)

Public Resources Code 21080.2

Public Resources Code 21160

(Amended by Register 2005, No. 40.)