Countywide Siting Element Adequacy

The following is a discussion of the statutory, regulatory and content adequacy requirements of a Countywide Siting Element (CSE). This section contains what staff will focus on during the review of a CSE to determine and define adequacy.

In each of the following CSE component discussions, the focus is on specific topics to consider when determining whether a CSE is considered adequate. The specific topics in each component are significant and have been selected because those topics can provide the majority of the information necessary for staff to determine whether a plan or element can be deemed adequate.

Countywide Siting Element

Statutes: PRC sections 41700-41721.5
Counties are required to prepare a CSE that describes areas that may be used for developing new disposal facilities. The element also provides an estimate of the total permitted disposal capacity needed for a 15-year period if counties determine that their existing disposal capacity will be exhausted within 15 years or if additional capacity is desired.

Regulations: 14 CCR sections 18755-8756.7
These sections clarify and provide guidance to counties that will be preparing their CSE. The CSE is addressed in Article 6.5 that specifies requirements for goals, policies, criteria, location, general plan consistency, strategies for disposal when disposal sites are not available, and an implementation schedule.

Countywide Siting Element Content Adequacy

Facility Description
An adequate CSE contains a description and identification of areas, numbers, and types of new or expanded solid waste disposal and transformation facilities to meet a minimum of 15 years of combined permitted disposal capacity. If new or expanded facilities cannot be established, then a discussion of strategies selected by the local jurisdiction to dispose of the excess solid waste shall be included.

Siting Criteria
The element includes a discussion and description of the siting criteria used in the County’s siting process for new or expanded solid waste disposal or transformation facilities. The siting criteria shall address the requirements of 14 CCR section 18756(a) (1-5) that are: environmental considerations, environmental impacts, socio-economic and legal considerations, and any other additional criteria included by jurisdictions that approve the element.

Strategies to Achieve 15-Year Disposal Capacity
The element includes a discussion of how excess solid waste will be handled if new or expanded disposal sites are not available. The discussion also includes the types and quantities of excess waste to be handled, diversion or export programs that would be implemented to handle the excess solid waste and identification of solid waste disposal or transformation facilities that will be used to implement the strategies. A copy of the export and/or import agreement/contract with a participating jurisdiction is included in the element as well.

Environmental Justice
California Government Code Section 65040.12 defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”

Senate Bill 1542 (Escutia; statutes of 2002) amended PRC Section 41701 to require a County that amends its CSE on or after January 1, 2003, to include a description of the actions taken by the county to solicit public participation from the communities that could be affected by the change(s), including, but not limited to, minority and low-income populations. While SB 1542 did not prescribe the specific actions that must be taken in order to satisfy the requirement, it did require CalRecycle to provide guidance on the types of actions that could be taken.

Links to Other Resources Related to Environmental Justice:


SB 1000 (Leyva, Chapter 587, 2016): This bill requires cities and counties to adopt an environmental justice element or to integrate environmental justice goals, policies, and objectives into other elements of their general plans.

Environmental Justice Best Practices

  • Utilize mapping tools such as CalEPA’s CalEnviroScreen and U.S. EPA’s EJ Screen to identify communities’ demographics and pollution burdens. US Quick Facts from the Census Bureau provides snapshot demographic information, which is easily accessible.
  • Provide Translation and Interpretation to help understand communities’ language needs and provide written translation and verbal interpretation when needed. This will ensure individuals and communities affected by new or expanding facilities have access to information that will impact their neighborhoods.
  • Speak to community members and leaders to gain insight about communities’ strengths and concerns. The best way to learn about communities is by speaking to local residents and leaders. In order to facilitate access to community members, seek collaboration with established community organizations such as nonprofits or churches. Additionally, schools are often a great resource as they are centrally located and can serve as a hub.
  • Advance opportunities for community members to participate in the decision-making processes, prior to the actual point when decisions are being made, so they have a say in decisions that affect their well-being. This includes working with local enforcement agencies, planning departments, cities, and counties for information sharing about local-level decisions.
  •  Initiate mitigation efforts during the planning efforts for human health and safety. Mitigation efforts will also improve relationships with community members.

The following section was posted by CalRecycle pursuant to AB 1126 (Chapter 411, Statutes of 2013)

Revising the Countywide Siting Element to Identify an Engineered Municipal Solid Waste Conversion Facility

Pursuant to PRC Sections 41721 and 50001 AB 1126 (Chapter 411, Statutes of 2013, Gordon) a jurisdiction should revise the Countywide Siting Element (SE) when siting a new Engineered Municipal Solid Waste Conversion. The jurisdiction in which the facility is located should revise the Countywide Siting Element prior to CalRecycle concurring on the Solid Waste Facility Permit for the facility. One-step in the permitting process is a conformance finding, made first by the Local Enforcement Agency (LEA) for the county, and corroborated by staff in CalRecycle’s Jurisdiction Product and Compliance unit (JPCU) staff. A conformance finding is a verification that the location of a permitted disposal facility is identified in the appropriate County’s SE.

When JPCU staff is requested by CalRecycle’s Permits Division to make a conformance finding related to an Engineered Municipal Solid Waste (EMSW) Conversion Facility, staff will look at the applicable SE to see if that facility is already identified in the SE document. If it is, staff will make the finding that the facility is in conformance, and no revision to the SE will be necessary. However, if the EMSW Conversion Facility is not identified in the SE, staff will make a finding that the proposed SWFP for that facility is not in conformance with the applicable planning document, and the SE will need to be revised. See steps below for revising the SE to identify an Engineered Municipal Solid Waste Conversion Facility.

For more information regarding when a conformance finding is necessary and example scenarios see the LEA memo on conformance. Resources and guidance for solid waste facility permit (SWFP) applicants and local enforcement agencies are available at CalRecycle’s permit toolbox.

Steps for Revising an SE to Identify an Engineered Municipal Solid Waste Conversion Facility

Step 1: Prepare facility information that includes the following information:

  • Facility Name
  • Type of Facility
  • Location
  • Facility Capacity
  • Material types that will be received at the facility for conversion

Step 2: PRC section 50001(c) requires the agency, either the City or County in which the Engineered Municipal Solid Waste Conversion Facility is proposed to be located, to submit a site identification and description of the proposed facility to the local task force, and within 90 days the Task Force is required to meet and comment on the proposed facility in writing.

Step 3: Pursuant to PRC Section 41721(b) the SE revision for an Engineered Municipal Solid Waste Conversion Facility is done by the governing body, e.g., City Council or County Board of Supervisors, for the jurisdiction in which the facility is located. Additionally, identifying an Engineered Municipal Solid Waste Conversion Facility in the SE is exempt from the majority/majority requirement.

  • The governing body would notice the public of the decision to amend the CSE to include the EMSW facility as a part of its typical noticing process, e.g., public noticing of City Council or Board of Supervisor’s meeting agenda. The information provided to the public would include the description of the facility identified above in Step 1.
  • Environmental Justice
    When revising the Siting Element to include an EMSW conversion facility, the jurisdiction in which the facility is located is also responsible pursuant to PRC Section 41701 to provide a description of the actions taken by the jurisdiction to solicit participation from the public that could be affected by the change(s), including, but not limited to, minority and low-income populations.

Step 4: The governing body would then send a copy of the approved resolution, public noticing information, CEQA, facility description of the Engineered Municipal Solid Waste Conversion Facility and description of actions taken to address Environmental Justice pursuant to PRC Section 41701 to CalRecycle. This SE information may be submitted either electronically or hard copy.

Step 5: The jurisdiction shall also provide a copy of the revised SE information to the County, if the facility is located in a City, and also to the local task force.

Step 6: CalRecycle upon receipt of the SE revision shall append the revised information to the existing SE currently on file. The County should do likewise to make sure its records are update to date.

Should you need further assistance or information on amending a CSE, please contact your local assistance staff representative or  (916) 341-6199.

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