Draft EIR Process

The lead agency may require the project applicant to supply data and information both to determine whether the project may have a significant effect on the environment, and to assist the lead agency in preparing the draft EIR. The requested information should include an identification of other public agencies that will have jurisdiction by law over the project.

Any person, including the applicant, may submit information or comments to the lead agency to assist in the preparation of the draft EIR. The submittal may be presented in any format, including the form of a draft EIR. The lead agency must consider all information and comments received. The information or comments may be included in the draft EIR in whole or in part. The lead agency may choose one of the following arrangements or a combination of them for preparing a draft EIR.

  • Preparing the draft EIR directly with its own staff.
  • Contracting with another entity, public or private, to prepare the draft EIR.
  • Accepting a draft prepared by the applicant, a consultant retained by the applicant, or any other person.
  • Executing a third party contract or memorandum of understanding with the applicant to govern the preparation of a draft EIR by an independent contractor.
  • Using a previously prepared EIR.

Before using a draft prepared by another person, the lead agency shall subject the draft to the agency’s own review and analysis. The draft EIR that is sent out for public review must reflect the independent judgment of the lead agency. The lead agency is responsible for the adequacy and objectivity of the draft EIR.

Notice of Completion

As soon as the draft EIR is completed, a notice of completion must be filed with the State Clearinghouse in a printed hard copy or in electronic form on a diskette CD/DVD or by e-maill.

The notice of completion shall include a brief description of the project, the proposed location of the project, address where copies of the draft EIR are available, and the period during which comments will be received on the draft EIR.

Note: Public agencies are encouraged to make copies of notices of completion filed pursuant to this section available on the Internet.

Reference: State Clearinghouse Environmental Review

Consultation Concerning Draft EIR

The lead agency shall consult with and request comments on the Draft EIR from:

  • Responsible agencies.
  • Trustee agencies with resources affected by the project.
  • Any other state, federal, and local agencies which have jurisdiction by law with respect to the project or which exercise authority over resources which may be affected by the project, including water agencies consulted pursuant to 14 CCR Section 15155.
  • Any city or county, which borders on a city or county within which the project is located.
  • For a project of statewide, regional, or area wide significance, the transportation planning agencies and public agencies which have transportation facilities within their jurisdictions which could be affected by the project. “Transportation facilities” includes: major local arterials and public transit within five miles of the project site, and freeways, highways and rail transit service within 10 miles of the project site.

The Lead Agency may consult directly with:

  • Any person who has special expertise with respect to any environmental impact involved,
  • Any member of the public who has filed a written request for notice with the lead agency or the clerk of the governing body.
  • Any person identified by the applicant whom the applicant believes will be concerned with the environmental effects of the project.

Public Review of Draft EIR

The lead agency shall provide public notice of the availability of a draft EIR at the same time it sends a notice of completion to the State Clearinghouse. This notice shall be given as provided under Section 15105. Notice shall be mailed to the last known name and address of all organizations and individuals who have previously requested such notice in writing, and shall be given by at least one of the following procedures:

  • Publication at least one time by the public agency in a newspaper of general circulation in the area affected by the proposed project. If more than one area is affected, the notice shall be published in the newspaper of largest circulation from among the newspapers of general circulation in those areas.
  • Posting of notice by the public agency on and off the site in the area where the project is to be located.
  • Direct mailing to the owners and occupants of property contiguous to the parcel or parcels on which the project is located. Owners of such property shall be identified as shown on the latest equalized assessment roll.

The notice shall disclose the following:

  • A brief description of the proposed project and its location.
  • The starting and ending dates for the review period during which the lead agency will receive comments. If the review period is shortened, the notice shall disclose that fact.
  • The date, time, and place of any scheduled public meetings or hearings to be held by the lead agency on the proposed project when known to the lead agency at the time of notice.
  • A list of the significant environmental effects anticipated as a result of the project, to the extent which such effects are known to the lead agency at the time of the notice.
  • The address where copies of the EIR and all documents referenced in the EIR will be available for public review. This location shall be readily accessible to the public during the lead agency’s normal working hours.
  • The presence of the site on any of the lists of sites enumerated under Government Code Section 65962.5 including, but not limited to, lists of hazardous waste facilities, land designated as hazardous waste property, hazardous waste disposal sites and others, and the information in the hazardous waste and substances statement required under subsection (f) of that Section.

In addition, the notice required under this section shall be posted in the Office of the County Clerk of each county in which the project will be located for a period of at least 30 days. The County Clerk shall post such notices within 24 hours of receipt.

In order to provide sufficient time for public review, the review period for a draft EIR shall be as provided in Section 15105. The review period shall be combined with the consultation required under Section 15086. When a draft EIR has been submitted to the State Clearinghouse, the public review period shall be at least as long as the review period established by the State Clearinghouse.

Public agencies shall use the State Clearinghouse to distribute draft EIRs to State agencies for review and should use area wide clearinghouses to distribute the documents to regional and local agencies. Public hearings may be conducted on the environmental documents, either in separate proceedings or in conjunction with other proceedings of the public agency. Public hearings are encouraged, but not required as an element of the CEQA process.


Evaluation of and Response to Comments

The lead agency shall evaluate comments on environmental issues received from persons who reviewed the draft EIR and shall prepare a written response. The lead agency shall respond to comments received during the noticed comment period and any extensions and may respond to late comments. The written response shall describe the disposition of significant environmental issues raised. In particular, major environmental issues raised when the lead agency’s position is at variance with recommendations and objections raised in the comments must be addressed in detail giving reasons why specific comments and suggestions were not accepted. There must be good faith reasoned analysis in response. Statements not supported by factual information will not suffice.

The response to comments may take the form of a revision to the draft EIR or may be a separate section in the final EIR. Where the response to comments makes important changes in the information contained in the text of the draft EIR, the lead agency should either:

  • Revise the text in the body of the EIR, or
  • Include marginal notes showing that the information is revised in the response to comments.

Re-Circulation of an EIR Prior to Certification

A lead agency is required to re-circulate an EIR when significant new information is added to the EIR after public notice is given of the availability of the draft EIR for public review under 14 CCR Section 15087, but before certification.

New information added to an EIR is not “significant” unless the EIR is changed in a way that deprives the public of a meaningful opportunity to comment upon a substantial adverse environmental effect of the project, or a feasible way to mitigate or avoid such an effect (including a feasible project alternative) that the project’s proponents have declined to implement.

“Significant new information” requiring recirculation include, for example, a disclosure showing that:

  • A new significant environmental impact would result from the project or from a new mitigation measure that is proposed to be implemented.
  • A substantial increase in the severity of an environmental impact would result unless mitigation measures are adopted that reduce the impact to a level of insignificance.
  • A feasible project alternative or mitigation measure considerably different from others previously analyzed would clearly lessen the environmental impacts of the project, but the project’s proponents decline to adopt it.
  • The draft EIR was so fundamentally and basically inadequate and conclusory in nature that meaningful public review and comment were precluded.


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