What is the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)?

The California Environmental Quality Act (commonly referred to as CEQA) was adopted in 1970 and is one of the foundational environmental laws in the State of California. CEQA applies to discretionary projects, such as zoning changes, variances, conditional use permits, and subdivision maps, proposed to be approved or carried out by the City that may result in a change in the environment. The environment means the physical conditions which exist in the area including land, air, water, minerals, flora and fauna, ambient noise and objects of historic or aesthetic significance. At its core, CEQA is an informational law.  CEQA requires lead agencies, such as the City of Menlo Park, to carry out the law by analyzing potential environmental impacts of a proposed project and informing decision makers and the public of any potential environmental impacts of the proposed project and, where feasible, mitigating potential environmental impacts. Implementation of any feasible mitigations identified by the CEQA analysis would be the responsibility of the project sponsor (typically referred to as the applicant) and the lead agency would be responsible for monitoring and ensuring implementation.

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1. What is the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)?
2. What is the purpose of CEQA?
3. What are the different levels of CEQA review?
4. How is the level of review determined?
5. Why is an EIR being prepared for projects in the Bayfront Area when the ConnectMenlo General Plan EIR considered the potential environmental impacts from the land use changes?
6. How can the community get involved in the CEQA process?
7. What do the decision-makers do with the environmental document?
8. What are the steps in the EIR process?