Workshop seeks input on streamlining CEQA

A piece of legislation that seeks to streamline the environmental review of urban buildings will get some input during a special workshop in Fresno on Feb. 22.

SB 226, authored by State Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), was signed into law in December establishing certain exemptions to the California Environmental Quality Act if an infill project meets certain statewide standards.

Developing those standards has been the duty of the Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR), which will take comments from the public during the workshop beginning at 1 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at Fresno City Hall.

A staff's presentation of the bill along with all associated documents will be posted in advance of the workshop on OPR's website at www.opr.ca.gov/s_sb226.php.

Additional workshops are taking place at the Cal/EPA headquarters building in Sacramento on Feb. 21 and at the Ronald Reagan State Building in Los Angeles on Feb. 23.

Among the changes with the bill, SB 226 revises CEQA by limiting certain requirements of the review process when an infill project falls into a class of projects that has been determined not to have a significant effect on the environment.

As well, the bill exempts the installation of solar photovoltaic panels on rooftops or parking lots if certain conditions are met. Also, owners converting solar thermal power plants would not need to file an entirely new CEQA application when converting to photovoltaic technology.

The bill would also prohibit greenhouse gas emissions from automatically voiding a CEQA exemption if a project complies with statewide, regional or local plans.